Whither Thou Goest Joomla!

Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Sailor, Rich Man, Poor Man, Beggar Man, Thief

In terms of Internet time, one can consider Joomla! as a young adult who is trying to figure out what he/she wants to do with the rest of their life and is having an identity crisis in the process.  The Joomla project on one hand wants to remain true to its Mission, Vision & Values.  On the other, it is currently engaging a professional PR Firm to increase it’s brand recognition. 

What Joomla! does not have that a number of other OSS projects do have is one or more commercial entities that provide them with “free” marketing and PR services.  Acquia, Automattic, redhat, Canonical (Ubuntu), Oracle (OpenOffice) come to mind here.

Now that I’ve stated the above, some of you will proceed directly to the comments form and delineate the many evils of commercial entities and the OSS projects that are “conspiring” with them.  Some will suffer from “Twitter Deprivation” and move on.  Others, thinking “What the hell is this idiot talking about?” will read on out of pure curiosity.  And some will simply read on with no malice aforethought!

Now I do not claim to be an expert regarding organizational models adopted by the various OSS projects, or any marketing and PR on their behalf (although I did suffer though a Marketing 101 course many years ago…I needed 3 credit-hours and the class schedule met my needs!).

What I do know is from the outside looking in and not having a clue about the inner workings of the Joomla Leadership Team (LT), Community Oversight Committee (CoC),  and Open Source Matters, Inc. (OSM), my perception is that in the race to capture the hearts and minds of the corporate and government worlds, Joomla is losing, or may have already lost. 

Now many may say that the Joomla project is OSS and, as such, they are not competing with their OSS brethren in this or any other arena.  And that may well be true.  But one can also say that neither are the Drupal and Wordpress projects.  The difference is that their commercial champions are.

To date, and absent any household-name, deep pocket benefactors, Joomla has had astounding success.  It has spawned thousands of small businesses who have in turn spawned many thousands of sites for small and medium businesses around the globe.  If one believes in statistics,  only Wordpress surpasses Joomla in the number of installed sites.  And this statistic is probably biased, as Wordpress has much more usage as a blogging engine rather than as a CMS.

In the meantime, OSS associated with strong commercial brand names have made impressive inroads into the corporate/government markets.  An example here is the use of Drupal as the platform for Whitehouse.gov and other US Government sites.  Does this mean Drupal is “better” than Joomla?  Not really, it just means the winning commercial bidder for the Whitehouse.gov contract used Drupal to fulfill the Government’s Request for Proposal (RFP) requirements for CMS features and capabilities. 

In conclusion, my opinion…

I am not by any means qualified to speak for the Joomla leadership and really do not care to do battle with the hordes over the leadership, organization or future direction of the Joomla project.  But what I do know is that Joomla really needs to decide what it wants to be as a grown-up and share this with the community.  And the project is big-time swimming upstream if its real intent is to compete with the commercial entities that are purveyors of Joomla’s OSS brethren.

Disclaimer: I have no financial or other interests in any of the open source or commercial entities referenced in this tome.  And I long ago gave up on software development as a source of income.