Joomla Terms and Concepts

Before you can understand how to operate Joomla!, allow me to explain the basic principles that underlie the Joomla! Content Management System. Content Management System (CMS) contains the terms content and management (administration) that imprecisely refer only to a system that administers content. Such a system could be a board and a piece of chalk (menu or school chalkboard), or it could be something like Wikipedia (the free online encyclopedia at, or an online auction house such as eBay ( In all these cases, content is administered; at times even for a large number of participants as in the case of the last two examples. These participants play a major role with the CMS, on one hand as the administrators, and on the other hand as users.

In general, the term content management is used in connection with web pages that can be maintained by a browser. This doesn't necessarily make the definition any easier. Apart from CMSs there are Enterprise Resource Planning Systems (ERP, administration of corporate data), Customer Relationship Management Systems (CRM, care of customer contacts), Document Management Systems (DMS, administration of documents), Human Resource Management Systems (HRM, administration of staffing), and many others. An operating system such as Windows or Linux also administers content.

Joomla! belongs to the category of Web Content Management Systems (WCMS), since it exclusively administers content on a web server. It is difficult to define the term CMS because of its encompassing nature and variety of functions. Lately ECMS has established itself as the nickname for Enterprise Content Management Systems. The other systems listed above are subsets of ECMS. Since these terms are still relatively new in the enterprise world, these systems will surely be developed even further. In principle, however, there will always be an integration system that tries to interconnect all these systems.

A Quick Glance into History
While Sun Microsystems maintained in the nineties that "the Network is the computer", Microsoft was not going to rest until a Windows computer sat on every desk. The computer that Microsoft was concerned with was a mixture of data files and binary executable files. Files with executable binary contents are called programs and were bought and installed by customers to manipulate data. Microsoft Office was the winner in most of the offices around the world. The computer that Sun was working with was a cheap, dumb terminal with a screen, a keyboard, a mouse, and access to the Internet. The programs and data were not stored on this computer, but somewhere on the net.

The mine philosophy governed Microsoft's practices whereas the our philosophy was adopted by Sun. The motivation for these philosophies was not for pure humanitarian reasons, but for economic interest. Primarily, Microsoft sold software for PCs to the consumer market; Sun, on the other hand, sold server hardware and programs to the enterprise market.

The Internet, invented in the sixties, spread like an explosion in the mid-nineties. Among other things, HyperText Markup Language (HTML)—the language used to write web pages—and the development of web servers and web clients (browsers) helped its expansion. The Internet itself was a set of rules that could be understood by different devices and was developed so skillfully that it covered the entire planet in almost no time.

An individual without an e-mail address could no longer be reached and a company without a website was not only old-fashioned, but didn't exist in the eyes of many customers. The whole world swarmed to the Internet within a short time to become a part of it. Movies like The Matrix ( became huge hits and 1984 (, a book by George Orwell, was forgotten.

New net citizens came from the mine world on one hand and from the our world on the other hand. Those who were used to buying programs bought HTML editors and created Internet pages with them. The others preferred to write their own HTML code with any text editor they had on hand. And the web agency, where one could order a homepage, was born.

Both groups faced the problem that HTML pages were static. To change the contents of the page, it first had to be modified on a PC and then copied to the server. This was not only awkward and expensive, but also made web presences like eBay or Amazon ( impossible. Both groups found more or less good solutions for this problem. The mine faction developed fast binary programs with which one could produce HTML pages and load them via automated procedures onto the server. Interactive elements such as visitor counters, among others, were built into such pages.

The our faction discovered Java applets, and with them, the capability of writing a program that resided centrally on a server, which was operated via a browser. Entire business ideas were based on this solution—like online booking and flight reservation concepts. Both groups tried to develop market share in different ways.

The result was quite a stable market for both, in which passionate battles over the correct
operating system (Windows, Linux, or Mac OS X) constantly drove the version numbers higher and higher. Customers got used to the fact that the whole thing wasn't that easy.

There is always a third option in these situations. As in our case, it was the emergence of
open-source scripting languages like PHP ( Rasmus Lerdorf had the goal of offering interactive elements on his homepage, and with that a new programming language was born. From the outset, PHP was optimized in a perfect cooperation with the MySQL database, which also worked on the GNU/GPL platform (

Fortunately, on the server there was a Linux operating system and an Apache web server that offered the necessary infrastructure. Display medium at the client side was the browser, which was certainly available. Soon LAMP (Linux, Apache, MySQL, and PHP) became synonymous with database-supported, interactive presence on the Internet.
The most diverse systems like forums, communities, online shops, voting pages, and similar things that made it possible to organize contents with the help of a browser were developed in an enthusiastic creative rush.

After 'difficult' things such as Linux and Apache, 'soft' products were developed. The nineties were nearing their end; the Internet share bubble burst and suddenly the trend was to build unmitigated classical business models with unmitigated classical methods.
Whenever the economy isn't doing well, costs are scrutinized and the possibility of lowering costs is contemplated. There are now, as there were earlier, numerous possibilities. PHP applications always had distribution numbers in the millions. Only the phpBB ( and phpMyAdmin ( projects are mentioned here as examples.

One was developed into the quasi-standard for forum software, the other one into the standard for manipulating MySQL databases via web interfaces. The source code of the PHP language and that of applications were improved because they had an enormous number of users and developers.

The more open a project was, the more successful it became. Individual gurus were able to save enterprises immense costs in the shortest time. Static HTML pages were considered old and expensive and were overhauled. They had to be dynamic! Developers have been working in this environment for a few years now. Linux, Apache, MySQL, and PHP are readily accepted in industry. The search for professionally usable PHP applications had begun.

With this search, one looks for:
  • A simple installation process
  • Easy serviceability of the source code
  • Security of the source code
  • User-friendliness
  • Easy expandability

The special advantage of PHP applications is the independence from hardware and operating system. LAMP also exists as WAMP (Windows, Apache, MySQL, and PHP) for Windows, MAMP (Mac, Apache, MySQL, and PHP) for Apple, and for numerous other platforms. And now finally Joomla! comes into the fray.

Source : Building Website with Joomla by Hagen Graf ( PACKT Publishing)

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