General CMS Issues

In this section you can read Alledia blog posts about general Content Management System issues.

A Short but Honorable List

Someone asked me a question last night so I racked my brain and came up with the answer of “5”. I’m a little sad this list is so short.

So, kudos to these open source events:

  • DrupalCon Munich
  • DrupalCon Denver
  • DrupalCon Copenhagen
  • JoomlaDay New England
  • JoomlaDay Netherlands

Anyone know what these events did to make the list? Even better, any ideas for making it longer?

*Update* The answer is “events that are brave enough to invite speakers from other open source projects”.

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No Upgrades? You’ll Scare Your Users Away

Today is Halloween so it’s a good time to addresses a scary topic.

After a baby-hiatus this summer, I’ve been back on the road again teaching a lot of Joomla and Drupal. I’m talking to a lot of end-users and finding that there’s something really scary In our open source platforms.

No Upgrades? Your Customers See an Exit Door

I tweeted a while ago that a lot of people are migrating to Joomla and Drupal from the Vignette / OpenText system. Why? Because OpenText are dropping support for an old version and moving to the new version requires a major migration. People are using that opportunity to shop around. If they’re going to have to rewrite their whole website, why not see if there’s a better alternative out there? Every time there’s a difficult upgrade, your customers seen an exit door.

The worst part of every class with Vignette users is explaining that neither Joomla or Drupal are better with upgrades. It’s not comforting to explain to new users that they got out of the frying pan and into the fire.

Times Have Changed

Here’s the thing: people’s expectations have changed. This isn’t 2005 when phones never updated and new Windows versions often required buying new computers.

In 2011, your phones, computers and tablets update automatically. In 2011, WordPress runs 15% of the web and its updates are like butter. In 2011, we all run on the cloud and we never even notice the updates. That’s today’s standard. Any system which doesn’t provide an easy update path isn’t living in the 2010’s.


I hope that Joomla devs provide a smooth upgrade from 2.5 to 3.0 and that Drupal devs provide a smooth path from 7 to 8.

I fear a scary experience for the users of either platform if they don’t.

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The 4 Pillars of Open Source Communities

In 2006 I quit my job to work full-time in open source. It was fortunate timing, because the years since then have seen extraordinary growth. What was once a hobby or a sideline has now taken over the web. It’s almost certain that more than 20% of the web will run on either WordPress, Joomla or Drupal by the the end of 2011.

What is even more amazing to me is how fragile it often seems on some days. Having worked in and paid close attention to the people and structures running our three huge projects, I’m constantly amazed by how we survived and made it so big.

I’d been pondering how we made it so far and those thoughts accelerated after reading this post by Matt Asay back in May: “Wake up, Linux hippies“. I knew he was partly right, but missing the much larger picture. I knew I agreed with Glynn Moody, whose post Matt was replying too, but I couldn’t properly explain why.

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The Pros and Cons of Distributions

It’s been far too long since I blogged.

I’ve got a few good excuses such as a baby, a business, a book, the OSM board and almost weekly trips around the U.S. However, I’ve also got a few good topics stored up, so expect more posts in the coming weeks.

First up, some thoughts on Molajo which is the shaping up to be the first widely-marketed Joomla distribution. Joomla’s had few distros before such as Non-Profit Soapbox and the pre-packaged installs put out by template clubs and extensions like Virtuemart. However, those were never really presented as distributions and that’s what the Molajo folk are aiming for.  They’re expressly aiming to replicate Drupal’s success with distros. I’ve spend about 50% of my time this year in the Drupal world, so I’ve a few thoughts on their pros and cons:

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Automatic Notifications of Errors on Your Joomla Site


pingdom_logo_blackWonderfully smart readers … I need to pick your brains.

We’ve been using Pingdom for years to track our sites. I love it. When sites go down it sends out an automatic email, SMS and even a message via an iPhone app.

When our servers go down, we know.

However, that’s not the same thing as saying when our sites go down, we know.

This weekend a site was hit by a session error and that bought the site down. All a visitor could see was a MySQL error and the message “please repair the database”. Because the server was still responding, Pingdom thought the site was up and so didn’t tell us about the problem.

Any ideas on how we can get around this? How can we get notified even when our server is active but our site is throwing out errors?

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Even WordPress Usability Sucks

wordpress usability

Out of all the blog posts I’ve read this year, one has stuck in my mind more than any other: Why [the] open source crowd should stop crowing about Ning’s problems. He takes on Drupal and KickApps for their lack of usability and then moves on to WordPress.

He’s right. Even WordPress usability sucks. It’s generally regarded as the best of the Open Source projects in terms of usability, but even it sucks.

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Joomla is a Hotbed of Innovation. Be Proud.


Since we expanded into Drupal and WordPress training quite a few people have asked variations on these questions:

  • “Are you abandoning Joomla?”
  • “Do you think Drupal and WordPress are now better than Joomla?”

The simple answers are no and no. Last summer we discussed how smart companies were now supporting several CMS platforms and gave some reasons why. I like to think we’re just following our own advice.

I’ve another reason to add … Joomla companies are remarkably dynamic and entrepreneurial. Looking back over the last few years, Joomla has been a remarkable hotbed of innovation, particularly when it comes two areas, business models and design:

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Joomla and Drupal – Which One is Right for You? Version 2

Drupal or Joomla?

Drupal or Joomla?Back in December 2006, we wrote the first comprehensive comparison of Drupal and Joomla. Over the next three years both projects have changed substantially, but the popularity of the original post hasn’t. Its been viewed nearly half-a-million times and still accounts for between 10 and 20% of our page visits every month. People really want an honest acknowledgement of the differences between the two.

We originally compared Joomla 1.0 and Drupal 4. We’re now at Joomla 1.5 and Drupal 6. It’s long since past time to update the comparison. It’s also a good time because, after nearly three years buried in Joomla, I’ve spent the last three months returning to and re-examining Drupal and in preparation for teaching it.

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Local Joomla Installations Are Not Worth The Effort

MAMP, XAMMP and Joomla

MAMP, XAMMP and JoomlaAm I alone in thinking that we’re doing Joomla beginners a big disservice by recommending that they start with a local installation?

Almost every Joomla tutorial starts with a description of how to install Joomla on your computer and it nearly always causes complete befuddlement amongst learners.

Last year I had the interesting experience of agreeing to be the technical editor for a Joomla beginner book. After a brief introduction, the next 50 pages were taken up by a detailed explanation of how to install XAMPP, troubleshoot Apache and configure ports. After thoroughly intimidating the poor beginner using a PC, users on Linux were given two paragraphs, and Mac users got the same treatment.

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Is Drupal Destined to be a Boutique CMS?

That’s the clear conclusion of the data from Google Trends.

Drupal has been substantially behind Joomla in popularity ever since the two projects were founded. WordPress has constantly grown its following and may even overtake Joomla this year, whereasDrupal has grown very slowly and steadily without ever looking likely to catch either.

Drupal is great software and powers many amazing sites, but is it destined to always be the higher-end, boutique (and yes, less-popular) cousin of WordPress and Joomla?

Comparing searches for Joomla compared the other two between 2006 and 2009:

  • WordPress has gone 0.66 >> 0.72 >> 0.81 >> 0.97
  • Drupal has gone 0.22 >> 0.25 >> 0.28 >> 0.30

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Are Smart Companies Now Supporting Several CMS Platforms?

I’m always on the lookout for business trends in our industry and I’ve spotted a significant new one in recent months. Increasingly CMS companies are supporting different platforms. The choice for each company is different, but the trend seems real:

Examples of Joomla Companies Supporting Other Platforms

  • Rockettheme: Joomla and phpBB3
  • Joomlart: Joomla and Magento
  • JoomlaJunkie: Working on and building for Joomla, Drupal and Magento
  • JoomlaPraise: Working on
  • CMSExpo: Started with Joomla and expanded to all kinds of Open Source CMS

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Joomla and Social Networking

Congratulations to Drupal which won both of Packt Publishing Open Source CMS awards this year. Drupal also won last year and Joomla won in 2006. What interested me wasn’t really the decison but the explanation:

"Comments were also reserved for Drupal’s strong social applications capabilities and how it integrates seamlessly with content management."

Much as I love Joomla, I agree. Its true to say that Drupal currently offers more social networking power than Joomla. It has high-quality groups, profile, tagging and ACL features. Its also being used for higher-profile social networking projects, as Acquia show here:

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