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Joomla CMS

Joomla CMS

March 25, 2008
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" Joomla stands out from the pack because of its user-friendliness and widespread popularity. "

For enterprising adult webmasters looking to build and control their own dynamic websites, content management systems (CMS) are a must, and the Joomla OpenSource CMS is an excellent solution for most developers, regardless of their experience level.

Content managers — online interfaces where webmasters can update and maintain their websites — have become standard for adult websites. Long gone are the days of updating static HTML pages. Sites powered with dynamic languages like PHP, CGI and ASP have dominated the adult landscape for years, but building these sites is usually the purview of experience programmers.

Content managers like Joomla have long since changed that. Some of Joomla's chief competitors include Drupal and PHPNuke.

Most of these systems include similar features:

  • A basic package of features that is ready to use upon installation.

  • Database-driven content.

  • Easy-to-install modules.

Joomla stands out from the pack because of its user-friendliness and widespread popularity. Installing it involves little more than uploading a file to your server and filling in a few fields, but be aware of its minimum requirements:

  • PHP 4.3.10

  • MySQL 3.23.x or above

  • Apache 1.3 or above

Once installed, Joomla provides users with a basic content structure (including basic sections and categories), as well as useful features that include an RSS feed, a registration module, a Google-powered search function and a variety of basic menu styles.

That's just where the fun starts, though. As an OpenSource enterprise, Joomla has thousands of programmers around the world writing new gadgets, gizmos and widgets for it, with new releases posted to its official site every day at extensions.joomla.org. To be sure, the official Joomla portal isn't the only place to find extensions — a simple Googling of "Joomla extensions" will provide alternatives — but it's a gamble to install extensions that aren't Joomla-approved.

The Joomla developers also took care to idiot-proof the way inexperienced webmasters look at how to build a site by separating extensions into three distinct groups:

  • Modules – chunks of code that perform a simple task and display usually as an HTML box. Examples: Login modules, RSS module.

  • Components – mini-applications that take up the entire main area of a web page. Examples: Message boards, galleries, video-sharing utilities.

  • Plugins – also known as "mambots" among the Joomla faithful, these are small widgets that users can add into most pages on their site with a simple bit of code. For example, one plugin lets users add a YouTube video into a content item by adding the code {youtube}video_id{/youtube}, replacing "video_id" with the video's unique YouTube identifier. When the page renders, the YouTube video replaces the code.

Joomla's flexibility isn't limited to what users can download and install, though. Every module, component and plugin can be opened and edited in any code editing program, providing even inexperienced PHP coders with endless opportunities to customize their websites.

The CMS itself also offers wide flexibility, with easy-to-edit HTML templates and CSS files. Most available modules come with the option to let webmasters edit and customize modules individually.

For webmasters who fear to tread on an actual PHP file, there are dozens of Joomla freelance sites where developers can post jobs for programmers to bid on. One of the most popular is JoomlaFreelance.co.uk.

Joomla's popularity provides developers with a vast network of support forums, including the central one at Forum.joomla.org. Posts with precisely worded questions usually get answered in a day or so, but be sure to include the version numbers of every extension in question.

Most third-party developers host their extensions at their own websites, and most are available for free. Almost all of these developers maintain their own message boards where they offer free support. A few even offer their email addresses.

For an adult webmaster, Joomla provides all the tools necessary to build and maintain a powerful, dynamic and customizable site. There are dozens of great extensions available for photo galleries, video sharing, message boards, comments and chat.

A few of the best include:

  • Zoom Gallery: A thermonuclear photo- and video-sharing utility with hundreds of customizable features. It's only drawback? It may have too many features.

  • Seyret Video-Sharing Component: The best YouTube clone available for Joomla. It's free and it works right out of the box, although some advanced coding may be necessary to unlock some of its more advanced features.

  • Community Builder: Probably the single most popular extension for Joomla, Community Builder lets webmasters add a MySpace or Facebook-style community to their member’s area, complete with customizable profiles. Scores of Joomla developers build extensions specifically for Community Builder, which has pushed the entire Joomla community into a shrinking orbit around Community Builder and its functionality — and that's a good thing. This extension can bring a dormant site to life with a few clicks of the mouse.

  • Fireboard: There are a lot of message board solutions available for Joomla, including some fairly competent ports of phpBB, but Fireboard trumps them all with its snazzy look and seamless compatibility with Community Builder.

  • Account Expiration Central: The best payment system for Joomla, so far. It's compatible with most major payment services, including PayPal, but the makers of Community Builder are working on their own subscriptions and payments extension that promises to make subscription-based sites even easier to build and maintain in Joomla.

  • VirtueMart: The most popular shopping cart extension available for Joomla. It comes with all the bells and whistles, including several modules used to display the most popular products, etc.

Alt-porn princess Joanna Angel had her personal website, JoannaAngel.com, built on a Joomla engine, and it works very well. Dozens of other adult web portals also run on a Joomla framework, some of them making novel use of its premier extensions.

For example, Chi Chi LaRue's gay online portal is a Joomla site, and his developers used Community Builder to build a huge database of star profiles, much like Danni.com features.

But Joomla's drawbacks are considerable. When confronted with a new problem or new request from a client, developers will spend hours installing and removing competing extensions before settling on the best one. Many extensions are only compatible with one version of Joomla, which means that some harmless-looking gizmos can bring a site to its knees in minutes.

The CMS' aforementioned widespread popularity is also a liability when a developer needs a specific extension, and that extension is only available from an overseas developer who doesn't speak much English. Some extensions also only come with documentation in a foreign language, which makes for some long nights spent crawling through AltaVista's BabelFish translator.

Joomla also doesn't offer an easy solution for a webmaster who wants to build a good, old-fashioned TGP. To be sure, there are plenty of gallery components available for Joomla, but maintaining a TGP will involve a lot of tedious coding and link-editing by hand in Joomla.

Security is also a concern for Joomla developers. The core CMS is solid, with frequent updates to fix security bugs, but not all of the extensions are so well maintained. A webmaster might have to install an older extension with a vulnerability that never got addressed because the developer stopped working on it. Sensible webmasters will consider hiring an outside expert to critique their site's security at all levels.

Despite those shortcomings, the Joomla CMS provides webmasters with a wealth of tools with which to build an adult website on the cheap and on the quick.


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