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Programming IT Technology

Open Source Usability — Joomla! Vs. WordPress 240

Posted by kdawson
from the apples-and-orange-trees dept.
An anonymous reader writes "PlayingWithWire profiles two open source tools for Web development, comparing Joomla! and WordPress through the lens of usability. The article has apparently upset a few people at the Joomla! forum, but it does bring up a good point. Many open source projects are developed by engineers for engineers — should they focus more on usability? PlayingWithWire makes a bold analogy: 'If Joomla! is Linux, then WordPress is Mac OS X. WordPress might offer only 90% of the features of Joomla!, but in most cases WordPress is both easier to use and faster to get up and running.'" The article repeatedly stresses that blogging platform WordPress and CMS harness Joomla! occupy different levels of the content hierarchy. How fair is it to twit Joomla! on usability?
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Open Source Usability — Joomla! Vs. WordPress

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  • by Einmaliger (1052420) on Tuesday March 03, 2009 @06:34AM (#27049317)
    He is comparing the usability of the two very different applications for a quite limited scenario, namely setting up very simple web sites with only a few static pages. For larger projects Wordpress simply won't do the job, but in that simple case, I agree that WordPress is a often much better choice. For my personal homepage I tried out lots of Open Source CMS, but finally got stuck with WordPress + some plugins. It does a surprisingly good job as CMS, but I would not recommend it for - say - my company's website.
  • by Chrisq (894406) on Tuesday March 03, 2009 @06:43AM (#27049355)
    Yes, They were about as upset as I would be if someone compared my minivan to a Ferrari and came to the conclusion that the Ferrari was faster.

    Like one of the commenters said, it is comparing apples with oranges - Wordpress is for blogging, so blogs are easier to produce. Joomla if a general CMS system, capable of more, but slightly harder to use if you just want a blog.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 03, 2009 @06:46AM (#27049373)

    Yeah and no mention of the simple options like:
    www.cmsmadesimple.org

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 03, 2009 @06:57AM (#27049423)

    Software is almost always a way to do something we would otherwise be able to do, but with much more effort. In that light, usability is the whole purpose of software.

  • Re:not a question (Score:5, Interesting)

    by moosesocks (264553) on Tuesday March 03, 2009 @07:13AM (#27049479) Homepage

    Errr... yes?

    How can you possibly answer "no" to that question? Do you want your stuff actually being, you know, used by people? There's a reason it's called "usability" and not bumblebee.

    Go read up on the arguments against the GoboLinux [wikipedia.org] filesystem structure. (These Ubuntu folks have a bunch [ubuntu.com]). There are some fairly passioned "screw the n00bs" rants out there. Does anybody honestly think that the traditional Unix filesystem heirarchy makes an ounce of sense in 2009?

    Both vi and EMACS seem to have taken the "fuck the users" approach to heart. I suppose I might be of the wrong mindset to operate either application, though the developers could have at the very least taken the time to provide a decent set of documentation for their astonishingly-complex applications.

  • by Einmaliger (1052420) on Tuesday March 03, 2009 @07:17AM (#27049495)

    you should use drupal over joomla for your companys website :)

    Actually I will recommend SilverStripe. I just love its MVC framework. It feels right from a developer's pov.

  • Joomla is evil. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Swampash (1131503) on Tuesday March 03, 2009 @07:45AM (#27049609)

    I have administered (and currently administer) a number of sites for various clients across a wide range of publishing systems - flat html, php, various CMSes running on Linux, UNIX, and Windows servers.

    I cannot find the words to convey the depth of the hatred and loathing I feel for Joomla. It embodies the worst of Open Source - as if it were written by a million angsty teenagers suffering from ADHD, with duplicated functionality across a hundred different modules, little or no sensible documentation, and the usability issues...! Most CMSes try and at least look like some thought has been given to how people in the real world will use them. Joomla feels and behaves like it was designed to be DELIBERATELY confusing, as if the author of any given module was sneering at his imaginary end user, thinking "it's perfectly obvious to ME what to do here, fuck you if you can't work it out, n00b".

    Gah! Just thinking about Joomla makes me want to go and wash my hands.

  • by KylePflug (898555) on Tuesday March 03, 2009 @08:17AM (#27049747) Homepage

    Blind, uninformed apple criticism gets modded troll. The Mac community isn't all sycophants and dummies any more than the Linux community is all revolutionary closeted sociophobes. Guess what? I have a laptop running Linux, a desktop dualbooting Windows and Linux, and a MacBook running OSX with Windows 7 and XP in VMs.

