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Joomla 3.0 review: Making way for mobile

By Brian Proffitt
October 4, 2012 06:00 AM ET

Once all the software was in place, I had to perform the next step: Create a database with MySQL with which the CMSes would communicate. If you're familiar with the command line on Linux, this is not hard to do, and indeed it's not hard on Windows, with plenty of documentation out there to walk you through the process. To make my life easier, I also installed phpMyAdmin on the LAMP server. This Web-based interface makes it easier to install and configure the database Joomla needs to run efficiently.

If you don't want to worry about the Joomla installation, there are many ways you can install the software on a Web server. Many Web host providers allow you to select from a menu of CMS servers that can be directly assigned by the host provider to the domain or sub-domain you specify. No muss, no fuss. All you have to do is select what options you want, click a button, and in about 15 minutes you'll have a freshly installed Joomla server on your domain, ready to configure.

Another option is use a service like Bitnami, which provides open-source servers for installation on native devices, virtual machines or even cloud-based servers using Amazon's Web Services. I have used Bitnami servers before, and their installation was flawless every time.

Of course, since Joomla 3.0 just recently came out, you may have to wait for a while for Web hosts and services like Bitnami to catch up and actually provide this bleeding-edge version of Joomla.

However, if you don't want to wait, don't worry: Once the LAMP server is configured and the MySQL database is prepped, much of the hard work is done anyway, so installing it yourself from scratch isn't that bad.

After downloading the Joomla 3.0 software from the project's download page, installation begins by uncompressing the file into a new /joomla directory. Then it's just a matter of visiting YourWebSite/joomla in a browser to finish it up.

Joomla 3.0 has a much more compressed GUI installation than previous versions; there are now three screens to step through instead of the old six screens. Despite the compression of discrete steps, the installation is still straightforward.

Joomla 3.0
The first screen of a Joomla installation.

Especially welcome is the very complete Configuration review screen, which precisely outlines which features you selected for your site. It's not new, but the layout, like many of the design changes in this new version of Joomla, is easy to read and confirm.

As with past versions, Joomla's last installation screen also requests permission to install sample data in the new Joomla site, which is encouraged for beginners, but not for anyone else.

Why? If you're a beginner, these examples allow you to judiciously replace them with the content, layout and templates for your own Web site. That's why the material is there. But -- and this is a strong but -- if you have any experience with Joomla, then you will definitely not want to apply the sample data, because it will burden your site with a taxonomy of content and content categories that you probably will not want. Undoing all of these elements is possible, but time consuming, so think about building from scratch if you're comfortable with Joomla.

The only problem that I experienced with the install process was in the very last section: After finishing, Joomla requires you to remove the \Installation directory, because leaving it in poses a big security risk. Clicking the Remove button on the browser screen failed to work, so I had to use the command line to remove it myself. This is nothing that couldn't be done in a few second's time, but it would have been nice for the function to work as advertised.

Interface

I have always been a fan of Joomla's back end, because frankly, it's what a site administration control panel should look like: A single set of segregated pages that collects all the administrative tools in one place.

Joomla 3.0 is no exception. However, right out of the gate, anyone with any experience in CMSes is going to ask themselves, "Who spilled WordPress all over my Joomla?"

It's not that Joomla 3.0 copied WordPress' control interface. But there's a definite WordPress feel to the new control panel. The general layout has similarities: Controls are organized in blocks rather than the multi-column, very horizontal method found in previous versions of Joomla.



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