Joomla! 1.6 aims squarely at enterprise

The new release, which comes out tomorrow, should solve some long-standing issues in the popular PHP-based CMS.

The biggest upgrade to Joomla! in some time drops Monday, in beta and aimed at making the open-source CMS more attractive to the enterprise community.

The free, open-source Joomla 1.6 has four key features that solve two primary issues problems — flexibility/control and ease of use:

  • New Access Control System - Allows site administrators control over who can view and manage content.
  • Unlimited Depth Organizational Model - Gives site administrators and content creators user-defined category levels that allow for the creation of a category tree with as many or as few levels for organizing articles and other content as needed.
  • One-Click Extension Updates - Allows users to keep sites secure and controlled by simplifying the process of updating extensions.
  • Semantic XHTML Layouts - Provide a better baseline for content presentation.

The new access control system will be heirarchical and make it simpler to set permissions on who's able to see what, said Louis Landry, development coordinator for the Joomla! Project. That's closely related to the new organizational model, which will make Joomla more attractive for a large-scale business with many different types of users.Joomla does have many large-scale users, including Citibank, University of Nebraska, IHOP and Linux.com, its roots are in the "mom-and-pop world," Landry said. So while its access control has worked fine for its users, it has sometimes been an issue for companies interested in building on the Joomla platform, he said.

While

It's taken time to make this change, Landry said.

"We don't like doing something unless we do it well. There have been, over the years, several rudimentary shots at solving this problem," he said.

"It's a justifiable complaint we've known about for a very long time," he said. As with any upgrade, he said, it could take a couple of iterations to get it just right and make everyone happy.

The other major change is the adoption of semantic html, replacing the markup language to a simpler, more intuitive system, Landry said. This move was more difficult, as it will cause all the templates already in use to stop working until the software is updated, he said, though Joomla has been working with users to ensure as little disruption as possible.

Today also marks a change in how often the Joomla! Project will make major releases, Landry said. Users can expect updates every couple of weeks to tweak the beta; at its "stable release date," a date will be set for the next big upgrade.

That will keep Joomla looking forward, increasing the number of new releases in the future and hopefully increasing interest.

Joomla is one of the three largest open-source CMSes — any of which could be ranked No. 1, depending on how you define "biggest."

While WordPress has the largest number of PHP installs, a large number of them are hosted on WordPress.com. And Drupal has some of the biggest sites — Warner Brothers Recordings, NASA and the White House. Joomla has had more than 16 million downloads (which, of course, doesn't equate directly into installs) from its principal distribution channel in English (millions more from the Spanish channel, and from other languages).

Frankly, it's pretty cool that there are three such robust open source CMS fighting for the top spot.

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