Blog - by Magnus Arebalus

     

    Why Joomla! | An exhaustive analysis

    If you are serious about your intentions to web incursion, either for a personal or commercial project, I would advise you to take advantage of Joomla features which overcome any other options available in the current market.

    There are tons of techie articles about why some software is better than another, but for the common user, they have a little or none sense. Thus, in this exhaustive analysis, I'll include the bare bone basics, in order to people that still have not got fully involved on website tasks and decisions, get an idea of what is this all about. Aiming to provide the readers with the objective and well-sustained information, to help them to take the best decision for themselves and their websites.

    For advanced users, this analysis certainly will get interesting until the benefits of Joomla are discussed. So, if this is your case, you can jump to that section.

    Might you ever wonder: What is required to get an online presence? What are my options to get my own website? Are free options actually free? What are the options? Why should I choose Joomla? Well, this is what I will expose in this exhaustive analysis, so be my guest and continue reading.

    What is required to get a website?

    Let's start by stating what is required and mandatory to get an online presence. Notice that online presence and website are not the same, as I'll expose later. But, I'll start with the bare basics.

    In order to get an online presence, you will require

    • Your content itself
    • A web server that hosts your content
    • An internet URL which addresses your hosted content

    That's all! Right, they are so few requirements that sometimes is hard to believe. Maybe that's why many people think that having a Facebook page is the same than have a web page.

    With a Facebook profile, a group or a page (or any other social network or similar service), they host the content and they provide a URL to address your content. Finally, you place the content in such space. So, right! You have an online presence, but not a website.

    Please notice that the previous paragraph was intentionally remarked in red. This is because the line that divides a web presence from a website is very thin. Social networks and other service providers take advantage of this. With the illusion of providing you with free hosting and free URL, they have you promoting their own websites.

    So, how is web presence different from a website? Well, the only difference is ownership. Facebook pages belong to Facebook and the service will remain while they think it is convenient for themselves.

    A website belongs to you and gives you web presence too. In addition, it will remain active for as long as you think is convenient for yourself.

    It must be clearly stated for this analysis, that having your own website implies you're in charge of URL and hosting server, in addition to the content.

    What are my options to get my own website?

    URL/Domain

    URL or Domain
    Regarding the main URL for your own website, it will be defined by a domain name (domain.com). Beware of sub-domains (subdomain.domain.com), they depend on the existence and availability of the main domain. So, in order to get your own website, you must own a domain name.

    Nowadays there are generic domain names (.com, .net, .org, etc) at affordable prices. There are available too, country specific domain names (ex. .com.mx or .mx for Mexico). Finally, there are available too, free domains (.tk, .ml, .ga, .cf or .gq).

    Regardless the option you go for at the start, stick with that option for as long as you keep your website active.

    Web Server/Hosting

    Web Hosting Web Hosting
    About the web hosting server, there are so many and good providers that it would be hard to recommend just a few of them.

    There are free options too, that could be a good start as long as they offer to host your own domain name and not just to host your website as a sub-domain. For free web hosting servers, you may want to take a look at FreeHost, TitanicHost or FreeHostia.

    But before you start to search for a hosting provider, it's advised to determine the platform to handle your content, since different platforms may require different web hosting features

    Content

    Web Site Web Presence
    This is the core part of this analysis and certainly, it will take more than a few lines to explain the many options that you have to publish your own website content.

    I should start by mentioning that there are Static and Dynamic content websites and why Dynamic is better. Regarding dynamic websites, there is already developed Proprietary and Open-source software that will assist with your website implementation. About open-source solutions, there are three great options to build a website over. And finally, I will explain why Joomla is the best one of such three options.

    Static vs Dynamic Websites

    All along the web, there are plenty websites of a large number of subjects. However, we can start by dissecting them on two kinds: static and dynamic.

    Static websites use technologies that make it hard to perform changes and require high-tech capabilities to modify them. Such is the case of pure HTML or Flash websites. Especially Flash websites are eye-catching but are very expensive to implement and to make modifications. In addition, Google discourages its use.

    On the other hand, dynamic websites are built with server-side programs in order to make them easier to operate and modify by the final user.

    Dynamic Websites

    If you are interested in knowing more about static or dynamic websites, you can always search the web.

    Regardless if they are static or dynamic websites, you'll finally get an HTML document as output. So, as a final user, you should prefer a website implementation that involves dynamic website technologies. Such as any Website Builder (Wix, SiteBuilder, SquareSpace, etc.) or CMS (WordPress, Joomla, Drupal, etc.)

