Joomla! is very cool

5 May 2008 – 7:51 pm

About five years ago I set up a couple of websites, one for my rugby club and the other for a charity I am involved with for people like me who have had a particularly nasty operation on their bowels. In those days, the only show in town as far as open source content management systems were concerned was an application called PHP Nuke.

PHP Nuke was a bit clunky and took a little bit of getting used to, but it knocked the socks off maintaining a website by hand using HTML. It also allowed other people to maintain sites, something which has been hugely beneficial to my rugby website, which actually looks rather smart after I found a suitable theme.

Unfortunately, PHP Nuke is beginning to show its age. Its most serious drawback is that it wasn’t really coded with security in mind. Both my PHP Nuke websites were hacked a year or two ago by what appeared to be Russian teenagers having a laugh. Fortunately they didn’t destroy anything, they just vandalised the home page; my knowledge of PHP and MySQL is strong enough that I managed to get the sites back to normal and implement some emergency security patches, such as renaming the administrator page.

Five years later I decided to look around to see if there were any competitors to PHP Nuke, which seems to have gone down some strange route of charging a few dollars for people to get the latest version (older versions can still be downloaded for free). This is still within the letter of the GNU licence, but a minor hassle I could do without.

My friend Richard tried out Drupal, but found it rather too restrictive. So I tried out another open source content management system which seems to be getting a strong following: Joomla! (sorry about the exclamation mark).

I tried out version 1.0 and it worked a treat. Then I realised that there’s a new whizzy version 1.5 which has a stable release. It is lovely. It took a me a short while to get to grips with it, but the application is perfectly balanced between being simple and clunky (like early versions of PHP Nuke) and hugely flexible in a fiendishly complicated kind of way.

I have moved the charity website I look after from PHP Nuke to a slick new Joomla! version. Admittedly the new version has richer content, but that’s because it’s such a joy to use you keep wanting to add more stuff.

The rugby season is drawing to a close, so over the summer I’m itching to migrate my rugby club website from PHP Nuke to Joomla! (sorry, again, for the exclamation mark). The last time I worked on the sharp end of a data migration exercise was in 1992. Time to start sharpening up my MySQL skills.

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