Content Management System (CMS) contains the terms content and management, which imprecisely refer only to a system that manages content. Such a system could be a board and a piece of chalk (menu or school chalkboard), or some free online encyclopedia such as Wikipedia or an online auction house such as eBay. In all these examples contents are administered, in the last instance by numerous participants.
These participants play a major role in content management systems, on one hand as administrators and on the other as users and editors.
Apart from CMSs, there are terms such as Enterprise Resource Planning Systems (ERP systems—administration of corporate data), Customer Relationship Management Systems (CRM systems—maintenance of customer contacts), Document Management Systems (DMS systems—administration of documents), Human Resource Management Systems (HRM systems—administration of personnel), and many others.
A content management system, or CMS, is a computer software system used to enable and organize the joint process of creating and editing text and multimedia documents (content).
The abbreviation ECMS has established itself as the term for Enterprise Content Management Systems. The other abbreviations listed above are subsets of ECMS.
Joomla! belongs to the category of Web Content Management Systems (WCMS), since its functionality is administered from a browser on the Web.
In general, the term content management is used in connection with web pages that can be maintained by a browser. This doesn't necessarily make the definition any easier.
While Sun Microsystems maintained in the nineties that "the network is the computer", Microsoft was not going to rest until a Windows computer sat on every desk. This prediction became a reality. Microsoft was able to rest and is actually looking for new markets and new products.
The computer that Microsoft was concerned with was a mixture of data files and binary executable files. Files with executable binary contents are called programs, and were bought and installed by customers to manipulate data. Microsoft Office was the winner in most of the offices around the world.
The computer that Sun was working with was a cheap, dumb terminal with a screen, a keyboard, a mouse, and access to the Internet. The programs and data were not stored on this computer, but somewhere on the net.
The mine philosophy governed Microsoft's practices whereas the our philosophy was adopted by Sun.
The motivation for these philosophies in both the companies was commercial interest. Microsoft primarily sold software for PCs to the consumer market; Sun, on the other hand, sold server hardware and programs to the enterprise market.
The Internet, invented in the sixties, underwent an explosive growth in the mid-nineties. Among other things, Hyper Text Markup Language (HTML), the language used to write web pages, and the development of web servers and web clients (browsers) helped its expansion.
The Internet itself is merely a set of rules that various devices could understand and with which they could communicate with each other in such a clever way that it covered the entire planet in almost no time.
An individual without an email address could no longer be reached and a company without a website was not only old-fashioned, but didn't exist in the eyes of many customers. The whole world swarmed to the Internet within a short time to become a part of it. Movies like The Matrix became a huge hit and 1984, a book by George Orwell, was successfully superseded.
Those who were used to buying programs bought HTML editors and created Internet pages with them. The others preferred to write their own HTML code with whatever text editor they had on hand. And the web agency, where one could order a web page, was born.
Both groups faced the problem that HTML pages were static. To change the content of the page, it had to be modified on a local PC and then copied to the server. This was not only awkward and expensive, but also made web presences like eBay or Amazon impossible.
Both the groups came up with fixes to more or less solve this problem.
The mine faction developed fast binary programs, with which one could produce HTML pages and load them via automated procedures onto the server. Interactive elements, such as visitor counters, among others, were built into such pages.
The our faction discovered Java applets and with them the capability of writing a program that resided centrally on a server and could be maintained from a browser. Entire business ideas, like online booking and flight reservation concepts, were based on this solution.
Both the groups tried to increase their market share in different ways. The result was quite a stable market for both, in which passionate battles over the correct operating system (Windows, Linux, or Mac OS X) constantly drove the version numbers higher and higher. Customers got used to the fact that nothing was easy.
There is always a third option in these situations. In our case, it was, among other things, the emergence of open-source scripting languages like PHP (http://www.php.net). Rasmus Lerdorf wanted to offer interactive elements on his homepage and with that a new programming language was born. From the outset, PHP was optimized in perfect cooperation with the MySQL database, which was also under the GNU/GPL license.
Fortunately, there was the Linux operating system and the Apache web server that offered the necessary infrastructure on the server. The display medium at the client side was the browser. LAMP (Linux, Apache, MySQL, and PHP) soon became synonymous with database-supported, interactive presence on the Internet.
