I was privileged to be invited to attend the Joomla! Forum for the Future 2020 conference in Marbella Spain in 2020. 

It was a gathering of Joomla enthusiasts and active community members to look at the future plans for Joomla! It was fabulous to meet a variety of people from all over the world with such enthusiasm and a common love for Joomla.

It led me to think I ought to share my thoughts on Joomla, why I use it, what it means and what I think may be worth considering for the future.

My View of Joomla!

I love Joomla! and by that, I mean the product and the community. 

Why I use Joomla!

I have coded websites in a text editor writing flat HTML. I have dabbled with php manually written. I tried a small UK developed CMS called PHP-Fusion (I think it is still going) which was easy to get a simple site working, but was clunky to get templates to work and extensions were almost non existent and very messy to use. I had a copy of Dreamweaver - how do you use that :) ? So, what instead?

- Wordpress? (Yes, I see it as an alternative to Joomla!) 

- This thing called Drupal? - far too complex for my needs.

A friend suggested I look at this tool called Joomla!

First use, coming from PHP-Fusion, I found Joomla easy to get round but couldn't get anything to display??!!?

Lego computerI found an online Joomla! video course.... a few modules of that and I was flying - the Joomla! method of menus and content turned out to be my stumbling block.

I have exclusively used Joomla! ever since. It suits my needs; relatively easy to get a site going, with amazing extensions available where I could create anything I could think of; even a raffle ticket system and a retro car parts database using UK postcodes to search locations. Truly fabulous results with my new found 'adult lego set for the web'.


What would I like changed in Joomla?

Very little is needed to satisfy my needs to be honest - this is not to say there are many things that could be changed and new exciting directions, just I am very happy with the tool as it is. 

However, if I were to have a wish list, it would be:

  • Simple interface in back end for editing content for business owners who don't want to learn code to achieve a decent result. 
    • Currently any simple formatting most of the business world can do on their pc in an office application, often takes coding effort online 
    • This includes access flexibility to be able to change content in forms and other extensions without being given access to all extensions.
    • I may be out of date but some of the things I want to be able to do to allow restricted access to business owners force me to allow access to change extensions or even structure of the site e.g. adding menu items; where all I wanted was them to be able to change content in the existing structure
  •  Protection and support of key useful extensions that make Joomla a complete solution (see below)

However, I am happy with it as it is and the above won't stop me using it.

Future Considerations

To a business setting up a website, "Joomla!" is both the core & any extensions that combine to produce the service they need. They don't distinguish between the technical aspects, that there is a difference between the core and added extensions. It's just wholly seen as the toolset that builds their site.
Why am I bleating about this point?

commercial risk to business

riskWell... there is a lot of talk about the future of Joomla and some about the business considerations of stability and LTS (Long Term Support) and investment and stability vs. change. But if that only considers the core, then there is a huge commercial risk to businesses using Joomla for the end product toolset.
The Joomla project rightly shows off about the vast availability of components, modules, plugins and templates available which can extend functionality in any way a user can imagine. Also, the fact Joomla only publishes extensions that are compatible with the currently supported versions of the product is excellent - something most other products don't bother to cover.
Indeed these add ons often make the difference and power of Joomla. Yes, I know there is a technical push to use core and core only if possible, but often extensions are used and they are fabulous for functionality.

extend functionality in any way a user can imagine

But they are risky as they don't have the same backing as the core. Some are from established medium sized businesses offering a variety of free and paid support and future proofing, to others that are amazing technical solutions, but often a 'one-man band' who could either give up with stress or God forbid, be run over by a bus and that component would die.
If a business is reliant on that functionality then they are in a mess plus their perception will be that Joomla is to blame. (Remember they don't see a difference between core and extensions and don't really care - that is a technical detail).

essential to the success of Joomla!

So, I have a suggestion of some approach thinking that may help this, but not a final solution as there are a few variations that could solve this problem.
I feel that key, popular components and plugins are essential to the success of Joomla.
So, an idea is that Joomla could accredit some of the extensions and possibly underwrite them.
What I mean by this is: let's say there is a really good and popular extension, then the Joomla group could 
  • verify it is safe and aligns with the core policies and standards
  • underwrite it, such that if there was a problem with the provider of the component, then the core team would guarantee support and critical updates for a defined period.
or possibly:
Joomla could even choose some extensions to buy in to the core...
joomla heartHow this is done to protect the individual businesses offering the extensions needs some thought and care, but could form some form of partnership/agreement.
I am aware other CMSs have looked at extensions being used on x% of sites and when that reaches an agreed threshold they start to look at this sort of protection.
This would give businesses (surely the majority of the paying end users of Joomla) some commercial security.
Whatever is done, I do love Joomla and find it a fabulous tool to build websites for my customers and it has a wonderful community with fabulous quality extensions available. The above is purely a view and by no means the only view of Joomla.