Monday, 7 February 2011

Joomla! 1.6: An Attack of Biggerism

I was quite relieved to try out Joomla! 1.6. So it's not just me who releases software before it is ready. In fact the link to download its more stable predecessor, version 1.5, is about 1/10th of the size. So the users are being recruited to do the testing. The danger of this strategy is that they might just move off somewhere else, say Drupal.

On my Linux laptop running Firefox the default installation gave me a 20mm white border at the top of the page. Heaven only knows what for. Below that a cavernous banner that consumes another 40 mm, leaving a thin strip for content at the bottom. In the administrator pages gratuitous icons the size of surfboards float around in the limited space, dwarfing the innumerable input controls, which seem more bewildering than ever before.

Gone is the list of components. Instead you have a melange of components, plugins and modules, which you have to manually filter to get what you want. The old way of doing this, while not ideal, was better and required fewer clicks on the part of the user. What if after filtering I want to just see the modules I installed? More mouse-clicks which destroy my previous configuration. I think they need to take a hard look at how to design a usable interface not go wild on artwork.

Gone, too, are the polished templates of 1.5. Joni Mitchell was right: 'You don't know what you got till it's gone'. In its place a collection of ugly and nearly useless ones. On the banner we read: 'We are volunteers', which sounds more like an apology than as a boast. They are at serious risk of losing their market dominance. My rating so far: 2/10


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