The most diverse systems like forums, communities, online shops, voting pages, and similar things that made it possible to organize contents with the help of a browser were developed in an enthusiastic creative rush.
Soon after the 'difficult' things such as Linux and Apache had been created, the 'soft' products were developed.
The nineties were nearing their end; the Internet share bubble burst and all of a sudden the trend was to build unmitigated classical business models with unmitigated classical methods.
Whenever the economy isn't doing well, costs are scrutinized and the options for lowering costs are contemplated. There are now, as there were earlier, numerous options! PHP applications had distribution in the millions. We only need to look at the phpBB (http://www.phpbb.com/) and phpMyAdmin (http://www.phpmyadmin.net/) projects as examples. One developed to become the quasi-standard for forum software and the other, the standard for manipulating MySQL databases via web interfaces.
The source code of the PHP language and the applications became better and better quickly due to the enormous number of users and developers. The more open a project was, the more successful it became. Individual gurus were able to save enterprises immense amounts of money in next to no time.
Static HTML pages were considered old and expensive, and were overhauled. They had to be dynamic! Developers have been working in this environment for a decade now. Linux, Apache, MySQL, and PHP were readily accepted in the industry. The search for professionally usable PHP applications had begun.
With this search one looks for:
A simple installation process
Easy serviceability of the source code
Security of the source code
Simple job training for new developers
Standardized interfaces to other programs
Independence from the supplier
The special advantage of PHP applications is the independence from hardware and operating system. LAMP also exists as WAMP (Windows, Apache, MySQL, and PHP) for Windows, MAMP (Mac, Apache, MySQL, and PHP) for Apple, and for numerous other platforms. And now Joomla! finally enters the picture.
An Australian company, Miro (http://www.miro.com.au), developed a CMS called Mambo in the year 2001. It made this system available as open-source software to test it and to ensure wider distribution. In the year 2002, the company split its Mambo product into a commercial and an open-source version. The commercial variant was called Mambo CMS, the open-source version Mambo Open Source or MOS for short. By the end of 2004 all parties involved had agreed that MOS could officially be called Mambo and that a successful future for the fastest developing CMS of its time would be jointly secured.
The advantages of the commercial version were primarily the increased security for companies and the fact that they had Miro, which also supported further development, as guidance.
The open-source version offered the advantage that it was free and that an enormous community of users and developers alike provided continuous enhancements. In addition, it was possible for enterprises to take Mambo as a base and to build their own solutions on top of it.
In order to secure the existence and the continued development of Mambo, there were deliberations on all sides in the course of the year 2005 to establish a foundation for the open-source version of Mambo. In the fall of 2005 the establishment of the Mambo Foundation was announced on the Mambo project page. After positive reactions during the first few hours it quickly became obvious that Miro in Australia had established the foundation and that the developer team had not been included into the plans for the incorporation. Heated discussions erupted in the forums of the community and the developer team wrapped itself in silence for a few days.
A short time thereafter a position was finally taken by the developing team and published on opensourcematters.org, announcing that it would be advised by the neutral Software Freedom Law Center (http://softwarefreedom.org/) and that it was planning the continued development of Mambo under its own responsibility. The prospect of an improved Mambo based on new source code immediately made its way into the forums.
Quickly, a war of the roses developed between the Miro-dominated Mambo Foundation that was all of a sudden without a development team, and the development team itself, which, of course, needed a new name for the split entity, and an inflamed international community of hundreds of thousands of users. The parties sometimes called each other names in blogs, forums, and the respective project pages.
Meanwhile, development of both projects continued. The fork was called Joomla!
The development team put great value on democratic rules. The new project needed a logo and therefore a contest was announced to the 'new' community. By that time, about 8,000 users had registered with the new forum.
The Mambo Foundation soon thereafter introduced its new development team.
Version 1.0 of Joomla! was published on the 17th of September 2005.
