This is a series of post starting here, in which I look at different CMS installations and despair.

Joomla! is the offshoot of Mambo. I’ve heard a lot of good from both. So I actually started looking at, and installing, Mambo.  But after surfing round for an hour or so, looking for documentation on multilingual content (mambelfish? god preserve me) and installing Mambo and playing around a bit, I found this: Joom!Fish. This is the Joomla version of the Mambelfish and lo! They distribute a package with Joomla pre-bundled with Joom!Fish. That was enough to tip me over the edge and install Joomla instead.

The Good

  • Very good installation routine. Easy does it. Should be installable anywhere.
  • Tons of extension and themes.
  • Integrated search engine: we like!

The Semi-Good

  • An attractive admin interface, but… Oh, so cluttered. They’ve done their best to clean it up but the navigation isn’t 100% and now and then leaves you waiving your hand for help, not knowing where to go for a particular task.
  • Multilingual content. The upside of it is that… it is there and works. And you can translate anything in the entire system. But the process stinks and the inline editing is confusing. When you create a page, you create a “default” page which you can then translate to different languages and this is the page he inline editing works on. You would have thought that, had you selected Swedish, and been looking at the Swedish translation of the pages, the inline editing would have edited… The swedish page! But no, it doesn’t. So inline editing is off. It also makes me wonder, what is this “default” language they seem o think I’m using? Esperanto?
  • User group system. Not very well documented nor very flexible.

The Bad

  • Cluttered PHP and cluttered GUI makes for confusion. Took me hours to understand and set up a small test site in two languages.
  • Translation doesn’t always mean that the different languages will have the same page/site layout. For example, the festival I will implement the system for usually have extra pages for foreign visitors about ticket ordering, traveling etc. This seems only semi-supported (read: undocumented and bad).
  • Editing multilingual pages is just to hard.  The pages themselves are ok but the rest! Menu items and what not. I can see support issues coming my why should we go with this.

The installation, the extensions and the themes saves Joomla!. It is not a bad package, and for a single language site I would probably use it. As it is, it is still not out of the running, I’ll keep it installed if nothing else and better comes along.