Joomla! fans be warned, this may be a somewhat biased review, having been a long time Drupal user. Ok, i guess that pretty much tells you i don’t particularly like Joomla (exclamation mark left out from henceforth for easier reading). I was forced to take on Joomla because of the choice of the template.
What bugs me most about Joomla are doubts on its reliability. I’ve had to restart the http server on 2 occasions (on my own development machine) because the webpage does not load. Sometimes, the home page takes more than 30 seconds to load (not acceptable even if it is due to caching not yet performed). Sometimes, elements on the home page doesn’t show on the first attempt but shows up subsequently. I suspect that the code needs a lot more stabilization and improvement.
The other major drawback i see in Joomla is the rigid structure of how the articles are tied to categories and the menu. I discovered that if an article isn’t tied to a menu item, it doesn’t have a pretty url (unless you buy a Search Engine Friendly extension.. yes, it’s not free). Also, the user voting component can’t be turned off on an article that is not tied to a menu item (probably a bug at this point). I guess this rigid structure stems from assumptions made when Mambo (Joomla’s predecessor, the first CMS i have ever used) was conceived. When everything is hard-wired, it becomes easy, which is one of the reasons for its popularity. However, problems arise when one wants to do customization.
There’s no denying that Joomla has made website publication easy. It works extremely well for launching a corporate website. The configuration screens are as user-friendly as can be. If there’s nothing fanciful in the requirements of a website, then Joomla will probably fit the bill. Otherwise, i’d say, stay away from Joomla (i would imagine that many of the extensions have to run circles around the core system, or maybe this is by design).
As a side note – the Chronoforms component works really well, and all the questions i ever needed to ask to get things working have already been answered in their forum. Highly recommended.