Book Review: Joomla! Social Networking with JomSocial
As mentioned in my last post, I was asked to review the recently published book Joomla! Social Networking with JomSocial from Packt Publishing. This book covers the JomSocial component for the Joomla! content management system (CMS), as well as many additional plugins that can be simultaneously integrated with the component to create a fully-functional social networking website.
Given the vast number of existing networking sites, as well as the overwhelming popularity of some of them such as Facebook and Twitter, initially I was unsure of the value that any new such website might bring, but this book and the example it used make it clear that added value can be gained if a network is built around enough of a niche topic (provided such a topic has a large enough community to drive it).
This text does an excellent job of providing an overview of the JomSocial component, how to integrate it into either a new or existing Joomla! system, and lists a variety of available plugins that can extend the system to include additional features. Meanwhile, some depth is given in various areas, making it possible for even the most novice Joomla! developer (regardless of their technical level) to build and customize their own social network.
Not So Good
As a user experience professional, I noticed that several of the default methods for users (referring to members of the social network, and not site administrators themselves) to add content and applications to their sites via JomSocial seemed to require something of an existing knowledge of the Joomla! way of doing things. In some cases, this is not a very usable system and could be detrimental to a site using JomSocial. Some details were given regarding customization of the interface, so that helps, but a lot of the changes require working directly with code.
Adding to the above, and looking at this book as a professional web developer with a strong technical background, I noticed a number of incorrect or inaccurate assumptions and assertions, particularly surrounding the use and intent of various code samples. While the specific examples included did not have erroneous results, it is possible that such assertions could be taken more generally by the less technically adept and bring about strange or unexpected bugs in the user interface.
At the end of the day, Joomla! Social Networking with JomSocial is a very informative and demonstrative book. For those who have built their websites using the Joomla! CMS, it provides a detailed workflow for implementing social networks. The primary shortcomings of the text stem from respective shortfalls in the JomSocial component, which may well be improved upon in future versions, or with the selection of a different starting template. Joomla! Social Networking with JomSocial is a great point to start from.
Note: Packt Publishing has not compensated me monetarily for writing this review. However, I have received a copy of the text for my time, and to allow me to read the title in order to review it.
posted by Jake Kronika, Owner, Gridline Design at 11:00 AM