Choosing an open-source CMS, part 2: Why we use Joomla

Two companies decide that Joomla has the feature set and usability they need for their websites.

In this, the second installment of our three-part series on finding the best open-source content management system (CMS) for your needs, we asked two organizations that use Joomla to explain why they felt that Joomla was the best choice for them, how the transition went, and whether they're happy with the results.

(To find out why other users chose Drupal or WordPress, be sure to check out part 1 and part 3 of this series.)

Joomla hasn't been around as long as WordPress or Drupal -- the first version debuted in 2005 when it split off from the Mambo open-source community. The Joomla community stakes its claim in the middle ground between its two open-source competitors: the sophisticated but complex Drupal and the more accessible WordPress. It offers an ease of use closer to that of WordPress while delivering some of Drupal's power and flexibility, according to Paul Orwig, president of Open Source Matters, the nonprofit that supports the Joomla open source initiative.

As a result, it has become the second most popular open-source CMS in use today. According to Web technology tracker W3Techs, as of Feb. 1 about 2.7% of all websites use Joomla. This is in comparison to WordPress at 17.4% and Drupal at 2.3%. According to Open Source Matters, as of November 2012, Joomla had been downloaded more than 36 million times, including more than 9.5 million in the previous 12 months -- a 27% increase.

[For in-depth reviews of these three open-source content management systems, see Site builder shootout: Drupal vs. Joomla vs. WordPress. Since that article was written, Joomla was upgraded; for a look at the new version, check out Joomla 3.0 review: Making way for mobile. Looking for development tools? Try 10 Joomla extension modules for easier and better websites.]

Joomla's committee-based governance model, born out of a secessionist movement from the Mambo Foundation, includes many passionate, independent thinkers, according to Paul Orwig, president of Open Source Matters. The community has experienced some violent disagreements over direction in the past, and with no benevolent dictator to make the final call, those disagreements have led to delays.

Despite that, the community released Joomla 3.0 last fall and has committed to issuing major updates every 18 months, with interim releases every six months for early adopters and developers. "We have to walk this balance between empowering everyone's ideas and at the end of the day releasing software every six months," Orwig says.

The latest version, Joomla 3.0, supports 68 languages, has more than 10,000 extensions available and offers state-of-the-art capabilities for developing mobile-friendly websites.

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