Today I made a foray into the world of newsletters and rss feeds. I have always been somewhat dismayed by Joomla’s (in)ability to perform as a blogging platform. Yes, WordPress has become the de facto standard in blogs but I really see no reason why Joomla can’t achieve some of the basic features that WordPress blogs have such as a listing of the number of articles for each past month or a proper tag cloud. On the flip side, I can’t be bothered to setup WordPress for my blog so I’ll withhold my judgment and make do with Joomla for the time being.

Newsletters – I setup AcaJoom News and Communicator today. I was impressed by both products except that when I sent out test newsletters to myself, they both got blocked by my Shaw email address. This means that hotmail, gmail, and the likes will probably block them too. I’m not sure there’s much I can do about that and am of the mindset that push-marketing is going the way of the dodo. Nonetheless, I’m keeping this feature for now as it does still act as a conduit to a willing audience. After a few hours of playing, I ended up keeping Communicator simply because of how easy it was. AcaJoom is great for anyone that is publishing many newsletters with multiple templates to more than one mailing list. But for me, clean and simple wins. I pasted my templates CSS into the Communicator configuration page and voila, my newsletter matched my site (well at least the fonts and colors did). I clicked on the blog articles that I wanted to include in the newsletter and sent it off. Done deal.

RSS – My recommendation here is to start by making sure you get a great template. Again, I have to mention the team at Rockettheme who not only build great templates but manage and participate in a very active community of support. All I did here was create a custom html module. Then I used the WYSIWYG editor, JCE, to insert my 3D rss image. I linked the image to the RSS feed that is automatically generated courtesy of my Metamorph template and then published the module with the title “Subscribe to Our Feed”. When I first started using Joomla, that would have taken me about three hours to figure out how to do properly. Now, it takes about 5 min. Learning curves are painful but worth it if you can push through.