    Usually, dynamic websites make end user more independent for day-to-day website operation.

    Proprietary vs Open Source

    Once explained why the dynamic websites are the best option for final users, we must choose between two licensing options Proprietary or Open Source. So, let's see what this licensing issue is about.

    Proprietary Software

    Like much proprietary software, the website builders licensed under this schema, allows the end user to try the software for free and that is the catch.

    Once you have learned how to operate the system, you have built a nice-looking website and you want to go further, it may be when you notice that you must pay a recursive fee in order to keep the full-system benefits.

    You might think that in such case, you may move your website elsewhere. However, let's take a look at Wix support on this:

    "Your Wix site and all of its content is hosted exclusively on Wix's servers, and cannot be transferred elsewhere."

    So, no matter if you were using the free service or a paid plan, your website "belongs" to you, only if you host it on Wix servers.

    There are no restrictions on how a proprietary software tries to tie you to keep using it.

    Open Source Software

    According to the Open Source Initiative, there are several approved licenses to call a software as Open Source. All of them allow software to be freely used, modified, and shared.

    One of the listed Open Source Licenses is the GNU General Public License (GPL). I mention this specific license because this is the license under which the three major open-source CMSs are released (WordPress, Drupal, and Joomla). In addition, they all can be downloaded free of charge.

    It's important to remark that open-source software is mostly available free of charge, though this does not necessarily have to be the case, especially with software that adds functionality to core CMS. However, once you get the code you can operate it for as long as you want, in whatever server and in as many sites as you want, without the need to paying extra fees for the software use.

    open source logoHeckert GNU

    It is usual, in an open-source business environment, that software providers charge for services. For example, the service for download the software (there are costs involved with bandwidth), for download updates (there are developing costs) and/or for support (there are people taking their time to answer requests). But if you already have a copy of the software, then you are free to use it.

    So, where's the catch?

    Certainly, to get professional quality products there must be money somehow involved and open source products are not the exception. But open source products attract so many users that generate niches for associated products and services without the need of charge for the product itself.

    Are free options actually free?

    I must start with this quote

    The word “free” has two legitimate general meanings; it can refer either to freedom or to price. When we speak of “free software”, we're talking about freedom, not price. (Think of “free speech”, not “free beer”.)

    Regarding as in "free beer"

    There are many ways to undercover the real costs. So, be very careful regarding services or products which claim to be free.

    Any product or service that requires you to use its domain or brand, it's not free. Indeed, you end working for such product or service in exchange for a few pennies.

    Are you aware that Facebook pages are contained within its own domain? Have you noticed that such pages are plagued with advertisements? How much do you receive for advertisement revenue?

    Said that, there are still very few things that really are free. As the free domain names or the free hosting services I mentioned above. But, don't get mislead by illusions.

    Regarding as in "free speech"

    Absolutely yes! There is a large number of professional, top-quality, open-source products that are free to use, free to get modified and free to share too.

    The ones which are free of charge usually are because of they aim to its popularity leads to charge for other products or services around them. So, unless you need some of the surrounding products, they are too absolutely free of charge.

    What are the options?

    Knowing The Contenders

    Any search for "best open source cms" will lead you to three names: WordPress, Drupal and Joomla. Certainly, there are others. But the ones I already mentioned have been "Top 3" for a long time now and still are. So, let's start to know the three best CMSs.

    Feature
    WordPress

    Joomla!

    Drupal
    Dynamic Content
    Open-Source
    Free of Charge
    First Release 2003 2005 2001
    Founder
    Trademark Holder
    Born as CMS

    What's usually said

    • Ideal for fairly simple web sites, such as everyday blogging and news sites; and anyone looking for an easy-to-manage site. Add-ons make it easy to expand the functionality of the site.
    • For complex, advanced and versatile sites; for sites that require complex data organization; for community platform sites with multiple users; for online stores.
    • Joomla allows you to build a site with more content and structure flexibility than WordPress offers, but still with fairly easy, intuitive usage. Supports E-commerce, social networking and more.

    Tempted to choose the most popular?

    Hold your horses! I can understand when somebody tries to implement his or her website with WordPress. By far, the most popular of the three CMSs above. But, once one sees things like the quoted below, it should make sense to keep calm and continue reading.

    Nearly half (46%) of all WordPress sites infected with malware were up to date with the latest core updates.

    What is right is not always popular and what is popular is not always right.

    Why should I choose Joomla?

