Looking at Open Source Content Management Tools

My hosting provider has a Fantastico installer, which was easy and fast. However, this installed a version a few minor releases behind the latest stable release available. I blew that one away, and downloaded the latest from www.joomla.org. Joomla!'s concept of a separate front/back interface strikes me as a little strange. It's unclear to me, what advantage this provides.

I'm interested in developing custom applications. Searching Amazon, I found plenty of books about using Joomla! to create a web site and add content. I bought "Joomla! 1.5: A User's Guide: Building a Successful Joomla! Powered Website (2nd Edition)" by Barrie M. North, and found it thorough and clear. However, the front end/backend thing, aside, using Joomla! is mostly intuitive.

Functionality is added to Joomla! through extensions. I was only able to find three books on Amazon claiming to teach Joomla! extension development. Also, I bought "Learning Joomla! 1.5 Extension Development" by Joseph L. LeBlanc. It was the one with the highest rating that didn't have "Cookbook" in the title. My thinking is that a cookbook wouldn't explain, but provide only recipes. Unfortunately, however, while the book I received doesn't call itself a cookbook, that's basically what it is. It's a set of examples. I followed these, and beginning with the first, found errors preventing them from working as presented. Debugging them was instructional.

The book advises inserting "<?php defined( '_JEXEC' ) or die('Restricted access'); ?>" as the first line to each php file for security. This hardly seems iron-clad. Reading forums, I see a lot of comments about Joomla! security weakness. Security will be important for a number of upcoming projects. So, I think it's time to give Drupal a try.

Again, I first used the Fantastico installer provided by my hosting provider. It was fast and easy, and I had a default web site running in a few minutes. As in the case of Joomla! this version was a few steps behind the latest stable release. Downloading and setting up the latest from drupal.org was straightforward. This only requires untarring the downloaded archive, creating a MySQL database, setting the permission of one file, and running the installation script.