The top Joomla extensions used by web developers

Published by Vic Drover

Top Joomla Extensions

Here at Watchful, we help Joomla users manage tens of thousands of Joomla sites. This gives us a lot of insight into the world of Joomla extensions and provides a unique view of Joomla trends. Each autumn we analyze data across the entire Watchful platform to look for trends and changes.

The official Joomla extension directory ranks extensions based on user reviews. In contrast, our ranking represents the most popular extensions used by the professional web developers who make up the bulk of our customers. These are not the extensions with the most reviews, the best marketing, or the cutest mascot.

The top Joomla extensions in 2020

Joomla Content Editor is the most popular Joomla extension in 2020. JCE is installed on 83% Joomla sites and for good reason: JCE vastly expands the capabilities of the default content editor in Joomla. It also provides easy tools for rich media display, profiles that can be linked users or usergroups, and the ability to restrict media uploads to user-specific directories. JCE was also the top Joomla extension in 2019.

The remaining top 5 Joomla extensions are filled out by popular tools in important niches for web developers such as security, frontend display utilities and form builders. Widgetkit, Akeeba Backup, Admin Tools and RSForm all retain their 2019 rankings in these areas. Based on their increased usage at Watchful, we feel that their relative marketshare may have increased in the last 12 months.

Rank (Usage)Extension NameCategory2019
Rank (Usage)
1 (83.69%)JCE (Free/Pro)Content Editor1 (72.92%)0 (10.77%)
2 (83.45%)Widgetkit (Free/Pro)Display Utility2 (70.61%)0 (12.84%)
3 (74.55%)Akeeba Backup
Backup3 (63.63%)0 (10.92%)
4 (41.92%)Admin ToolsSecurity4 (39.65%)0 (2.27%)
5 (31.92%)RSForm
Forms5 (25.79%)0 (6.13%)
6 (21.4%)SP Page BuilderPage Builder9 (11.76%)3 (9.64%)
7 (19.21%)Cache CleanerSystem Utility7 (14.69%)0 (4.52%)
8 (17.78%)RSFirewall
Security6 (15.77%)-2 (2.01%)
9 (15.77%)Breezing Forms
Forms16 (10.02%)7 (5.75%)
10 (14.79%)JSitemap
SEO10 (11.56%)0 (3.23%)
11 (14.66%)Advanced Module

Display Utility11 (14.66%)0 (0.00%)
12 (14.55%)ChronoForms (5/6)Forms21 (8.39%)9 (6.16%)
13 (14.39%)Modules Anywhere
Display Utility12 (11.40%)-1 (2.99%)
14 (13.24%)JCH Optimize
(Free / Pro)
Performance19 (8.68%)5 (4.56%)
15 (12.93%)OSMapSEO15 (10.35%)0 (2.58%)
16 (11.27%)AcyMailingNewsletter9 (11.96%)-7 (-0.69%)
17 (10.5%)sh404SEFSEO14 (10.72%)-3 (-0.22%)
18 (9.16%)AllVideosDisplay Utility17 (9.72%)-1 (-0.56%)
19 (9.01%)DJ-ImageSliderDisplay Utility18 (8.71%)-1 (0.30%)
20 (8.59%)Add to Menu
Display Utility21 (8.39%)1 (0.20%)
21 (8.48%)K2Custom Content13 (11.13%)-8 (-2.65%)
22 (8.26%)ZOOCustom Content20 (8.49%)-2 (-0.23%)
Rank is calculated based on percentage of extension installs detected across the entire Watchful platform. * ‘Change’ is calculated by comparing the 2020 data to the 2019 data.

Movers and shakers in 2020

While the most popular tools cemented their standing, there were some noticeable changes in 2020.

ChronoForms and Breezing Forms each break into the top 10 for the first time. Together, two form builders climbed 16 spots in the rankings! With RSForm also gaining 6% of the market share, it seems that form builders are more popular than ever.

SP Page Builder had a great year also, moving from ninth place in 2019 to sixth in 2020. Page builders are enormously popular among web builders around the world. Joomla it seems is not immune to this trend.

Interestingly, the two custom content extensions in our list dropped out of the top 20. K2 and ZOO together dropped 10 places in the rankings. Page builder and custom content extensions have some overlapping features. But it’s not clear if the changes in market share for these software are related. For example, the decline of K2 and ZOO usage might be due to increased usage of Joomla’s core custom fields (which is not easily measured) and not increased page builder usage.

The other two Joomla extensions that stood out in 2020 are JCH Optimize and AcyMailing.

JCH Optimize moved up 5 spots to 14th place. Google’s increased use of page speed as a ranking factor in search results might explain this increase.

AcyMailing is down 7 spots to 16th. Newsletter services like MailChimp have been around for years, so it seems unlikely that they would suddenly impact the usage of an email extension. On the other hand, transactional email service providers like Amazon SES are growing in popularity. But on closer examination, the drop in rank is only associated with a usage change of 0.69%. It’s more likely that the increases in security, performance, builder extensions have pushed AcyMailing down. We’ll definitely be keeping an eye on this trend in next years analysis.

Auto-updating the top paid Joomla extensions

As a web developer or agency owner, we know how important it is to keep all your Joomla extensions updated. At Watchful, we’ve focused on making this a super-easy process. Simply enter your license/download key into the Settings area in Watchful. Then you can update all of the supported extensions — paid and free — using any of our update tools including our auto-update scheduler.

