Joomla 1.5 Review - A Look at the Popular Open Source CMS

Joomla! is perhaps one of the best known names in the world of Content Management Systems. Originally a fork of Mambo, Joomla has surpassed it's predecessor in popularity and size by a massive margin. Does Joomla! really deserve all the praise it's been getting? Let's examine it and find out in this Joomla 1.5 review.

First released in January of 2008, version 1.5 has since seen a number of point releases to cover security holes and issues.

With the new release a number of very anticipated changes have been put in place such as one central installation tool and improved theming.

Upon installation we are greeted with the following screen.

Joomla 1.5 Review

I proceed to the screen below:

Joomla 1.5 Review

This is an excellent preinstall check that quickly gives you a breakdown of problem areas and things that need to be resolved. For
most people, if you are on a shared host and not a VPS .. if you have anything RED, you may need to contact your provider before proceeding.

After accepting the license agreement on the next screen, we are greeted with:

Joomla 1.5 Review

Enter your database details (for those first timers who've never had to do this before, Joomla has gone to good lengths to make sure they explain each field well). Once this is done, we proceed:

Joomla 1.5 Review

This is an option I quite like. The ability to add FTP configuration is a sweet function. This allows you to enter your ftp details to your
site and let Joomla correct any permissions issues that it encounters without bugging you. In my books, this is immediately filled in every time I install it. Some people will want more direct control though, and for you, you can safely ignore this screen entirely.

Enter your site name, details and choose whether you want sample data installed.

CAVEAT: If you don't install the sample data, you will literally get a bare bones website with zero content and it'll look horrible right off the bat.. so make sure you know what you are doing.

If you want a populated site with content so you can see how it would look when populated.. click install sample data. Otherwise, click next.
Joomla 1.5 Review
Here you see the default site with Sample Data installed. Joomla has one of the better default themes and it shows quite nicely. Let's check out the administration interface:

Joomla 1.5 Review

Joomla has a nice interface with dropdowns. One of the things I found a bit overwhelming was the number of places content can hide. I literally spent 15 minutes trying to find one article that as buried in a bizarre place not reminiscent of content.

Joomla does a good job of making everything available. There are tons of options and it'll take a few to get used to maneuvering within the admin panel, but once you get used to it.. it functions quite nicely. What I did not like was the breakdown of sections, categories and content. I found I had a hard time understanding which was which and where my article would end up. I also couldn't figure out why I had to have both a category and a section (I hate being forced to do things..)

Once nice new inclusion in 1.5 was the universal installer. Instead of trying to discern what is a mambot, module, component or theme.. you just install the zip from one box in the CMS and it figures it out for you.

Joomla, like Drupal has a very large community, a large number of modules and an amazing amount of beautiful themes available from either premium sources or free.

In this Joomla 1.5 review, we've given it the ratings below:

Community 9/10 (The forums are active, but I found from a few posts I made that it takes a while to get a reply)

Expandability 8/10 (There are modules, but you are still limited with the way views, content and such can be presented as well
as there are quite a few essential modules which required payment)

Themability 10/10
(Probably the best CMS when it comes to themes. There are thousands of beautiful ones available from a myriad of sources.)

Useability 7/10
(Content sections can get overwhelming and using third party addons can get messy as I found quite a few that were not stable or had poor support themselves)

Overall Score: 8/10