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What is Joomla?

September 6, 2022 / Published in:  from Ivan Messina
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Are you trying to understand what is Joomla? and whether it is the right solution for creating your website?

In this article, What is Joomla?, we will see how the platform was created, it’s requirements and which sites use it.

We will discuss the learning curve and the availability of documentation. In addition, we will see what functions are built in and how they can be extended with additional components.

Let’s start by taking a look at what Joomla is and how it has evolved up to date.

What Is Joomla

What is Joomla and how it was created

Joomla is an open source and free CMS (Content Management System). With this platform we can create dynamic websites and manage them through an administration panel that’s rich in features.

Joomla is written in PHP and relies on a database, usually MySQL, although other databases can also be used. The platform is an open source and is released under the GNU/GPL v2 license.

The CMS was created in 2005 as a fork of Mambo, another CMS. The split of the two projects led to the release of a first version of Joomla on September 16, 2005.

Joomla Brand

Why “Joomla?”

This name was chosen from hundreds of suggestions from the community. “Joomla” is a phonetic transcription of “Jumla,” a Swahili term meaning “all together“.

Indeed, the name recalls the development team’s desire to collaborate and create a large, united community.

Next to the CMS, which we will focus on in this article, there is Joomla! Framework. It is a PHP framework designed to create web and command-line applications. The CMS and the framework work independently.

How Joomla works

Now that we have introduced what Joomla is, we can understand how it works.

Joomla is a CMS that allows us to create a website thanks to the features already included in the core.

Along with the basic functions, it is also possible to extend the possibilities of the CMS with extensions and templates, including custom ones. Later on, we’ll return back to the functions and learn how you can extend them.

How many sites use Joomla?

According to data from w3techs, it is currently used by 2.5% of websites using a CMS and 1.7% of total websites.

To have a comparison, the most widely used CMS currently is WordPress which is used by 64.3% of CMS-based sites and 43% of all websites.

Here is a chart showing the usage rates of the major CMSs with data updated in 2022.

To see some of the sites created with Joomla, you can check out the showcase which collects some of the sites created with this CMS.

Joomla Website Showcase

In terms of types of sites, Joomla can be used for small business sites, online magazines, ecommerce, personal or government agency sites, as well as web portals of schools, communities, and nonprofit organizations.

In 2021 Joomla received several awards from the CMS Critic Peoples Choice Awards as the best open source CMS and best free CMS.

Requirements of Joomla

The current version of Joomla is Release 4, let’s see what technical requirements must be met.

PHP version:

  • 7.2.5 (minimum).
  • 8.0 (recommended).

Database:

  • MySQL 5.6 or higher.
  • PostgreSQL 11.0 or higher.

Web server:

  • Apache 2.4 or higher.
  • Nginx 1.18 or higher.
  • Microsoft IIS 10 or higher.

How to try Joomla for free

If you are thinking of using Joomla as your CMS to create your website, you may be wondering how you can try it out for free.

Let’s start by reiterating that Joomla is a free and open source CMS.

To try out its functions, you can download the latest version of the CMS from the download section of the site and install Joomla manually.

Or you can try our free hosting. You can choose to pre-install Joomla, so you don’t have to worry about installation.

You have 14 days to do as many trials as you want and then decide whether to switch to a plan: hosting Joomla or just let the free trial plan expire, with no obligation.

Features of Joomla

We have seen what Joomla is and what it needs to function. Now let’s see what its features are.

Let’s start with the learning curve of the CMS and go on to see what its functions are, how content is managed, and how it can be customized by adding extensions and templates for Joomla.

Ease of use and documentation

Joomla is designed to allow anyone to create a dynamic website without having any knowledge of code.

In fact, the goal of the platform development team is to allow anyone to publish their own content. Therefore, it is possible to use the CMS without running into a high learning curve.

To learn how to use the platform you can refer to the detailed documentation available on the Joomla.org site.

In addition, you can count on a large community of more than 700,000 users on different forums. Thanks to these forums you can get answers and clarifications on your doubts.

Integrated functions and content management

In Joomla, content is organized into articles. Posts can be scheduled and also we can choose to set certain articles to be featured and also choose the duration they should remain featured on the site.

