Review: Joomla 1.6 Boosts Business-Friendly Features

The open source content management system has addressed several key weaknesses, especially in rights and permissions management.

Jim Rapoza

January 14, 2011

4 Min Read
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Inside Joomla 1.6: Improved Access Control, Categories

Inside Joomla 1.6: Improved Access Control, Categories

(click image for larger view)
Slideshow: Inside Joomla 1.6: Improved Access Control, Categories

Joomla has long been a popular option as a content management system, and has been used to run many large sites and business portals. Traditionally, Joomla has competed well not only against fellow open source CMS products such as Drupal and Wordpress, but also against commercial content management products.

But, despite this success, Joomla has had a few major weaknesses, especially when it came to user management and access permissions.

However, the recent release of Joomla 1.6 has gone a long way towards addressing some of these issues, and should strengthen the appeal for those businesses and sites looking for a capable and open content management option.

When I first launched the browser-based administration interface for Joomla 1.6, it seemed both familiar and different. The overall layout of the initial screen is basically the same, but has added a few new capabilities and a slightly different look and feel.

From a site organization standpoint, one of the biggest and most welcome changes in Joomla is the removal of the old and limited Sections system (which was essentially limited to two levels of site organization) and the addition of a new Categories system. With the new Categories, I could create unlimited levels of nested content within my sites.

Another major new capability in Joomla 1.6 is the Access Control Level system for managing rights and permissions within the system. This isn't exactly a revolutionary improvement, as many CMS products, especially on the commercial side, have long had very capable access control systems built-in.

But the previous permission system in Joomla was basically unsuitable for most business use and the new system should make Joomla a legitimate option for companies looking for Web content management. With the new system, I could create and manage permission levels for user groups, set default permissions levels, and define specific permission settings for individual areas of content within the site.

Inside Joomla 1.6: Improved Access Control, Categories

Inside Joomla 1.6: Improved Access Control, Categories

(click image for larger view)
Slideshow: Inside Joomla 1.6: Improved Access Control, Categories

Joomla 1.6 has also improved creating and managing content inside the system. One small, but very nice feature, especially for those users who create lots of content, is the addition of a "Save & New" button, which lets a creator save a piece of content and immediately jump to creating new content. A new Flash-based Media Manager also eases the task of uploading and managing images on a site.

On the developer and Webmaster side, Joomla 1.6 also includes several improvements that should ease site management and improve user experiences. The system now makes it possible to better control 404 errors on sites, letting admins send visitors to a valuable content page (such as a site map or a "related content" page) as opposed to just an error page.

Templates and template management have also been updated in Joomla 1.6. One of my favorite new features makes it possible to assign default templates to site managers, useful for controlling how different departments and groups create content.

Extension and plugin management has also seen some improvements, and, as in the case with competing systems such as WordPress, Joomla extension developers will now be able to provide the option to automatically update or notify users of updates of their extensions.

Installation and set-up of Joomla 1.6 is straightforward, however, upgraders should keep in mind that this version has seen some significant changes in the underlying engines. A straight in-place upgrade could be a complex task, especially if you have lots of older, and highly customized, content. Probably the best plan would be to set-up a Joomla 1.6 set-up in parallel with your old site to make sure that everything is working as expected before making the switch.

To try out the new Joomla 1.6, go to


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