Today we said goodbye to Joomla! This site (http://brainsys.com) and Smithy’s Joinery (http://smithys.net) became WordPress CMS websites. Sadly we also had to say goodbye to our valued client iTrinegy (http://itrinegy.com) who we could not convince to come with us into the promised land. They have moved to a Joomla provider elsewhere.
Why did we do this? Well its been coming for some time but a security flaw this summer saw two of our servers commandeered for spam mail spewing trojans. It cost us two days cleaning up and sorting the spam blacklisting companies. They were very co-operative and speedy which was a lifesaver. Still its a place we don’t want to go again.
Joomla! enthusiasts will rightly point out that the security flaw had been patched and we should not have been running outdated software. Absolutely right! We don’t do that sort of thing by choice. The problem was we had no choice. This arises from, what we believe, a basic issue with the Joomla! development community.
Joomla! was a fork in the Mambo development and, with Drupal, aimed at being a fast efficient state of the art CMS. The trouble is being best and having the nicest code is exactly what has driven the developers. Great if you are looking for a pure CMS. The real world needs more than the best CMS. It wants one that works, doesn’t cause issues and will update without frustration. These are precisely the factors that Joomla! is appallingly bad at.
Versions 1.5, 1.7, 2.5 & 3.0 were not an evolution. They were virtually rewrites. The themes and extensions that worked on the previous version did not, or took a long time, to work on the next. Clients do not wish to pay for unnecessary change and by the time change is possible the next version is in sight. We became stuck between a rock and a hard place. Customers did not want to pay or upgrade in Joomla!’s timeframe. Or clients saw security as our issue while insisting on maintaining ageing sites whose flaws were becoming increasingly exploited.
Not only that – but when we did persuade users to upgrade – the problems multiplied. Joomla! is now designed to be fast and secure and is built to run in a defined environment particularly with regard to php settings and modules. Unfortunately these settings are not standard for WHM – the server software we use. WHM (aka cPanel) is the dominant supplier in this market. It is the de-facto standard by which almost all other providers of server software aim to work with. Which means to run the latest versions of Joomla! you have to mod and then check all your other software will work with the new configuration. If they don’t – tough!
We ended up running our Joomla! sites on a backup server which was far from ideal.
In the meantime we had used WordPress for sometime and watched, in wonder, its evolution from a simple blogging tool to possibly now the leading CMS for full blown business websites. Yes, its not particularly fast and far from elegant in the coding sense. But we can throw GHz at the speed issue and code is blind to everyone but coders. Meanwhile its origin make it simply the easiest CMS to use and its ubiquity brings the widest range of themes and plugins. Most of which are easily modifiable to meet client needs.
This profusion of add-ons will only fuel the growth of the WordPress market. Could this be another VHS/Betamax moment when the usability triumphs over technical superiority?