Joomla! CMS has recently released an update to it's heavy-weight CMS, and there is much debate as to which platform is the safest to develop with. 

For the last few years Joomla 1.5 has been a solid option, with loads of third-party plugins, components and modules to get Joomla to work beyond it's standard capabilities. And then in 2010 the developers of Joomla released version 1.6. This was a large-scale upgrade and much of the core functions and code was revamped. The result is a slick, well-refined CMS with power to boot.

The developers behind this popular CMS have implemented a 6-month release cycle, so every six months we will be hit with a new upgrade. While this sounds daunting, it is in the best interests of constantly changing technologies and website security. That is, of course, if our third-party developers can keep up.

Joomla! 1.7 has been released for several months now, and Joomla 1.6 reaches it's theoretical 'end of life' this month, so it pays to consider an upgrade. More importantly though, we should all look to upgrade our Joomla 1.5 systems to at least 1.6 as it introduces much-needed core upgrades and a future-compatible system.

We have recently started a large-scale project in Joomla 1.7 and have been very impressed with the changes made. From multi-tiered categories and module activation within articles to interface design and a more considered menu structure, 1.7 is the way of the future.

With this new project, we also needed to develop for mobile platforms such as the iPad and iPhone, as well as the multitude of Android devices. With Joomla 1.5 all layouts were in a table structure which severely limited mobile layouts and general future compatibility. Introduced in 1.7, Joomla now uses HTML layouts allowing us to develop templates and websites with whatever structure we wish – heck, we can even develop an entire website in HTML5!

Some differences between Joomla! 1.5 and 1.7

Joomla! 1.5:

  • Only the three-level content management: Sections/ Categories/ Articles.
  • More Extensions and Template.
  • Has been widely used. 
  • Can Upgrade to 1.7 or newer. 

Joomla! 1.7:

  • Multi-level content management: Categories level 1 (Parent)/ Categories level 2 (Sub)/ Categories level 3 (Sub)/ Categories level xxx/ Articles.
  • Still less extensions and Template.
  • No or very difficult to downgrade to 1.5.
  • More powerful ACL (Access Control List).
  • Many new features.

Which versions are covered?

There are two versions in common use:

  • Version 1.5 is well established and widely used, and will be supported till January 2012.
  • Version 1.6 was released January 2011 and is not supported anymore.
  • Version 1.7 was released July 2011.

There are many similarities between the versions but they are presented separately to newcomers to Joomla! in order to use 'hands-on' material..

If you are a new userwe recommend that you use the Joomla1.7 or the latest stable version.