Joomla celebrates its 16 years and looks back on the evolution of the CMS market


Over the years, the open source content management system (CMS) Joomla has built its brand on a model-view-controller web application framework that can be used independently, and now holds a 4.9% share of the CMS market.

Joomla relies on its community of developers and volunteers to make the platform accessible globally, to power millions of websites.

With Sion market research signaling that the CMS market is expected to reach $ 123 billion by 2026, Joomla so far dives into the thick of it and shares what’s to follow TechRadar Pro.

Joomla turned 16 a few weeks ago. How did the team celebrate?

This is a really interesting question. For the first ten years, Joomla didn’t even mark its anniversary. Since then, local Joomla user groups have hosted parties and baked cakes. A group in the Netherlands even made sushi with the Joomla logo running through it. This year the global pandemic has practically killed all ideas – maybe next year?

Have you ever imagined that Joomla would still be here / this big 16 years later?

I would be lying if I said I even thought about it at the time. This would imply that we have a plan and a vision for the future. The reality was that this was more of a case of the proverbial itchy scratching.

All good software work begins with scratching a developer’s personal itch. – Eric Raymond, The Cathedral and the Bazaar ”

There is no big global vision or long term roadmap. While there is only one person who needs Joomla and there is someone for whom further development is scratching their itch, Joomla will exist in one form or another. This is probably the difference between Joomla as a 100% volunteer and other projects that have an economic interest.

CMS really is the child star of the late 90s (postnuke, phpnuke, etc.) and yet they are fundamental to how we experience the web in 2021. Why is this the case? Why is this technology so resistant?

It’s funny that you’re talking about nuclear weapons. It was because of nuclear weapons that my interest in CMS began. Nuclear weapons solved the problem of posting your own content on the web, but basically they were about building a one-to-many relationship with the reader. The content was not contained on a nuclear site without reader comments. They did one thing and they did it well.

I was looking for something similar and yet very different, the ability to publish information about the events and activities of a small non-profit organization. The ability to comment on anything was absolutely inappropriate. It didn’t make sense to me to use a nuclear weapon for the site and turn off / remove the commenting feature – my time and effort would be better spent elsewhere.

It seems I was not alone in this thought and the rest is history. Blogging platforms have gradually evolved towards producing more one-way content and user interaction and comments are now the focus of social media. Sites and platforms that once had their own commenting system now work to embed external comments, Facebook, Twitter, and more on their site.

Since the first caveman, humanity has had a desire to share thoughts and information. A website is no different from a rock painting in this aspect. A CMS simply allows you to present your thoughts and opinions without needing to know too much about the underlying technology.

Opinions are great but you better keep them to yourself – Leonardo didn’t put a Mona Lisa comment box, Michelangelo didn’t encourage graffiti on St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome.

So it’s not the technology that is resilient as such, it’s the natural urge of people to control what they present.

How has the CMS market evolved over the past two decades? What are the biggest changes you’ve seen?

Mobile is without a doubt the biggest technological change of the last 20 years. Without it, we wouldn’t have permanent connectivity or computing as a utility.

It is the advancements in mobile technology of the past two decades that have seen the biggest changes for CMS. Initially, you needed to be able to offer an alternative mobile version of your site. Maybe on an m.example.com domain and certainly using smaller media resources, if any.

Then, as the speed of mobile data and mobile processors increased, it was no longer necessary to have a CMS to run two almost separate websites.

Other tendencies have evolved over the years, but the fundamentals of CMS haven’t changed – the ability to quickly, easily, and consistently add content to a website.

What sets Joomla apart from the rest of the competition from a technological and philosophical point of view?

From a technological point of view, Joomla has always been ahead of many others. This is not out of a desire to be the first to offer support to x, but rather through Joomla’s volunteer structure.

Developers want to work on “new stuff” and when everyone is volunteering, no one can get someone to work on something they are not interested in. At the same time, no one wants to reinvent the wheel and simply copy a feature of another CMS.

You always want to work on something new. This is where the challenge comes from and everyone loves the feeling of being successful in creating something new or creating something old but with a new twist using new technology.

I mentioned before that Joomla is 100% voluntary – it is possibly the largest organization of its kind. There is also no business or commercial offering, which is also quite unique.

In the beginning, many software projects of similar size existed in this “hippie” ecosphere, but today Joomla may be one of the last. This is something that I personally will fight very hard to maintain, but every day there are new pressures to change.

Version 4.0 launched on August 17, what new features or improvements accompany it? What direction will Joomla take from now on?

I could list all the tech changes that have been made in J4 under the hood or I could list all the changes that have been made in terms of new features and functionality and you can read about it at www.joomla.org/4. Instead, I would like to focus on a renewed vision by creating “Joomla4all”.

Joomla means “all together”. Since the inception of Joomla, we have been proud to reduce barriers to entry. We’ve removed the cost barrier, we’ve removed the language barrier, and we’ve removed the barriers to change found in a closed source application.

For many years we have talked about responsive website – the ability to use a website on any device. What we haven’t talked about is rresponsible website design – the possibility for everyone to use a website equally. With Joomla 4, a huge effort has been made to improve accessibility. In German they use the word barrier free resulting in barrier-free and it really describes what we have tried to do and what we will continue to do.

In 2021, we all agree that we should not discriminate against someone because of differences in race, religion, sex or sexuality. So why is it okay to discriminate against someone because of a physical difference? It’s not. I also don’t believe anyone reading this thinks it’s OK either.

Joomla 4 will not magically make your website accessible. What Joomla 4 can do, and what we’ve really worked hard on, is make sure everyone is able to build a website with Joomla. Let Joomla not produce inaccessible code and let Joomla give you the tools you need to make sure accessibility is part of the build process and not something done afterwards, if at all.

So, is Joomla 4 barrier-free? Not yet and I don’t believe it can ever be. There will always be more to do, more obstacles that we can remove and new techniques and standards to adopt.

“Doing the right thing. It will make some people happy and surprise others.” – Mark Twain

What is the future of Open Source Matters? Does open source still matter?

Yeah, maybe we got the name wrong – it would have been more accurate to say “Free (dom) Software Matters”. 16 years ago, there was little difference between being “open source” or “free”.

Today, the majority of software for the Internet is “open source” and to a lesser extent “free software”.

16 years ago, adopting a non-proprietary model for software was a philosophical or some will say Politics decision. Today, that has become the default.

What do you think of website builders?

A bicycle is great for taking you to local stores for the newspaper, but if you have to go to the supermarket, it will take some modifications to transport your purchases.

If the store is just a little further away, it’s unlikely that you can even make a big enough change to get you there. The website builders that I have looked at are exactly the same.

I guess you are referring to software and not to the people who create sites for others. They are great at what they do – produce simple brochure websites that look good. If you’re happy with a cookie cutter creation that you can just make and forget, then these are perfect.

But if you still want a little more control and / or customization, this is where you see their limits.


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