I recently started development on a community portal and classifieds site and I chose Joomla as the content management system because of it inherent ability to be able to support article submissions, eCommerce, classifieds, blogging, personal message systems, search engine optimization, security and aesthetics.
When I say inherent ability I should clarify that it supports including third party modules, components, plugins and PHP programming to extend its core. Joomla is open source and is also free, which is a great combination. In the past there had been some security issues that have been addressed by the Joomla development team; making it less vulnerable to attacks. To this I must add that you can never have too much security and for every lock you build, someone will figure out a way to break in or get around it.
Of the multitude of third party extensions for Joomla, there are only a small handful of classified ad options. Some of the more promising are AdsManager, AdsFactory and Marketplace. Of these three, AdsFactory is the only one that is built with native support for the newer Joomla 1.5 environment. Adsmanager and Marketplace are built on the legacy 1.0 Joomla environment. As regards support, the quickest for response time for me was Marketplace. Second was AdsFactory and AdsManager is a little slow when it comes to responding. For the latter, the most common method for obtaining support is to post to a forum and hope to get some feedback there. However, AdsManager and Marketplace are both free and opensource. If you have an intermediate level of PHP knowledge you can expand. AdsManager also will custom build for those wanting to pony up the money to do so. The features on AdsManager really outweigh the features on Marketplace; and both are in continual development … with inherent bugs that need fixes. With that being said, AdsManager has a lot to offer; and in my opinion is the best option for a third party classified extension to Joomla. AdsFactory, however, claims to be an out-of-the-box solution, built on the smarty system. It is not free and those who purchase a current version of their extension are not allowed to use it except on one site. Modifications do not appear to be welcome … They want to make all the money they can. In fact, if for example you purchase version 1.1 and next month they release version 1.2, you do not get the upgrade unless you want to buy the next version. This would not be too much of an inconvenience if their extension only cost $20 or so. However, it is over $200 for the extension and if you buy it and find it has bugs that don”t get fixed until the next upgrade, you are simply out your investment and will need to pony up the money again if you want to buy the version where they fix the current bugs. You don”t get free patches to bugs. At least Microsoft will give you free patches for their software of comparable price. (Note: the comparison between Microsoft and AdsFactory is not really apples to apples, because you get a lot more R&D, functionality, etc from a Microsoft application than with an AdsFactory extension. I only made the comparison because you can buy a Microsoft Office Suite for about the same price as AdsFactory … and certainly they will come out with a new version in two years, but you get free bug fixes and patches for the version you purchased; unlike an AdsFactory purchase) Hopefully, in the near future AdsManager will develop a version that has Joomla 1.5 native support. Until then, they are still the best option for a classified ad extension to a Joomla site.