Wednesday, May 20, 2009

My Experience with Joomla a Open Source Content Management System (CMS)

I’ve been doing a major overhaul on my wife’s websites.

She had previously been using Web Studio 3.0 and after several years of changes the html code of her web pages things had gotten really messy.

I did some research and determined that the best thing to do to create a clean professional website that she could edit and change as needed with new information was to use a Content Management System (CMS)

I have some experience with MySQL and PhP due to the PhPBB3 web form I run Better Breeders Corner BBC Forum

I downloaded XAMPP which allowed me to setup a live in-house web server at my house on one of my spare computers. This way I could work on building the new site and then after I finished it and had it working like I wanted I could back up the mySQL database and the joomla files and then upload them, restore the mySQL database and then edit the configuration files so it recognized the new server.

Then I googled for CMS software and went through the list looking for popular Open Source CMS software and downloaded several different CMS software packages.

The software packages that I tried were.

WordPress - (not bad but a little limited for what I wanted to do)

Drupal - (didn’t have much luck with figuring this out, got it to run but couldn’t get it to do what I wanted, kinda complicated)

and then I tried out Joomla!

Joomla isn’t for beginners, but it was a lot easier for me to setup than Drupal. I had found the software I wanted to use to manage my content next came the configuration and design part.

I set down and looked over the page layouts for Web Studio (which looked horrible in Mozilla Firefox, the text was all jumbled up so badly I had to use Infernal Explorer aka Internet Explorer to view the pages) so I could copy and paste text as needed.

Next I accessed the ftp site for the old site and downloaded all of the images and html pages just to be on the safe side.

Then I sat down and started working on setting up the top menu with the menu entries and then linking those menu entries to place holder articles with plans on pasting in the text later.

Once I had all of the articles created with pictures I started working on coming up with a good web design template for the “look” of the site.

I highly recommend Artisteer for this, It allows you to design very nice templates, and has the ability to suggest designs if you are not sure how you want your site to look. If you don’t mind using a template that others may be using too for their site, there are plenty of free Joomla templates available if you google for this phrase in google or other search engines.

Here are two sites that I’ve setup using Joomla

Tsuwa Golden Retrievers and Snapdraggon Japanese Chins

The Japanese Chin Information Center

I had to do some manual hacking to create my own templates as I don’t have the money right now to buy Artisteer but It’s definately in my list of software to buy, as it’s worth every penny.

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