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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.

Joomla Frequently Asked Questions

  • What is Joomla? Joomla is a Free and Open Source content management system written in PHP.
  • What does it mean that Joomla is Free and Open Source? By “Free,” it is meant that the software is available without cost (“gratis” or “free as in beer”) and also without restriction (“libre” or “free as in speech”). By “Open Source” it is meant that the Source Code for the application is available for review and modification. Open Source also refers to the method of development. The software is developed by an open community of developers, not a private corporation.
  • What does it mean that Joomla is a content management system? A content management system is a software application that provides a way to easily create, edit, store, and display content on the web. There is a graphical user interface for adding and editing content, which could be pages, blog posts, images, or any other form of content. There is a database that stores content, and there are templates which display content to website visitors.
  • Is Joomla a popular Content Management System? Yes. Joomla Runs over 30 million websites and is the second most popular content management system on the web.
  • Is Joomla well-supported? Yes. There is complete documentation, a community forum, a magazine, events, workshops, mailing lists, video tutorials, and blogs. There are also a number of commercial companies that provide paid, premium support and consulting for Joomla.
  • What kind of websites can I build with Joomla? Almost any kind of content-focused website would be a good fit for Joomla. Many experts say that Joomla is especially good as the basis for an e-commerce or social networking site.
  • Ecommerce in a content management system? Yes. Products can be considered a form of content.
  • Is there any kind of website that wouldn’t be considered “content” based? Web-based applications for editing media like video and audio, command-and-control apps that run physical devices, heavy-duty data analytics.
  • I’m a beginner. Is Joomla a good choice for me? Maybe, but other options might be better. Joomla is easy enough to learn, but is more popular with developers than with inexperienced users. If you use a platform like WordPress, which has a larger base of beginner users, you might find it easier to get help and tutorials about your specific issues.
  • I’d like to start a blog. Should I use Joomla? If the only thing you are planning to do is run a blog, Joomla might be “overkill.” Another CMS that is more focused on blogging, like WordPress, might be a better choice. That being said, you certainly can run a blog on Joomla, and if you want to run a blog as part of a larger website (like an e-commerce site or a social media platform), Joomla might be a great choice.
  • Does Joomla have the functionality I need? Probably. Joomla has over 8000 plugins. Additionally, there is a very robust hook and filter system in place that makes it easy to add functionality and develop new plugins as needed.
  • Can I make a Joomla website look the way I want it to? Yes. Joomla has over 1000 free themes available, many of which are customizable. It is also relatively easy for an experienced developer to build a new theme based on a custom design, and there are a large number of professional developers you can hire to do this for you (and lots of tutorials if you want to learn to do it yourself).
  • Is it hard to get set up with a new Joomla website? Not at all. Many web hosting companies provide one click installation of Joomla from the control panel through tools like Fantastico or Softaculous. Even without an installation wizard, the install and setup process is not difficult.
  • Will Joomla run on my hosting account? Probably. Joomla requires PHP and MySQL, which are both widely supported by web hosting companies. You should double check, but if your hosting plan can’t support Joomla, that’s a red flag that you might not have quality hosting. (The exception to that, of course, is specialized hosting dedicated to some other specific software application. But again — that’s an exception.)
  • What are the major alternatives to Joomla? The two biggest competitors are WordPress and Drupal. They are both Open Source and written in PHP.
  • Joomla vs. WordPress. Which is better? That depends on what you are trying to accomplish, and also how well you know the platform. If you just want to get a quick, simple website up and running very quickly, WordPress is definitely the way to go. If you are building something with a lot more custom content types, this can often be done more easily in Joomla.
  • Joomla vs. Drupal. Which is better? Again — that depends on what you are trying to accomplish. Joomla is more popular. If you need a lot of custom content types and are trying to do something complex but relatively common, Joomla is probably a good choice. If you are doing something truly novel, with a lot of custom functionality and logic, Drupal might be a better way to go.
  • Joomla, Drupal, WordPress. How do I decide? Most of the applications that can be built on one platform could be built on any of them. In some cases, there is a specific reason to use one platform or another. For example, if you are just setting up a blog and nothing else, you should use WordPress. Or if you need the features built-in to a specific distribution of Drupal, like CiviCRM. However, if you are not a developer and you need something new built from scratch, it is much better to find a developer you like and trust, and then let them select a platform based on their own comfort level and the needs of the specific project.

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