From Joomla to WordPress



This is a real quick rant. I run this site on WordPress. I chose it because I’d been doing a lot of sites in Joomla and I was ready for something different.

Besides, after hearing all the time about how great WordPress is and how much Joomla sucks I just had to give it a go.

I have to say, I’m just not seeing it.

For all the elegant features of WordPress that are pretty cool, there’s a couple of huge mind-blowing screw-ups that I really can’t fathom.

I tried to reconcile this to “of course coming from Joomla things are going to be a bit more difficult”, but no. I just wasted almost an entire day trying to add dropdowns to my main menu. Sorry, that is unforgiveable.

Now, Joomla and WordPress are both in the same boat here. Neither one has dropdowns out of the box, but damn, it sure is easy to add dropdown menus in Joomla. All I have to do is add SWMenuPro (or it’s free version if you only need one menu) and I can get a whole bunch of different types of dropdowns.

All without writing a line of code.

Now, coding is not a big deal to me, but I do appreciate it if something is so well done that I don’t have to monkey with it.

It really surprised me the amount of coding that is necessary with WordPress. You always have to add something here or there to the functions file, or to the sidebar file.

Oh yeah, have you tried adding another sidebar in WordPress? This should be a single click operation in the GUI, but it actually requires digging around in several separate files. Sheesh!

But even that’s easier than adding dropdowns in WordPress. It’s pretty shameful.

After an unfortunate amount of digging through the WP Extend site, I found a plugin called JQuery Drop Down Menu.

This is the best of the bunch if you don’t want to end up rooting through a bunch of your template files. Yeah it’s not pure css, but whatever. After I wasted all day on this stuff I was happy to find it.

You STILL have to add code yourself to the header.php file but at least it’s only one line. Unfortunately I discovered this plugin interferes with my slider module at the top of the site, but I think I can fix it.

I really shouldn’t have to be doing this given that WordPress is supposed to be the be-all-end-all blogging/cms platform. This is supposed to be the one that any Joe Shmoe off the street can use without knowing any code.

Not really, Joe.

Oh, and let me say, whoever designed the default WP text editor so that I can’t easily change the text size is way out of order.

I tried installing a couple of other editors, none of which worked. Come on, WordPress! Whoever is responsible for these things should really take a look at JCE for Joomla. It’s the very first extension I install on Joomla. That is the way you make an editor.

Also, WordPress really screws up between the visual and HTML view. Sometimes I can’t add the things I want to the code because the editor refuses to keep them. They get stripped out going back and forth. Very stupid and frustrating.

I’m on the lookout for another content management system to get into. I’m a bit bored with Joomla, and not happy about their progress with 1.6, but WordPress is definitely not going to be my next go-to cms.

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10 thoughts on “From Joomla to WordPress

  1. Howdy John,

    I too have switched some of my sites from Joomla! to WordPress, but I have to say, that I am mostly impressed, especially with 3.0 and up. To address a couple of your points:

    DD menus – as you say, neither have them OOTB, but to say the Joe Schmoe can get SWMenuFree installed, configured and correctly implemented easily, well, I have answered more than a few posts on the J! forum that run contrary to that assumption :) I will agree that third party plugins to do the same in WP require digging into the code, but I get around that by using themes I build myself with Artisteer :) … now THAT is easy and I have a few non-computer literate clients that can vouch for that :)

    Adding a sidebar – hmm, not sure that’s a piece of cake in J! either. One will definitely have to do some coding for that. That is, if we are talking the same thing. Adding a sidebar, in my understanding, would be taking your theme from 2 columns to 3 columns; not easy in either. However, it is a piece of cake using Artisteer :) (can you tell I really like this app?) 4 mouse clicks and you’ve got it :)

    The editor – personally, I have not experience code stripping on save in the HTML view. However, a quick search through the J! forum will return 100’s of posts complaining of this with the default J! editor after 1.5.14 I believe it was. Yes, JCE is awesome and the very first extension that I install. As for easily changing the text size, I find this a benefit, not a bug :) Sure helps keep the site looking consistent :) And besides, I rarely create posts directly in the editor; I prefer using Windows Live Writer as I often work where I can’t be online (in the park by the river :)

    One this I really like that I wish J! would incorporate is the built-in update notification and application not only for the core app but plugins as well. Sure saves a lot of time.

    Yes, I miss some the the readily available bells and whistles the J! extensions have to offer, but what I have found by going to WP, is that it sort of has forced me to concentrate on what really matters: the content! :)


  2. Hey Lyle,

    Thanks for commenting!:) I think WordPress, especially 3.0 and up, is very elegant, more so than Joomla, but still lacking in some surprising ways.

