Joomla 1.6 review
To rework extension handling, gone is the tabbed access to lists of installed modules, components, plugins, templates and language packs. You now get Install, Update, Manage, Discover and Warnings tabs and a drop-down type filter, which makes it more intimidating, but more powerful. In particular, you can install advanced extensions handled as zips within zips, and Joomla can warn users when extensions are out of date and enable automatic updating. This is a major step forward, but Joomla’s extension handling still lags behind Drupal’s, and is antediluvian compared to the plugin handling in WordPress.
The biggest changes in Joomla 1.6 are found in its control over users. Load the User Manager from the Control Panel or new User menu and you’ll find two new tabs. User Groups lists all Joomla’s in-built groups – Registered, Author, Editor and so on – and now lets you add your own, such as Supplier. Viewing Access Levels lets you create a new access level, say Customer, and link this to appropriate user groups. You can then mark off content to only be viewable by logged-in members of particular groups. You can do something similar with languages, to create international sites tailored to particular countries.
Joomla 1.6 extends the idea of group access levels beyond simply viewing content. In particular, using the new Permissions tab on the Global Configurations page, you can set whether user groups can create, delete or edit content. The system certainly isn’t simple: changing settings affects other groups in the hierarchy and, with just eight permissions to manage, the level of control is strictly limited. However, Joomla claims the majority of usage scenarios are catered for.
For some users, Joomla 1.6’s new access control will prove an important advance, but it adds complexity for all, and the end result falls short of Drupal’s truly granular permissions system. Moreover, this latest release sees Joomla fall further behind in terms of customisable content types and Drupal 7’s new field handling.
There’s no doubt that Joomla is an advanced CMS, especially well suited to the workgroup-based creation of traditional websites. But there’s an inescapable feeling that Joomla’s long past is catching up with it. Rather than taking the challenge to the more community-oriented Drupal and the more individual-oriented WordPress, Joomla 1.6 is left struggling to adapt while more flexible rivals move in on its turf.
|Software subcategory||Web development|
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