Quickly many of the third-party developers, groups that had been developing Mambo components, switched the projects Simpleboard (today FireBoard), DOCman, and many others to Joomla! and therewith endorsed the trust in the new project. The prefix
mos that had been used in so many variables and terms was quickly transformed to
A detailed summary of these events can be accessed on the Internet at: http://www.devshed.com/c/a/BrainDump/Joomla-is-the-New-Mambo/
Two years after its foundation, Joomla! was one of the most popular open-source projects in the world. However, a lot of time was wasted in those two years on organizational trench warfare and intercultural misunderstandings due to the restructuring.
The Web 2.0 celebrated its victories. User-created content became more and more important. Second life and its virtual reality became world famous. The programming language Ruby and in particular Ruby on Rails was being used more and more to develop websites. Programming interfaces played an ever larger role.
Joomla 1.0x looked and looks a little old and gray in this company. It had not exhausted its developmental options, but users looked longingly at systems like Plone, Typo3, Drupal, and lot of others that did not have the problems that come with sheer size and reorganization and that were able to constantly incorporate new technologies into their projects.
For the past two years Joomla! version 1.0x has not really been expanded any further, but security updates with minor code changes have been released. A two-year waiting time for a new version is not good advertising for the project. Joomla! has often been declared dead and was frequently ridiculed during this time and derisive articles on the lines of How to ruin an amazing software project! appeared in the trade.
However, the project team has come through with Joomla! version 1.5. Now that everything has been discussed fully in forums, mailing lists, emails, and personal meetings, Joomla!'s future is now rosier than ever in my eyes.
On one hand, upgrading from version 1.0x to1.5x is going to take some effort, since there is no full downward compatibility due to the changed source code. However, on the other hand, this definitely launches Joomla! into the league of business-capable content management systems. The clever strategy of creating building blocks with Joomla! (Joomla! framework), with which developers can be part of the new developments, is going to pay dividends.
It is finally possible to choose various methods of authentication to create barrier-free websites in various languages, and to take part in the Web 2.0 mashups wave that is clearly spilling into enterprises. The road to developing components in environments such as Eclipse is now open.
With its existing community, developer, and installation density, Joomla! will simply blanket many sectors of this market. Many hosting providers are already offering Joomla! pre-installed to their clients so that there will be no serious problems when upgrading from simpler websites.
Using Joomla! as an example, I will briefly explain the structure of a WCMS.
A WCMS consists of a front end and a back end. The front end is the website that the visitors and the logged-on users see.
The back end, on the other hand, contains the administration layer of the website for the administrators. Configuration, maintenance, cleaning, the generation of statistics, and new content creation are all done in the back end by authorized people. The back end is at a different URL than the website.
Whenever we talk of management, we talk of the clever administration of existing resources. In a WCMS, user names and group names are assigned to the people involved and each one of them is assigned different access rights. This ranges from a simple registered user through an 'author' and 'editor' up to the 'super-administrator', who has full control over the domain. Based on the rights, the website then displays different content; an option is available to edit content directly in the front end, or the user is given the right to work in the back end.
Content can come in all kinds of forms; in the simplest case, it is text. However, content can also be a picture, a link, a piece of music, a snippet from an application like Google Maps or a combination of all of these. To keep an overview of the content, one embeds it in structures, for example, texts of different categories. The categories, of course, are also content that needs to be administered. Newsfeeds have become very popular, since Internet Explorer 7 now has the capability to read RSS feeds and more than 80% of computer users still use this browser. Newsfeeds give you the option of integrating information from other sources. Integration, categorization, rating, mashing, and updating of newsfeed content is becoming more and more important.
Components, modules, templates, and plug-ins are all referred to as Extensions. They offer additional functions that are not contained in Joomla!'s core.
Joomla! has to be expandable and should be able to grow with the requirements. Extensions that offer additional functionalities and that usually have their own area in Joomla!'s administration are called components. For example, typical components of recent years are an online shop, a picture gallery, and a newsletter or forum system. Today things like search engine optimization, user rights, multi-page forms, and variable content structures are becoming more and more important.
Components contain the business logic of their site and display content in the 'main body' of the website.
A template is a kind of visual editing pattern that is placed on the top of content. A template defines the colors, character fonts, font sizes, background images, spacing, and partitioning of the page, in other words, everything that has to do with the appearance of a page. A template is made up of at least one HTML file for the structure of the page and one CSS file for the design. It can also have a far more extensive structure in order to prepare Joomla! content for barrier freedom or for a completely different purpose.