Each item can be part of a category, and categories follow a hierarchical level: we can create categories and subcategories.

Keep in mind that in versions prior to Joomla 2.5, the hierarchy of site content included an additional level: sections.

The sections in turn contained the categories, and the last level of this hierarchy was always the articles.

If you are familiar with WordPress, note that in Joomla there is no distinction between “articles” and “pages,” but all content is “articles” and is therefore managed from a single section of the administration panel.

To learn more about the differences between the two CMSs, you can also check out our comparison on WordPress vs Joomla.

Joomla Articles
In this screenshot we can see that the homepage of the site can also be changed like any article.

From the administration panel we can create menus: in addition to the main menu we can also create a blog menu or a menu in the footer.

In addition to menus, with Joomla we can add modules to our site. Modules correspond to widgets in the WordPress ecosystem and allow us to show the most read or most recent articles, categories and so on.

Joomla Modules
Site modules in Joomla.

Remember that with modules we can not only manage the appearance of the site and thus the front-end, but also customize the backend. In fact, the modules are divided into two categories: site modules and administrative modules.

Joomla Admin Modules
The modules we can add to the control panel.

From the administration panel we can manage the users registered to the site and establish the level of access, that is, the permissions assigned to each one. We can, in fact, choose from predefined access levels, but also create custom levels with permissions of our choice.

Joomla User Permissions Settings Tab
From the back-end we can create a new user and manage permissions.

With Joomla 4 it is possible to create a multilingual site. From the back-end we can install language packages by choosing from the 51 packages available.

Joomla Language Settings

After that, using a system plugin, we can filter content by language and thus create a site in different languages.

The CMS, moreover, is designed to allow us to create responsive websites.

SEO

Joomla allows us to optimize our site for SEO. We can customize the title tag and meta description of pages and use SEO friendly URLs.

Also thanks to extensions we can create a sitemap of the site.

Thanks to a system plugin we can also manage redirects. We can set up the redirects 301 individually or import more than one in one operation.

Joomla Seo Redirects Settings

Template

There are two types of templates for Joomla, site templates that allow us to change the appearance of the front-end, and back-end templates.

With Joomla 4.0 the default template for the front-end is Cassiopeia.

Joomla Default Template Cassiopeia

We can install new templates or modify the default one. You can also create your own custom template.

Joomla allows us to take advantage of the template override feature, through which we can make changes to the existing template. Also in this way when we go to update the CMS, our changes will be retained.

Template override in Joomla can be compared to the child theme of WordPress that allows us to modify the theme and keep the changes even when we update the current theme.

We can also create pages with alternate layouts from the basic layout used throughout the site.

Extensions

With Joomla 4 you can install extensions directly from the administration panel by choosing from the list in the official directory.

This gives direct access to all extensions compatible with the version of Joomla we have installed.

Joomla Extensions

In addition, from the back-end we can also install extensions from zipper file, folder or URL.

The extensions are divided into categories and allow us to add different functions. For example, we can add social icons and integrate payment processing with major gateways.

In the official directory there are 5,937 extensions.

Remember that in the Joomla ecosystem, extensions include: components, modules, plugins, templates and language packs.

Modules are small elements that allow us to display content. For example, we can use a form to show the most recently published articles on the site.

Components are a more complex version of modules and allow us to create banners, news feeds and so on.

Plugins allow us to extend functions, there are plugins to show a captcha code, to cache pages or to change languages.

Security

Often CMS vulnerabilities do not depend on the underlying system, but on third-party extensions.

As we have seen when talking about plugins and nulled themes of WordPress, when it comes to Joomla it is important to pay attention to the extensions we use on our site.

Joomla collects a list of vulnerable extensions, making patches available or when patches are not available it is recommended to uninstall these potentially dangerous extensions for the site.

Regarding access, in addition to using a secure password, you can also enable two-factor authentication.

From the CMS settings, there is also an option to force HTTPS and thus use the secure protocol.

Joomla Force Https

Conclusion

In this article, What is Joomla?, we have seen what Joomla is and what functions this CMS provides us with to easily create a dynamic website.

You should now have a clear overview of the platform’s features, how content is managed, and the customization options available.

Have you ever heard of Joomla before or is this the first time you’re hearing about it? Let us know in the comments below.

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