    It's not just that different software appeals to different people, though that's part of it. Different software has different purposes. I've tried at length, and Linux (or OSX, for that matter) don't offer anything comparing to the ease-of-use and efficiency of running a tablet PC in Vista with OneNote for academic settings. I've set it up in Linux, screwed with input drivers for weeks on end, only to have a hacked, barely workable solution. In Windows, I had excellent handwriting recognition and a superb interface with good features. Yeah, Windows is a fundamentally flawed OS - but they all are. Maybe Windows more than the others, but it was what I needed for that purpose.

    Macs are similarly useful in the academic community, as well as for designers and editors. Yes, Linux is a great OS, but it simply doesn't have photoshop or anything that compares to it. GIMP is a clumsy hack and is frankly like Paint in comparison. Gnome, KDE and Explorer have nothing on the frankly revolutionary changes Mac has seamlessly implemented in the last few years. There are a lot of poorly implemented whizbang features like Time Machine's GUI or Safari 4's Top Pages, but there are also features like Spotlight, Expose, the new stacks in the Dock, and Quick Look, none of which the competition can approach with a ten foot pole.

    Call me back when Linux works with my hardware out of the box (and don't give me any of the normal bullshit; I've tried it on five laptops and two desktops in the last couple years, most of those very recently, and it never Just Works; I can tinker, but I shouldn't be expected to and certainly won't be won as an apostle if I need to). Call me back when Linux or Windows have system-wide drag-and-drop that lets me drag an image off a webpage or into an chat window, or from my desktop into the Mail icon to start a new mail with an attachment, or from an email to a filesystem icon which pops open, lets me browse my hard drive by hovering and dropping where I want, and then goes away.

    I'm the first person to advocate open source, the last person to advocate Windows, and no stranger to alternative operating systems. But the ridiculous closedmindedness of the FOSS community is exactly why it is so curmudgeonly and slow when it comes to any widespread adoption. Nobody cares what a bunch of zealots have to say because their zealousy discredits them from the offset. The new Macs are all remarkably well-constructed, fast machines with good features and a superior operating system for the vast majority of end-user and even power-user purposes. If you need more, buy another computer or install another operating system, I won't complain. But flatly decrying the entire platform is stupid. Stupid, stupid, stupid.

  • Re:Joomla is evil. (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 03, 2009 @08:19AM (#27049757)

    It's funny how people are different. I among many solution use Joomla! very often and for me it gets the job done very quickly. I do agree that usability and ways things have to be done sometimes could be improved, but I am overall very happy with the project. One thing I hate about WP is that they have security updates every week and therefore "maintenance" is annoying in that regard. I find it strange people don't mention it actually.

  • by Hal_Porter (817932) on Tuesday March 03, 2009 @08:23AM (#27049771)

    I like linux because it gives me flexibility. You like MacOS X because it is easy to use. I like Wordpress because it is simple. You like Joomla because it is adaptable.

    Fair enough, but how do you explain all the Macbooks visible at this Drupal Conference [nytimes.com]? :-)

    From your link

    http://www.nytimes.com/2009/03/02/nyregion/02open.html?ref=technology [nytimes.com]

    There were people who were proud to call themselves tech geeks and a few who admitted being near-Luddites, and there was at least one person who called herself a radical technologist. They joined book publishers, librarians and computer consultants, some of whom had come from as far as Ireland and Brazil, at the Polytechnic Institute of New York University in Downtown Brooklyn on Saturday for something akin to a happening for the Internet age â" Drupal Camp.

    "Radical technologists" and self proclaimed geeks all gather and socialise. All of whom are very keen to talk eloquently to the NYT and their blogs about what sort of geek they are and (I'm guessing) very few of whom would be happy coding away on their own.

    Does that answer your question?

  • by jrumney (197329) on Tuesday March 03, 2009 @09:01AM (#27049965) Homepage

    Wow, this article is blatantly biased.

    I figured that from the "Wordpress might only offer 90% of the features of Joomla!" quote.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 03, 2009 @09:26AM (#27050129)
    Have you used any adobe programs lately? the UI is an abomination (especially on the Mac!). Check this [tumblr.com] website number sometime. I dropped major cash for Adobe CS3 Master Suite for OS X last year. Major mistake. The UI doesn't look or feel native, is slow, full of quirks, and hard to use.
  • Re:not a question (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Tom (822) on Tuesday March 03, 2009 @12:41PM (#27052455) Homepage Journal

    Does anybody honestly think that the traditional Unix filesystem heirarchy makes an ounce of sense in 2009?

    Actually, yes (mostly).

    Usability does not necessarily mean you have to change the system structure. You can also display it differently. For example, on the low level, OS X knows files and folders, just like every other OS. However, on the higher levels, it will display some folders as if they were applications, and allow you to interact with them as if they were a third kind of filesystem entity that does not actually exist on the lower levels (e.g. double-clicking on a normal folder opens it, double-clicking on a folder with an app inside will launch the app, even though the actual binary is in some sub-folder).