A plug-in is a piece of programming code that is appended at certain places in the Joomla! framework to change its functionality. Such a plug-in can, for instance, be used inside content text to load the content of a module into the text. Plug-ins are also used in a comprehensive website search in order to integrate additional components. Sometimes plug-ins are used like a macro language in Joomla! Special modules pertaining to components are used to integrate content in the desired form into templates. The Recent News module, for example, delivers the headlines of the last five articles that were placed by the Content component to the template. Another module, for example, determines the number of users that are on-line at the moment and displays the result.
By workflow one understands a sequence of operations. The bureaucratic set of three (mark, punch, and file) is an example of a workflow. A recipe for baking a cake is also a workflow. Since several people usually work with CMS content, well-organized workflows are a tremendous help.
In the past, one also referred to work inventories that a certain user has. For example, the editor sees a list of non-published pieces of news, which he or she has to examine for correctness. After examining them, the editor marks the pieces of news as correct and they appear in the work inventory of the publisher. The publisher then decides whether to publish each piece on the front page.
Settings that apply to the entire website are specified using the configuration settings. This includes the title text in the browser window, keywords for search engines, switches that permit or forbid logging on to the site or that switch the entire page offline or online, and many other functions.
Today an Application Programming Interface (API) has to be provided to be with the times. It has to be possible (and it is) to access Joomla! from other programs and to invoke it remotely to some extent. This opens up entirely new applications that were previously not feasible with Joomla! An API is the most important link between third‑party extension developers and the Joomla! core.
Joomla! is a kind of construction kit that, once installed on the server, enables you to create and maintain your website. Joomla! is like a house that you build on a property of your choice and that you can furnish gradually. Thus, to a certain extent, it is real estate.
Stop! I was talking about mobility all the time and now I'm asking you to build real estate? Have no fear, the real estate you build is physically at one place (your server), but is accessible from everywhere. To make a piece of real estate habitable, you need necessary services such as heating, electricity, and water supply. That is the reason your Joomla! is deposited at a server as as safe as possible, where hopefully, the electricity will never be cut. We are talking 24/7.
Just like with your house, you also have a certain room layout in Joomla!. You have a room to show off (content), for cooking and conversing (forum), for working (administration area), and a completely private one, one that you show only to good friends (member area). Perhaps you also have a large room that integrates all these areas.
It doesn't matter which room layout you decide on, you have to furnish your house, lay a beautiful floor, paper the walls, hang a few pictures on the walls (template), and of course, clean it regularly. This is because the numerous guests leave traces that are not always desirable.
A visitor needs an address (domain) to find your house. As many people as possible should be aware of this address. Since there is no residents' registration office on the Internet, you have to be the one that takes care of the topic, "How can I be found?"
Perhaps you also have a garden that surrounds your house and that has different entry gates. There is an official entrance portal, a back door, and perhaps another small, weathered garden gate for good friends.
And perhaps you don't like such types of houses and would rather use trailers, tents, mobile homes, hotels, or maybe you prefer community living and are glad to pay rent and don't want to think about all the details.
If you apply the last few sentences to your website, then you already see how important it is to know what you want, who you are, and how you want to look to your community. One cannot not communicate! One can, however, be quickly misunderstood. So plan your virtual house on the Internet properly. Put thought into the texts, into possible interactive elements like a calendar or a forum, and of course, an area that only registered users are allowed to see. Think about prompts that guide and don't patronize users and take a look at how others do it.
Talk with the people you want to address through your website. They will be honored to have been asked 'beforehand' and they will perhaps give you tips that were not obvious from your point of view. This is an economical and very effective option to gather ideas and to avoid the worst of mistakes. Invest your heart and soul into things that are absolutely crucial for the success of your website.
As with all software, there are different development steps with Joomla!. The Joomla! team published a roadmap on the 1st of September 2005 that started with Joomla! version 1.0.
The first Joomla! version consequently received the number 1.0, so that there was no confusion with the existing Mambo versions. Version 1.0 is a revised version of the last Mambo version 184.108.40.206. The revisions relate to the new name, known errors, and security patches. Mambo, in the meantime, has released version 4.6.2
In the last two years, thirteen Joomla! 1.0.x versions, which have improved and corrected a lot of small details in the code, have been released. If you have followed the development, you have probably noticed that Joomla! has become more and more reliable from version to version.
