Convenient CMS management with the Joomla! Plesk Toolkit

Almost 6% of all CMS users use Joomla!. Joomla! among the most popular and widely used content management systems worldwide and is of course open source. Plesk launched a tool this year and has already integrated it into its server administration software, with which Joomla! Websites can be managed very conveniently – the Joomla! toolkit.

Host Europe met Jan Löffler, the CTO of Plesk and Viktor Vogel, the lead developer of the Joomla! Toolkits for the conversation in the new Plesk office in the center of Cologne.

The interview with Jan Löffler CTO of Plesk and Viktor Vogel, the lead developer of the Joomla! tool kits

Host Europe: Plesk launched the WordPress Toolkit in 2014. More than 1 million WordPress websites are now managed worldwide using Plesk's WordPress toolkit. In 2018 you are with the Joomla! Toolkit traced. With a share of approx. 5.8%, Joomla is the clear number 2 of the most popular content management systems worldwide, behind WordPress. How did the Joomla! Toolkit accepted in the scene so far?

Jan: ​So far, the Joomla! Toolkit a complete success and is already running on thousands of Plesk servers worldwide. We haven't yet cracked the 1 million mark compared to the WordPress Toolkit, but the number of Joomla! Websites managed by the Joomla! Toolkit are growing at a tremendous rate, with 5,000 new web pages per month.

Host Europe: Which target group is the Joomla! Toolkit primarily: to the web designers or to the web developers?

Jan: ​The funny thing is that our Joomla! Core Contributor Viktor Vogel, who has been involved in the Joomla! scene is active, has always dreamed of creating a really good Joomla! to develop a toolkit. When he told me about his idea, I just said: "Do it" - and the project for the Joomla! tool kit born. In the meantime it has become a team and in the background there are of course many synergies between the Plesk WordPress team and the Joomla! team. Thus, the Joomla! Toolkit created from the point of view of a core developer with an eye on his own needs.

Host Europe: Is that Joomla! Toolkit also suitable for beginners? For example, is there a setup wizard for installation or a tool for migrating an existing Joomla website?

Jan: The primary goal from the outset was to create a tool for everyone, including newcomers. Of course, creating a new Joomla! Website just one click. For hosting companies, there is even a free “Welcome Guide” extension for Plesk that allows you to fully integrate Plesk with Joomla! can align - including a personal greeting and direct creation of the first website. I think we managed that quite well.

Plesk comes with a migration tool for importing websites. However, we have not yet integrated this as deeply as with the WordPress Toolkit. But that is already planned and will come. Of course, the Joomla! Toolkit already stores all Joomla! installations independently and displays them in the Joomla! toolkit on.

Host Europe: How does the target group of the Joomla! Users from the WordPress users? Are there specific differences or special needs?

Victor: Both content management systems are good and important for the open source scene. We are also big fans of open source software and are happy to support the projects! The target audience of Joomla! are more advanced users who delve deeper into the subject and need more flexibility. Sure, with WordPress these days many requirements can be covered via additional plugins, but the core is somewhat limited and Joomla! is more flexible in the implementation with on-board resources. Joomla! offers a modern, robust code base, integrated multilingualism, flexible custom fields, easy extensibility with four different extension types, to name just a few highlights of Joomla! to call. The great strength of WordPress is that it is easy to get started and very user-friendly. Here is Joomla! not that far yet, however the development team is working to fix this drawback in the next big major update (Joomla! 4).

Image - Interview with Viktor Vogel from Plesk

Host Europe: You are continuously developing the toolkits. There are new updates and upgrades practically every month. What are the latest innovations?

Victor: Yes, we always want to offer our customers the best user experience with our extensions, so regular updates with new functionalities and bug fixes are of course part of it. We are currently working on the Joomla! Toolkit intensively on the next major update, which will be released in mid-October. An important point is the topic “Backup & Restore” (backups and restoration of the backup files). This feature is most commonly used from the Joomla! community for the Joomla! Tool kit requested. We have already developed a fully functioning solution that can also be operated completely via the command line. There are two backup types: update and custom. The update type creates backups completely automatically and is activated before each Joomla! Core or extension update triggered by toolkit. This means that the user always has an automatic backup that allows him to restore to the last working state. The custom type is triggered by the user himself and creates a complete backup (files plus database dump) if desired. If necessary, all backups can then be restored with a click on the interface or alternatively with a command line command. Another important highlight is the new and fast interface with preview screenshots of the websites. This is a modern user interface based on ReactJS. Interactive communication improves user-friendliness and significantly simplifies operation. For example, we combine all important elements, buttons and information in a single screen and reload the required information at the user's request. Furthermore, the Joomla! Toolkit translated into all 32 supported Plesk languages, making the toolkit accessible to a wider audience. This is especially important as we have users in 238 countries. To be honest, we still have a long list of requested features that we are continuously implementing. The updates won't be missing!

Host Europe: Does the Joomla! Toolkit a management for Joomla! extensions? What about update management?

Victor: Of course there is an update management. This is one of the great strengths of the Joomla! tool kits. All Joomla! instances on the Plesk server can be updated with just a single click. Both core and extension updates are supported. It was important to us that we did not write our own update mechanism that would be triggered in the event of a change within the Joomla! Update codes could no longer work and would thus cause great frustration among users. We have written a sophisticated Command Line Interface (CLI) to allow direct communication with the Joomla! enable instance. This direct connection allows us to carry out all necessary process steps directly from the Joomla! system, ie we can log into the Joomla! Application and all operations that are also within Joomla! are possible to perform. Extensions are listed in the toolkit and can be updated individually or together. Installing and changing the status of the installed extensions is already possible via the command line interface and will soon be available in the Joomla! Toolkit can be used directly.

Host Europe: What are the top advantages of the Joomla! Toolkits for developers?

Victor: In my opinion, one of the biggest advantages is that the toolkit works within the server boundaries and therefore no external communication is necessary. All commands and calls happen inside the server, which greatly improves privacy and security. Developers can concentrate on their work and do not have to worry about the infrastructure. The toolkit can create a Joomla! Create test instance automatically within seconds. For example, a local database is created and all settings are optimally set so that the website can run immediately. Of course, most professional developers work locally, but once the site is live, maintenance can be done through the toolkit and the developer's client can focus on the content.

Host Europe: What are the top advantages of the Joomla! Toolkits for web designers?

Victor: Here I see the same advantages as already mentioned. When you consider that other management tools usually connect to an external server to exchange information and (sensitive) data, you realize how important the privacy benefit of the Joomla! tool kit is. Personally, I couldn't sleep peacefully if I had such a permanent connection to a third-party server open. We are currently implementing a report function that website designers can use to provide their customers with an overview of all actions taken. We want to simplify the lives of all our customers! Be it a user who takes care of his own website or an agency that is responsible for the websites of their customers. Together with the features already implemented and the backup & restore functionality, a service provider has everything they need to execute a maintenance contract, for example.

Host Europe: What comes next? What are you currently working on?

Victor: Specifically, we are currently working on the implementation of the new graphical interface that the Joomla! Toolkit even more valuable. Before I forget, the new design is only available from Plesk version 17.8. I would therefore like to encourage all Plesk users to use the latest Plesk version in order to get the best possible user experience and maximum performance!

Host Europe: Thank you for the interesting insights into the Joomla! toolkit.

Figure - Interview with Plesk about Joomla!  Toolkit Thank you for the interview and the exciting insights into the toolkit - Interview: Wolf-Dieter Fiege

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