# Early thoughts on Joomla (nee Mambo)

I grabbed a copy of Joomla the other day, to play around with another option for a CMS to use for projects at the Learning Commons. Some early thoughts:

• The admin UI seems very well done - but man, is there a lot of stuff in there. Not sure I'd want to unleash that interface on a novice user, or even a casual Office warrior. I'm sure it makes more sense as you get used to it, but it's even more jarring than Drupal, and much more complicated than WordPress (likely necessarily so, since it does so much more than WordPress, but seems like it should be on par with Drupal).
• Seems like a very odd definition of "Open Source" in the Joomla community. Likely some historical context to make it meaningful, but of the several Joomla community sites that I've visited for modules and templates, they all seem to require logins to download stuff, and several require paid subscriptions - some quite steep - just to get access to something that I thought was GPL. Bizarre...
• The content publishing process seems much more complicated than Drupal or WordPress. How do you determine which chunks of content make it to the front page, in what location? The admin interface provides a lot of bells and doodads to control that, but it's not immediately obvious how to control the flow of content.
• It's got a really nice level of granularity for permissions. Admins, publishers, editors, managers, writers, etc... All with their own sets of restrictions. People with access to the admin UI can publish content immediately, while "lesser" users need to have stuff approved before it shows up.
• The URL structure is pretty much semantically meaningless. URLs take the form of /content/view/14/2/ - and that's with the "search engine friendly" option turned on - it's even worse without that. There's a spot for a "Title Alias" - but it doesn't seem to get used as the Post Slug does in WordPress, or the Path does in Drupal. Maybe there's another bit to twiddle for that to kick in...
• The pervasive rich text editor / WYSIWYG dealie is pretty nice.
• Joomla feels like a robust, mature CMS. Things like content checkin/checkout, staledating, moderation, etc. appear to be done quite nicely.
• What's up with Joomla's RSS Feeds feature? It's borked. Right now, it just gives a list of feeds, and you have to click on each one to get a list of items. It should give a merged list of items, ala Drupal or FeedOnFeeds or SuprGlu or etc...
• Installing templates and modules - hasn't worked for me so far. Not sure what the exact process is. Doesn't seem to work if you just drop files into the templates or modules directories. The provided Upload/Install feature fails for me, too. I'm sure it works, but I haven't tripped over the piece of documentation describing the installation process.

I'll have more thoughts over the next few days - I'm setting up an instance for a demo on Friday. Right now, Drupal feels more "fluid" but Joomla feels more "newspaper-ish". If that makes sense.

Here's a handful of screenshots of various stages of the content publishing process: