WordPress compared to Joomla

This is my attempt to stress out my impressions of WordPress. Now after two months of intensive use of WordPress I think I can compare this brilliant blogging software with Joomla CMS (formerly Mambo), I used before. Some of you will say that Joomla and WordPress are different conceptually. Yes, they are. And I will keep this in my mind. I will compare them as personal publishing platforms. First, even completely different software can be compared in terms of usability, expandability, speed and potential for future growth.

As for potential, WordPress is a winner. Being aimed from the beginning on publishing as a priority task, it is still (at v2.0) simple and fast when it comes to publishing. In Publishing world content is just content – text and some images and publishing is just putting this on a page.

Joomla uses three levels of external features – Components, Modules, and Mambots. Components, Modules and Mambots were core Mambo objects from the beginning. All of them just functionality add-ons. And looking from WordPress platform I don’t understand why one would need three kinds of external objects to add some functionality. Needless to say this adds complexity to admin side and some confusion as well.

Modules main role is to present content in some specific form on a page, say, recent articles. Component, for example download manager, prepares some data and also may present data on a page or use other modules specifically programmed for that component. Why not to use just some kind of Module interface for both tasks? And don’t forget about mambots – some kind of plug-in.

There are hundreds, if not thousands, of third party components and modules (thanks to open source nature of Joomla) and all of them are installed using installation menu in admin backend, specifying position, parameters etc. Usually you do not need to change anything manually in templates. Although in many cases after installation you see that header for new component content is not of your style or margins are wrong. You still need to go to the style sheet file or php to adjust some code.

Existence of components, modules, and mambots assumes three interfaces in core code plus main content flow interface. Need for maintaining complex core structure with interfaces for several objects gives us very slow upgradeability of Joomla, taking too much time for bug fixes. Complexity of core code and “Bad genes” – ItemId issue among them from first release of Mambo by Miro International is migrating with code through all recent releases of Joomla. The core still contains tables in many files. Although core developers are aware of all weaknesses, they don’t make any attempts for major core changes. I think the code needs to be rewritten from the scratch. And as a result new releases bring only evolutional changes. Thanks to “good genes” – Joomla is user friendly and fairly simple to use (compared to other CMSs)

As for speed, I don’t think it is fair to compare Joomla and WordPress, being differently targeted. But as a personal publishing system WordPress is much faster. I’m pretty sure if WordPress will develop (at some point) to CMS system it still will be faster, being aimed for this from the ground.

Sure, Joomla is more powerful as a CMS, but … who knows… WordPress at version 1.5 was already good choice as a personal publishing system. Now, at v2.0 with revolutionary changes in core (which will help dramatically increase expandability), it may outperform Joomla as a CMS.

WordPress uses from the beginning only one external code interface – Plug-in’s. That means less code. The core concept is content flow management – you can organize and present content in many ways using one basic Loop. You do not need modules or components or php knowledge to get 10 recent articles – three rows of code with minimum changes from the main loop. WordPress developers are focused on publishing content and providing developers with one and flexible interface to core functions.

So, if to compare these two software as a personal publishing system, I would say that WordPress built around writing content and publishing that content. Joomla from the beginning built around presentation of content – reflecting absolute meaning for CMS – Content Management System. Managing content in some nice way first and only then writing and publishing it.

So, my advice – if your main goal is personal publishing – go with WordPress. If you need well presented portal – go with Joomla. But this is true only as of today :)