Joomla! versions abide by the three-step system.
Step 1 = major release number: This is incremented whenever profound changes are made at the source-code level. The version with the higher number sometimes is not compatible with earlier versions.
Step 2 = minor release number: This is incremented whenever significant changes to functionality are made. The higher version number is usually compatible (with minor customizing) with earlier versions.
Step 3 = maintenance release number: This is incremented whenever errors are repaired and safety gaps are plugged. An increase of this number indicates only minor changes and very minor new features. These versions are fully compatibly with the versions of the same step 1 and 2 number.
Full release: This is a change in the step 1 and 2 system. With these, alpha and beta test periods are given. The length of the test periods is not fixed and is at the discretion of the development team. Beta versions should be available for testing for at least three weeks in order to give component developers the time to customize their components.
Maintenance release: This release can be used immediately.
Version 1.5.0 represents the first full release after two years. There were alpha and beta versions and release candidates. Third-party developers are customizing their components for the new version. The community tests the software for any incompatibilities with the prior version.
You can follow the reporting and fixing of bugs on Joomla!'s website and if you find a bug, you can report it there. You will also find the list of requested improvements (http://joomlacode.org/gf/project/joomla/tracker/) there.
The development process for Joomla! 1.5 has largely been unnoticed since the fall of 2005. The concepts for version 1.5 were already quite concrete at that time and in February 2006 the first alpha-version was released.
This road map can, of course, change at any time, it does, however, represent a good framework for orientation. The following table shows the Joomla! roadmap (status as of November 2007).
Date of Release
17. Feb. 2005
Last stable version of Mambo
From Sep. 2005
Transfer of Mambo version 220.127.116.11
Corrections of bugs and security patches
Last stable version of Joomla! 1.0.13
Internationalization (total support for UTF-8)
Administration interface capability for every language
Database: Support for MySQL- and MySQLi-database servers
FTP system, to sidestep the PHP safe mode with providers
Fundamental changes and overhaul of the structure, the framework, of Joomla! itself and with it preparation for the possibility to create barrier-free websites with Joomla!
Separation of programming logic and layout
Improvement to search engine friendliness (SEF)
Reworked caching mechanism
Joomla 1.5 Beta 2
Developer documentation (API, How-to's) API tuning
Redeveloped support for search-engine friendly URLs
Barrier-free Beez template in the core
July 2007 - December
Security and performance improvements
Testing on various platforms and in various browsers
Joomla 1.5 stable
The stable version
Future verions of Joomla
No dates given
New user access control system
Version control for content
Multi-site installations (many Joomla sites in one Joomla installation)
Virtual file system
As can be seen from the table, the 1.5 version is the first true Joomla!. The Joomla! team spent the first year stabilizing the inheritance from Mambo under the Joomla! name and charting their own direction. The changes in Joomla! 1.5 clearly reveal future developments.
Every piece of static text can now be translated into language files. This is in particular relevant for the administration area, which up to now was only available in English.
Support of scripts that are written from right to left (i.e. RTL, Arabic, Hebrew, Farsi, and Urdu).
Complete changeover to the UTF-8 character set for coding and displaying all characters in Unicode.
Mambots are now called plug-ins and user plug-ins, authentification plug-ins, xmlrpc plug-ins, and system plug-ins now join content, editor, and search plug-ins.
Alternative login mechanisms from external programs, among others, can be used with the aid of these plug-ins.
XML Remote Procedure Call (XML-RPC) is a specification that allows software on different systems and in different environments to communicate. All the important programming languages are supported and there are libraries that change the code into XML-RPC (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/XML-RPC). Joomla! also offers such an interface. With it, for instance, it is possible to post an image from Flickr or write an article with OpenOffice and to subsequently publish it in Joomla! This opens up fascinating options for developers; for example they can now access Joomla! from a Java program.
Joomla! 1.5 contains an abstraction layer that makes it possible to run Joomla! with various database versions. However, only one of these databases can be used for each particular Joomla! installation. At the moment MySQL 4.x, 5.x are supported. Additional databases will be supported in the future.
