Picking the right classified ads platform for Joomla

With the decision to go with Joomla as my CMS, my next hurdle is to figure out what additional components I’ll use with it. As I’m building a jobs site, my first priority is to evaluate and select a classified ads platform. I’m going to want to keep my costs down, so my personal selections will be somewhat biased as a result.

Deciding between home grown or off the shelf

While I can hack around a bit under the hood with HTML, I’m a little leery about trying to put together something as complex as a classified ads platform from scratch. For someone with more time or programming talent than me, this might be a solution to consider. A home grown platform could be completely tailored and customized, allowing it to stand out compared to any competitors. As the existing choices are so feature rich and easily modified, this is not a path I intend to pursue.

The solutions available for classified ads vary in price from free–always a great option–to quite expensive. As I said previously, though, as my budget is limited I’m only going to focus on the free choices that are available.

Choosing between tight and loose integration

While there are a good number of free classified ads choices available, not all of them integrate closely with Joomla. In reviewing my options, I realized that while the tightly integrated ones are easily installed and configured within an existing Joomla site, they seem to be less frequently updated and supported. In contrast, the less integrated ones seem to be far more actively developed with vibrant support communities, but can be a real chore to seamlessly interface with Joomla. It’s a difficult trade off between ease of use and a perhaps fuller features set.

I discovered a few options, such as Jobline and Marketplace, which appear to be tightly integrated with Joomla. It seems that both of these products are no longer being developed, though, and so in the end I decided that selecting one of them would be unwise. Instead, I elected to solely focus on options that were currently and actively supported.

Comparing Noah’s Classifieds and AdsManager

Noah’s Classifieds seems by far to be the grand daddy of classifieds ads platforms, with an immense base of installations and users. The main site doesn’t have a support forum, though, which was troubling at first until I stumbled upon the Noah’s Classifieds Unofficial Support Website which has a great forum. There is a version of Noah’s for Joomla, too, making it appear to be quite attractive. Because it was modified to work with Joomla, though, the development of the Joomla version and the normal version aren’t in synch, and I wasn’t personally comfortable with using it.

The other choice was AdsManager, which was developed specifically for Joomla. It’s website isn’t glamorous, but the software itself is impressive. It was designed from the ground up to be very closely integrated with Joomla, allowing it to share user accounts and permissions, which makes it very easy to setup and configure. It also has a very active support forum. I asked a number of questions, and got responses very quickly, enabling me to quickly move forward with the few configuration issues I experienced.

The best classified ads solution for Joomla

I felt a strong case could be made for either Noah’s Classifieds or AdsManager. In the end, I opted to go with AdsManager, though, due to its seamless integration with Joomla and the strength of its community support. Thus far I’ve been very satisfied with both its features and support, and feel it’s the right choice for the jobs site I’m building.