  • Re:not a question (Score:3, Interesting)

    by moosesocks (264553) on Tuesday March 03, 2009 @03:19PM (#27054851) Homepage

    I've seen the EMACS documentation, and would simply like to respectfully disagree.

    Like EMACS itself, it's unnecessarily thorough. The text, IMO is dense, unnecessarily lengthy, and poorly formatted.

    The EMACS docs read like a novel, which is great if you want to sit down for a week, and learn the guts of the program inside-and-out. Unfortunately, this is not how most software documentation is used.

    Most (good) software documentation is briefly glanced at as a quick reference. To make the most of this scenario, it should be terse, adequately indexed, formatted with a decent stylesheet, and hyperlinked where appropriate. I personally feel that the PHP documentation stands out among F/OSS projects as being a particularly good reference source.

  • by plantseedling (1491365) on Tuesday March 03, 2009 @05:24PM (#27056573)

    Usability is certainly undervalued within most Open Source project teams. In fact, its generally hard to find any projects which actually have a dedicated team of members just looking at usability issues.

    There's a bunch of reasons for this oversight - yes, they may be related to the core development teams of projects like Joomla coming from a pretty hardcore coding background... of course rapid development cycles don't help developers feel they have the time to themselves think about usability for too long (or better).

    However, what I think is exciting is how this is all changing from a more grassroots level - as projects like Joomla grow in userbase and functional ability, more people from more diverse backgrounds are twigging onto shortcomings of the software. Those people are also more able than ever before to alter the code in sustainable ways to affect its usability.

    The cited article @ http://www.playingwithwire.com/ [playingwithwire.com] pits Joomla and Wordpress together assuming that Joomla's admin side cannot be changed - from an interface standpoint. This isn't true and I think we'll see some re-workings of the Joomla administrative login become available, perhaps not from the core Joomla team though, soon.

    In fact, with the aim of making using Joomla simpler, we've recently launched 'Seeding' (http://www.plantseedling.com [plantseedling.com]) - a distribution label which has released a pre-packaged and configured Joomla distro that comes loaded with a slightly simpler admin interface.

    Our first release of the Seedling distribution of Joomla [plantseedling.com] wasn't aimed at redesigning the admin work-flow of Joomla but we've laid some groundwork for the next release which will see a complete re-organisation of the control panel and some admin features of Joomla! Stay tuned to our blog @ http://www.plantseedling.com/blog [plantseedling.com]

    Cheers,

    Qasim
    (Principal @designguru.org [designguru.org])

  • by gordguide (307383) on Tuesday March 03, 2009 @11:54PM (#27060503)

    Well, I can see it ruffling a few feathers, but it's hardly news and I can't believe anyone, contributor or user, would seriously contest it. Usability is a problem on Open Source and on Linux. There, I said it.

    Linux is really an ever-evolving work in progress, and it is never "done", and never done in a way that, say, XP or PalmOS don't experience. They pause for a while and let the world catch it's breath, developing as a more holistic whole. New documentation can be written as the next point upgrade is written, and tech blogs can write support as things come up in the user's experience.

    Not so with Linux. Not only does nobody want to do the job in the first place, but nobody can keep up even if they are crazy enough to want to do it. Everything is in a constant state of (mostly useful, mostly working) flux.

    It's much the same for the "usability" issue. To even start exploring usability with an Open Source app is to say it's "almost done", if not "done, period". That's a state that is rare indeed. "Why work on menus when the guts need work and it will all be different in the next release and besides I have this great idea to ... " well, you get the point.

    Linux really needs non-geeks to write and maintain that aspect of it, and it really needs non-geeks to say to developers, "no, that shouldn't be there, it should be here" and "if you do it that way, everyone will be confused" and so on. That kind of feedback should probably be happening in tandem with the underpinnings and code being written and rewritten.

    But, there is no mechanism to pair the unsophisticated user with the code contributor and project manager, and I'm not even sure that if there was, they would still be talking to each other after a few months of collaboration. It definitely would slow things down a bit, and that alone might be enough to kill the idea with the traditional contributors.

    Until then (and I'm betting on that being a word something like "never") Open Source tools will always be geeky and defiantly quirky, which leads to confusion and frustration at least some of the time. I really wish there was a way to change that, because all it really takes is that first 3 months and many people are hooked on Open Source, yes, even as an "only" desktop with no Commercial OS "safety net" to fall back on.

    But it's damn hard to get over the hurdles of that first install, and although everyone loves to help, no-one wants to be a full-time free support person for your buddy. I can imagine wives of Open Source users who happily run OOo on Linux all day going out and buying a copy of Vista right after the divorce.

    What choice do they really have? You can either have decent hand-holding documentation or you have intuitive software. Some dare to try for both. Some Open Source projects seem bent on having neither, and in a very real sense, it may not even be possible because Linux and Open Source never really just sits in one place to begin with.

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