An FTP layer has been added to avoid problems with file access rights. Therefore, installation of new components and other uploads can be handled via PHP upload and via FTP. The service providers' restrictive (but reasonable) approach in terms of the PHP language had made the installation of extensions and the downloading of files in general, more difficult.
There has been no such thing as a framework in terms of a packaged kit for Joomla! functionality so far. It did, however, become crystal clear after the fork that the old Mambo source code had to be improved just about everywhere. It became necessary to rewrite and code Joomla!'s functionality cleanly. A framework has to be flexible, scalable, separated from the output, and above all be comprehensible so that a third-party developer can write good components in a reasonable amount of time. A proprietary API (Application Programming Interface) is essential for that.
Barrier freedom is an important topic and it has been a legal obligation in Germany for government websites to be barrier free since the first of January 2006. W3C has written standards for it. Joomla! 1.5 already has a complete barrier free template (Beez) and with it the option to comply with these standards.
Barrier freedom is achieved by compliance with these standards (valid HTML/XHTML) and by the complete separation of content (text, images, etc.) from layout by the use of cascading style sheets (CSS). This statement applies 100% to the front end at the moment. The administration area is also scheduled to become completely barrier free in later versions. Currently it can be used by at least a person without vision.
Support for search-engine friendly URLs has been removed from the Joomla! core and swapped into a plug-in. This makes it possible to add functionality with third-party components, which was very difficult before.
Since 2005 Google has been supporting talented students and their ideas in its Summer of Code Project (http://code.google.com/soc/2007/) with certain open-source projects to the tune of $ 4,500 each. Instead of taking whatever summer job is available to earn money, they can work on their hobby for the collective good and of course also to the benefit of Google. Every year the Summer of Code brings stunning amounts of PR, good ideas, and good programmers to Google. The open-source projects also benefit from the strategy of attracting new talent and of course from the results of the projects. In each case one member of the respective project community becomes mentor to one student.
The results of these projects will be and have been gradually integrated into Joomla!. Last year as well (2007), there were students programming for Joomla! and being paid by Google.
Extending the Nested Sets Model with 'Hardlinked Nested Sets'—Enno Klasing, mentor Louis Benton Landry. (This has to do with the popular deep nesting of categories.)
Email interface for Publishing—Nur Aini Rakhmawati, mentor Mateusz Krzeszowiec. (This has to do with the creation of Joomla! content by means of sending an email.)
Semantic Web Integration—Mickael Maison, mentor Andrew Eddie. (This has to do with the integration of geographic standards such as KML and GeoRSS, in order to be able to manipulate these data in Joomla!, for example the home town of the user as a map-image.)
Eclipse Plugin for developing Joomla's Component/Module—Muhammad Fuad Dwi Rizki, mentor Laurens Vandeput. (This has to do with the creation of a Joomla! plug-in for the popular developer environment Eclipse, in order to easily create Joomla! components.)
General content recommendation component for Joomla—Faolan Cheslack-Postava, mentor Samuel Alexander Moffatt. (This has to do with automatic recommendation of content in a particular context at a particular time.)
The following is a listing of Joomla! features in point form:
Free source code
A large and eager community of users and developers
Simple workflow system
Publishing system for contents
File manager for uploading and administering files
Content summaries in RSS format
Trash can for deleted content
Multilingualism for website and administration interface
Administration interface that is separated from the website
Macro language for content (plug-ins)
Caching mechanism to secure fast page creation with popular sites
Simple installation of additional extensions
Powerful template system (HTML, CSS, PHP)
Hierarchical user groups
Simple visitor statistics
WYSIWYG editor for content
Rating system for content
There are numerous free and commercial extensions at http://extensions.joomla.org/, for instance:
Document management systems
And about 2000 more
In order to get a feeling for what Joomla! pages look like and whether "the" Joomla! page even exists, have a look at a few:
Last but not least the Stuttgart SP Veículos Ltd from São Paulo. This company has taken part in the entire history of development from Mambo to Joomla! and has now upgraded to Joomla! 1.5.
You can find a listing of Joomla! websites in the Site Showcase of the forum at: