What is Joomla?

I recently wrote about the current state of Joomla as a CMS, this time I will be taking an introductory look at Joomla! instead.


As a CMS, Joomla! hardly needs an introduction. Few years ago, it used to dominate the CMS scene single-handedly. With the rise of WordPress and Drupal, Joomla! lost a good deal of its market share, but even today, Joomla! is a reputed CMS with a very loyal user base and a robust architecture to its credit.

At its basic level, Joomla! behaves pretty much like any other PHP-based Content Management System. However, it is different from WordPress in the sense that its primary forte is that of being a mainstream CMS (whereas WordPress began as a blogging tool and later evolved into a full-fledged CMS).

Getting Started With Joomla!

Installing Joomla! is not a big deal. Irrespective of the hosting platform you are on, be it a cloud server or a shared VPS, you will find Joomla! in the auto-installer’s list for sure, simply because it has been and still is a leading CMS.

If, for some reason, the auto-script installer does not work for you, you can always download the latest version of Joomla! (currently 3.3) from the official website and follow the super-simple instructions therein.

Having set up the CMS on your server, you are ready to get started with its usage.

Using Joomla!

The content structure of Joomla! is fairly straightforward, and if you have had any level of experience with any similar CMS in the past, you will easily come to terms with Joomla! as well.

Basically, much like every other PHP-based CMS, Joomla! relies on databases to store and update your content. “Articles” is the generic term that is used for your content, with additional bits of special content being called “Modules“. The “Template” refers to the design, layout and presentation of your website in total.

Currently, Joomla! has two versions that are in common usage: version 2.5 is the older one and will be reaching the end of its life by the time year 2014 comes to a conclusion. The newer version, 3.3, is the one you should turn to if you are getting started with Joomla!

Working With Joomla!

The Joomla! back-end does seem intimidating to new users — especially if you are a WordPress user and are trying to find your way around things. The Category, Article, Media, Menu, Module, and User Manager are all self-explanatory.

joomla admin

Here is a very quick run-down of the different sections of Joomla! back end:

  1. The Users menu lets you create user accounts, assign users to groups, set permissions and access roles, and even set up mass mail functionality.
  2. The Menu section does just that — lets you create menus for your website.
  3. Content section will be the most used region of your website. Articles, categories, media manager, everything relevant to the updation of your website comes right here.
  4. Components includes newsfeeds, tags, system messages, banners and other secondary elements that are used to juice up your website.
  5. Extensions menu lets you extend Joomla!’s functionality. Language packs, templates, plugins/extensions and other bits belong in this section.
  6. Lastly, the Help menu is there just in case you get stuck.

As you can see, when you do get started with Joomla!, you will not have a tough time understanding it. While the sheer functionality and features of the CMS can be confusing for a newbie, it is surely a very powerful tool once you get used to it.

Let us take up the case of the Add New Article editor. WYSIWYG is always at your service, with a clean UI.

add article in Joomla

Similarly, say you wish to install a Joomla! theme. You just need to head to the Extension Manager. Thereafter, you have three options: install from URL, install from directory or upload a package file. Choose whichever one is relevant for you, and go ahead, much as you would in WordPress.

Next, you can verify your installation. Navigate to Extension ManagerManage, and select the Template type. Your installed template will be there in the list.

What Else?

If you ever get stuck, the Joomla! community is the way to go. Apart from documentation and forums, there are also Joomla! Events (much like WordCamps). Plus, there is a community-run magazine as well.

Using Joomla! might not be everyone’s cup of tea, especially because of the WordPress-centric world that we live in nowadays. However, learning a new CMS or two does not hurt anyone, and even though Joomla! has a comparatively lesser market share vis a vis WordPress or Drupal, it is still one of the leading names in the world of Content Management.

What do you think of Joomla! as a CMS? Like it, love it or hate it? Share your views and thoughts with the world using the comments below!

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About the Author Sufyan bin Uzayr

Sufyan writes about web design and development, Content Management Systems, open source, and everything else in between. He blogs at Code Carbon, and you can find him on Facebook and Google+.