I recently decided to set up a web site for my family. We are distributed all around the world and while there are plenty of photo-sharing places out there, I wanted more than that. I wanted to create a site that is sort of like a blog, but where everyone in the family could share the media, all in my immediate family could contribute, and the extended family and our friends could get at the site for information. In many ways, I want to create a home newspaper. This is more about a content management system than it is about a blog. More than that, due to the personal information that my family will expose through this site, I needed something that supported SSL and that could be secured.
While I can and have developed web applications, it’s not my favorite kind of development. Actually, anything that involves significant artistry is something I have a hard time doing. I am a software engineer first and foremost. So I was looking for something that would cut corners. I wanted to be able to do what I do with my blog, but on a bigger scale.
All of my web-hosting is handled by GoDaddy and I was looking through the free applications that they make available to all of their web hosting clients. Joomla! happened to be listed and I decided to do some research. What I found sounded very interesting so I had GoDaddy install Joomla on my hosting account and I experimented with it and I was very impressed with what I found.
The first thing that struck me about Joomla is that once the initial setup is done, your focus is on content. It’s not about figuring out what goes where and how to manage your site. Joomla stores its content in a MySQL database and simply applies templates to the data retrieved from the database. A lot of the work around an on-line store is taken care of for you by Joomla. Again, you can focus on the real work – the content.
Joomla is a little confusing to get the hang of initially, but I found that working through a book on the subject made it very simple and the power that it provides is very impressive. I spent several hours working with Joomla in the evenings during the course of the last week and by the end of the week I had substantially set up 4 new web-sites. All are now ready to be used for their intended purposes and they even have the preliminary content I need them to contain.
Joomla’s real advantage, though, lies in its extensibility. It has a number of mechanisms for extending the basic tool and although this requires some html, css and php knowledge, the mechanism is there.
I’m just starting with this tool so this is a very early comment on it, but I am very impressed with what I have seen so far. I’ll keep you posted.