    I’ve been able to set up clients with SWMenuFree/Pro (normally I install it myself while developing), and they simply go through the menus and change styles and do whatever they want with it. Many of them enjoy trying the different types just to see what they do. They know they can just switch back if they don’t like it. No code, no muss.

    I haven’t found one that offers the same range of styles/features on WP. You’d have to know enough Javascript or CSS to change the styles yourself, or know enough to get a script from somewhere and shoehorn it into WordPress.

    Sure, with anything there’s a bit of a learning curve, but far, far less with SWMenu than what I went through trying to do it here. I was new to SWmenu at some point, too, and it wasn’t as big of a hassle as this, not by a long-shot. I don’t think many of my clients would like to have to add code to the header.php file themselves.

    I think you’ve got me wrong on the sidebar. I mean in your WordPress backend where you click on “Widgets” and you’ve got “Sidebar 1” on the right. Well, how do you get “Sidebar 2”? It AIN’T easy and requires code wrangling. I’m not talking about adding another column, but adding “Sidebar 2” under “Sidebar 1”.

    In Joomla I can just keep adding modules and I can put them wherever I want (admittedly, there must be a position for it in the index.php file). This way I can have some items not show up or have them appear wherever I want, instead of all or nothing like WordPress (well I could wrangle with the page templates if I wanted but it should be easier).

    Also, in Joomla it is extremely easy to change your template from 2 to 3 or even 1 column. You’ll find that most Joomla templates automatically adapt if you remove all items from the left or right positions. The center component will fill up the space (in most well made templates).

    If I have a two column template, using the left position and the center component, whenever I add anything to the right, it automagically becomes a 3-column layout. Very easy. Again, this is in well-made templates. But the user doesn’t have to worry about this. No coding required.

    I’ve never used Artisteer, I don’t have much use for it, but I know others who swear by it and create some awesome sites. They obviously are able to fill a demand so if people can get what they want out of it, I’m all for it. :)

    Oh yeah, the WP Editor really does suck. I expect a lot of control over things, and when I don’t get it that’s when I start getting antsy. I’ve found quite a few people complaining about it in my searches, too. So Joomla is not alone in that category. WP needs to really get their editor up to snuff, and Joomla desperately needs to license JCE and get that thing integrated into the core.

    I wholeheartedly agree about the update notifications. I mentioned in my Top 10 Joomla Extensions post that Joomla needed to get the Update Manager extension integrated.

    When I downloaded the 1.6 beta, I was very disappointed that neither JCE or Update Manager were integrated. What a missed opportunity! And you’re right they need to keep up on those plugins, too. It’s easy to let those fall behind in Joomla.

    I’m glad I’ve learned a lot about WordPress now, but I don’t think I’d do another site for myself in WP. Probably only for clients. I’m going to move on to Drupal next just so I can get up to speed in the big three.

    Wow, this was a long comment, I should have just wrote another post. See ya!

  3. Regarding the sidebar thing; I do believe we have a terminology mis-communication :) A Sidebar in WP equates to a Left or Right Column Position in J!, and one cannot create a “new” column in J! from the admin :) Yes I know that if there are no modules assigned to a left or right column that they will collapse and allow the content to expand into this now unused area and one will end up with a pseudo 1 or 2 or 3 column display, depending upon these settings. However, the WP themes I have tried are for the most part “non-collapsible, that is, if you place an empty text area widget into them, the content area will not expand into these areas like they do in J! But there is a plugin called Custom Widgets that lets you assign widgets to various pages, posts, categories, etc. just as one can in J! in the Module Manager for each module’s menu assignment. So to answer your question on how to add another sidebar in WP, you have to either use a them that has the second one, do it yourself in code or as I do, use Artisteer and create one with 2 sidebars :) Again, this is not doable in the J! admin. If you are using a template that has only 2 columns, for example a left column and the content column, one cannot create a third, right column from within the J! admin. This is what you would be alluding to by wanting to create a second sidebar in WP :)

    As for menus, I NEVER let my clients play with these! :) … other than to maybe add/edit items or the menu text :)

    Same sort of idea with the editor. There are the styles that are defined by the theme’s CSS and if one as the full formatting “load”, you KNOW what a mess a client can make! :) That is why there is CSS :) To give the site a consistent look. One can always override via the HTML if you really want to. But all of that is a matter of personal preference; I have one client that I really wish was using the editor in WP instead of TinyMCE in his J! site … bold this, underline that, change font size for this line …looks like .. well, you know :) I haven’t tried any of the editor plugins yet because as I mentioned, I generally use WLW to create my content offline.