    The answer is simple:
    Continuity

    Definition

    Continuity
    the fact of something continuing for a long period of time without being changed or stopped: There has been no continuity in that class - they've had six different teachers.

    Why is Continuity so important?

    As you might remember, I recommended to stick with the domain name you choose at first. Well this is because continuity is as important in the web as in the daily life. Usually, continuity is base for progress and well being of individuals and of business too. Let's quote a source more influent than me:

    “Reinvention” and frequent shifts in direction are costly and confuse the customer, the industry, and the organization. Continuity of strategy is essential to creating and sustaining competitive advantage.

    Notice that continuity is not the same than stagnant. Thus, it's OK to expect changes in your website size and content. But those changes must be planned since the beginning of your website construction. So they should be taken into account while selecting the platform to be used to run your website.

    Once you have a while with your website, surely you have invested a considerable amount of resources in it (time, money and effort). Third party websites have links to your interesting content and for sure, the website already has a good "reputation" with search engines.

    Would you be prepared to lose all that resources if, for any cause, you have to change the website platform?

    While you might think that as long as your content is moved from one platform to other, there are no changes in the final website. That is not necessarily true.

    Different platforms address its content in a different way. Have you seen a "404 Not Found" error page any time? That is how the links to your site or the pages that search engines have already indexed may finish.

    Lack of continuity in your website platform may lead to drop all the resources you previously invested in your website into the trash.

    How does using Joomla ensure continuity?

    Joomla Website Continuity

    Let's keep our feet on the ground. If we go for a too complex solution (as Drupal), that will become too expensive to maintain with either, IT internal employees or external services provider. In the end, high costs will lead us to change of platform to something with the same power but easier to handle.

    On the other hand, if we base our decision on easiness to operate (as WordPress), sooner or later the platform will not be enough to run our website and we will be trying to patch such platform, with inherent costs. Depending on how high and frequent such costs are, they may lead to change the platform to something which can be easily handled but more powerful.

    Continuity is exactly what Joomla may provide to your web incursion.

    It is usually said that Joomla is not as easy to learn as WordPress but it is just an error in appreciation. Joomla may look like not so easy because more options are provided out-of-the-box.

    For example, you will not need to search for a third-party contact form, because it is already included in the core. Same as handling of banners, displaying news feeds (RSS), error pages redirects, etc.

    Regarding power, Joomla CMS is built over a powerful in-the-house programming framework.

    Such framework is extended with third-party libraries, which are well known for programmers and are industry standards.

    I know this is a little techie, but if you are looking for a powerful solution to run your website, it had to be said.

    Joomla ensures continuity for your website because its day-to-day operation is easy, even for no tech people. Joomla too is so powerful, that provides the flexibility required by the tech people to enhance its core functionality, as required by advanced and complex websites.

    Other continuity factors in Joomla

    Core Security

    The Joomla people are very serious on this matter. Joomla has a Security Strike Team which oversees the project's security issues and follows some specific procedures when dealing with these issues.

    Every Joomla installation alerts the website administrators about new updates available almost at the same instant they are released.

    Administrators are notified when they log in the backend and by email too.

     

    Third-Party Software Security

    Joomla also has strict rules in order to  third-party extensions get listed in the Joomla Extensions Directory.

    Third-party developers must submit copy of the extensions in order to be passed by some automatic tests, preventing the use of common unsafe coding practices.

    Extensions must use the Joomla Updates System, which notifies the website administrators when an update has been released.

    Community

    Finally, but not less important, Joomla is community-driven. Since its foundation, Joomla was conceived as a "by-the-community, for-the-community" project. Such is the case, that the trademark holder is "Open Source Matters" a non-profit organization which board is renewed with community members.

    You can find friendly volunteers at every Joomla related issues, as development, documentation, translations, support, marketing, etc.

    Conclusion

    The Internet is a jungle, where success is not easy, and less when we fall into mirages that make us believe that we are receiving something for free when in reality they only intend to take advantage of our effort.

    So you can say that you have a website of your own, you must

    • have a server that hosts your content,
    • be able to have full control of the address to access the content and
    • have also the control and ownership of your content.

    Joomla is free open source software, which allows you to enter the Internet with freedom over your content and the platform used to operate it. Joomla also provides a better expectation of continuity for its simplicity to operate and its power to build complex sites.

    A final advice. Do not trust anyone's opinion, not even mine, unless you paid him as an advisor. Test Joomla yourself and convince yourself of the benefits of Joomla for you and your company.