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Recommended Host for Joomla

We recommend Siteground for Joomla hosting. They'll give you a free domain when you sign up, and a choice of high-quality, professional templates to get you started. More importantly, they have over 250 reviews, with an average rating of 4.5 stars - they're a very safe and reliable choice.
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Need to manage your store's inventory? Joomla can do it. Want to build a catalog of the products you sell? Try Joomla. Ready to try a custom reservation system for your restaurant? Get Joomla. It can do all these things and much more.

For the most part, though, and for most website publishers, Joomla is a convenient CMS. From personal websites and blogs to corporate sites, Joomla can handle pretty much whatever you throw at it. The CMS isn't just for Internet-accessible websites, though. It can also be used to build company intranets that help employees stay in touch and informed.

The key to using Joomla to build your site is to find a host that supports it. This is not a difficult undertaking. Many hosts make Joomla available via the majority of their hosting plans. It does install a bit differently than WordPress does. Joomla is available as a script you can install on your site with just a click. The best part? It's free.

Joomla (or, to give it its full name, 'Joomla!') is one of many applications dished out to web hosting customers for free. Like WordPress, Joomla can be used to host a variety of different content types, making it a solid platform for web development.

Joomla actually goes one stage further: it can be used as the basis for web applications as well. As well as being a content management system (CMS), it is also a web application framework. The two components of Joomla can be used together or separately.

Joomla is ideal for the development of portals, blogs and corporate websites. It can also be developed into an e-commerce platform, an application bridge or a dynamic web application. Developers can extend the default features and code custom parts in PHP and MySQL.

History of Joomla

Joomla was launched in 2005 as a fork from the now defunct Mambo CMS, with 1.5 being released in January 2008 and version 3 appearing in September 2012. New releases are scheduled every six months.

The software is open source and freely distributable under the GNU General Public License. Like many other open source tools, it relies on the support of a network of developers who continue to innovate and breathe life into the software. To date, the software has been downloaded more than 50 million times.

Many people weigh up Joomla and WordPress for websites, but the two applications fulfil different purposes. Joomla is based on a traditional 'model, view, controller' (MVC) architecture. This supports the interactive controls and interface that users see. The MVC framework can be used without the CMS system.

Joomla is enhanced using extensions, which are discussed further down on this page.

Joomla Extensions

There are currently almost 8,000 extensions available in the official Joomla Extension Directory (JED), and this includes a mixture of free and commercial extensions. Many developers host extensions elsewhere, so the actual number is far higher. Not all extensions are compatible with all versions of Joomla, as you would expect.

The extensions Joomla uses are split into five categories according to their purpose:

  • Components, which are packages of functions responsible for creating large areas of the web page, and are therefore larger than other extensions
  • Modules, or boxes, where page content is rendered
  • Plugins, which process executable events in Joomla
  • Templates, the extensions that control how the site looks (as they do in WordPress and other systems). From Joomla 3, templates are responsive
  • Languages, which handle translations, language and font information

How to Deploy Joomla

Joomla is designed to work with Linux, Apache, PHP and MySQL - otherwise known as LAMP. A Linux server is therefore the best option, although Joomla can also be installed on Windows servers.

Recommended specs for 3x are:

  • PHP 5.4+ recommended / 5.3.10 required
  • My SQL 5.1+
  • Apache 2.x or IIS 7

Many web hosts advertise the version of PHP they're using. If yours doesn't, ask pre-sales advisors to confirm Joomla compatibility before you sign up.

There are three main ways to get started with the application. You can use a quick trial, a hosted trial, or a web hosting account:

  • Before you settle on Joomla, try the online Test Drive for an instant peek behind the scenes at the software. This is an anonymous demo that doesn't retain any of your information (it expires after 90 minutes), but it does give you control panel access in a click - handy for evaluation. Note the countdown in the footer that shows you how long you've got before it resets.
  • For a longer evaluation period, the hosted version of Joomla is free for 90 days. This gives you plenty of time to try out the tool and compare it to the alternatives. You get more functionality than the Test Drive, and you can sign up for a SiteGround hosting account at the end of the trial if you want to retain your data. Get started with the official demo on the Joomla website. You can also access handy video content that will help you find your way around.
  • Decided to go ahead with your own hosting account? On most Linux hosting packages, Joomla is available as a one-click installer, so even the cheapest shared hosting package will work. Note that the capacity of a shared hosting account may not suffice if you have a large business website.

Once you're up and running, check out the Joomla forums for help and support.

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