    But there are a couple other reasons why I “seem to be jumping ship”. One is install size which I believe impacts site performance. On the same hosting account, my WP sites are noticeably faster than my J! sites (of similar complexity, images, etc.) The following are default installs of J! and WP on my localhost (XAMPP) as per Windows Explorer’s Properties:
    Joomla! 1.5.20
    Size: 14.9 MB (15,724,469 bytes)
    Size on disk: 27.4 MB (28,790,784 bytes)
    Contains: 4,298 Files, 821 Folders

    WordPress 3.0.1
    Size: 7.92 MB (8,314,415 bytes)
    Size on disk: 9.72 MB (10,199,040 bytes)
    Contains: 756 Files, 79 Folders

    Quite a difference, especially the file count. Yes, J! has OOTB a few more goodies than WP and that will account for some of the difference.

    The other reason, and one that I can only say is anecdotal in my own experience, is that any site that I have either convert to WP from J! or started from scratch in WP, seems to get “found faster and better” by Google; seems the Big G likes WP better :) Again, I cannot quantify this, but just by how fast these sites seem to get indexed as opposed to ones in J!, even with XMAP installed and the sitemap submitted.

    We could go on and on, but just thought that I should mention these few items :)

  4. You know, I agree that you are right regarding the sidebar terminology. I think in the WP world it would be more appropriate to say I want to add another WIDGET block or something similar, that would be added VERTICALLY above or below my current widget area.

    When I Google “adding another sidebar in WordPress” (or a similar term), I get people trying to do what you are talking about, namely adding another column to their template. Not at all what I’m referring to.

    This still doesn’t change the fact that it takes code wrangling to accomplish adding another widget block, whereas in Joomla I can add modules and assign them to different pages in the GUI.

    To do this in WP I would need to create another page template. Not very convenient. So with that said I’m going to check out that Custom Widgets, that could be just what I’m looking for. Thanks!

    But back to the WP Editor. It zapped me again tonight. Adding in my Aweber form the way I want is not possible, since it keeps deleting my [style] tags when I save. To be fair, this happens in Joomla sometimes, too, but for some reason nowhere near as frequently.

    I know what you mean about trying to keep things consistent, but that should be my choice whether or not to turn off buttons or have them available. I’m never going to be happy when I don’t have control/access that I feel I should have. That’s why WP is not going to become my next go-to CMS.

    Frankly, when I do a website for a client, they paid for it, so they get the keys to the kingdom when I’m done. I create an admin account for them and after my initial training, they are off to the races.

    If they mess something up, they can contact me and it’s a billable event. It’s usually not very bad, though. WP could REALLY benefit from taking a good hard look at JCE. It’s pure genius. All the control you want. They outshined WP in my opinion.

    I wanted to give WP a try because of all the hype. There are some truly elegant things about it, but there are some shocking instances of rough edges and unnecessary coding that fly in the face of the whole “its just so easy” WP mantra I hear all the time.

    I’m glad I got my feet wet in it, and I’ll probably design some templates at some point, but I think I’m going to move on to Drupal so I can get the big three under my belt, then branch out from there in search of the elusive “perfect” CMS.

  5. Thank you for your post. I’m about to put my site on a WP platform and it’s good to know what bugs might occur. Thanks for your very interesting rant. Rants are more interesting than just pontificating.

  6. @Calla, just let me know if you need any help. I’m not quite as good yet with WordPress as I am with Joomla, but I’ll help you out if I can.

    Also, check out this guy for “Awesome WordPress Tips and Tricks” (not my words but they happen to be true):

  7. Haha, woops! I should have read this post before I left a comment on your other one…..I think this answers my question! :)

    I guess it must come down to personal preferences – I dont mind (actually I really like) coding things by hand, so that doesnt bother me about WordPress. Joomla was hard for me to figure out, I never really felt comfortable with it.

    To each his own I guess! :)

  8. Hey Libby,

    LOL no problem. I actually like digging into the code myself, it’s just that when WordPress is billed as being so easy I don’t expect to have to do it for what should be a simple operation.

    Joomla definitely has it’s issues though, as I mentioned in some of my other articles…

    1. Hey Andrew, I’ve been using it for clients, but not for any of my own stuff for a while now.

      I’m going to give Joomla 1.7 a spin and see how that goes, though!

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