Of the 22 extensions listed above, 19 have a pro/paid version. Watchful supports updates for all of the free versions as well as 17 of the paid versions. This includes the 2020 additions of RSForm Pro, RSFirewall Pro, SP Page Builder, JSitemap Pro, and sh404SEF.

Over to you

Do you see any interesting patterns or success stories in this list? Is there more data you’d like us to share in future blog posts?

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Categories: Blog


Eric S · October 15, 2020 at 5:57 PM

Why do you start telling us if it is free or paid… then suddenly just forget? Also… jSiteMap does not have a free version… but xmap does the same thing for free.

    Vic Drover · October 16, 2020 at 6:39 AM

    Hi Eric, 

    In the past we just lumped free and pro together but didn’t specify. So I thought I’d clear that up. FOr some extensions it’s obvious what the ratio is, but others it is not as clear (due to extension naming and architecture). So it’s not trivial for us to accurately compare the the two. 

    Thanks for pointing out that JSitemap does not have a Free version, I’ll update the post. 

    XMap does appear in our analysis, but it’s not in the top 20. OSMap is a more recent fork I think (see above).

marvays · October 11, 2020 at 1:54 AM

Akeeba Backup
Admin Tools
Tassos Google Structured Data
JCH Optimize
Cache Cleaner
Modules Anywhere

    Vic Drover · October 16, 2020 at 6:41 AM

    Interesting list Marvays. Are you using Virtuemart on Joomla 3.9? 

Vic Drover · October 8, 2020 at 9:55 AM

We’ve updated the Joomla Top 20 rankings for 2020. Lots of interesting changes!

Anne · October 25, 2019 at 10:02 AM

A thought I have… How much is the top list being influenced by older Joomla! sites. For example, before fields were introduced into the Joomla core, my understanding was the K2 provided those kinds of functionality (only used it once, so not very up on it.) So there could be A LOT of K2 out there that, if redone, might use core fields instead. And, older sites needing that functionality would probably be those that will “stick around” longer with no need to rework things that are working. If this is a valid thought, this weighting could be giving a false picture of today’s most popular and useful extensions. Just my 2 cents.

    Steve Burge · October 25, 2019 at 11:34 AM

    Thanks Anne. Yes, that’s a very good point. This list is definitely not the same as “What extensions are people choosing now for new sites?”

      Vic Drover · October 25, 2019 at 4:55 PM

      There’s another consideration also. New sites built by more experienced builders might continue to use K2 while a new site built by a less experienced or new Joomla users might just use core. Interesting, form builders remain some of the most popular extensions despite a form infrastructure in the core. I bet this varies quite a bit based on extension category.

CYbErX · October 6, 2019 at 11:14 AM

Nice and interesting list.
Very interesting, the death(?) components…
K2 example. What do you think?

Or anyone know recommend the (K2) alternative in Joomla?
Image generation, attachment file, supported design, supported modules.

    Stef · October 6, 2019 at 11:35 AM

    Hi CYberX, my point of view is that K2 is far from dead component. I had several tweets with JoomlaWorks confirming K2 is & will be alive. But it is known that they have their own understanding of the update announcements (specially for their V3 ;). That said, I had a bug lately and a version 2.9.1 “Dev Build” was generated in the week to fix it. Now if you really want to try some other solution, have a look at Seblod. It is really powerful, and you will have almost no limit ! But you have to understand first the way it works.

      CYbErX · October 27, 2019 at 8:35 AM

      Thanks Stef!

Stef · October 3, 2019 at 9:31 AM

Hi Vic, I have never heard of a free version (been working with them since 2007 :))

    Vic Drover · October 3, 2019 at 10:13 AM

    Widgetkit Lite, Last updated July 2018.

      Stef · October 3, 2019 at 10:26 AM

      Haha my fault : i’ve always been paying my subscription at Yoo, so free version is not my best knowledge 🙂

        Vic Drover · October 3, 2019 at 10:29 AM

        No worries LOL!

Parvez · September 29, 2019 at 12:42 PM

Wondering how come a dead extension is #2 and beat akeeba and admin tools!

    Steve Burge · September 29, 2019 at 3:50 PM

    I’m not a big YooTheme user myself, but I think it’s a sign of how popular Yootheme is in the Joomla world. Plus, I don’t think it’s dead.

      Parvez Akther · September 30, 2019 at 12:21 AM

      I’ve no doubt on Yootheme popularity but WidgetKit is officially dead since they released Pro. But it shouldn’t be top of Akeeba backup/admin tools. This give me doubt.

        Stef · October 2, 2019 at 6:31 PM

        Hi Parvez, Widgetkit is still an official page of Yootheme Website : and last update (2.9.23) is from september 2019 😉

          Vic Drover · October 3, 2019 at 5:51 AM

          Is there a free version of Widgetkit 2? I think Parvez might have been talking about that.

            Parvez · October 5, 2019 at 1:24 AM

            Last major release was Oct 2016 and they just provide necessary fix till now. No major release, no feature no vision. Isn’t it called dead product in software industry?

    Sascha · January 7, 2021 at 5:02 AM

    Widgetkit 3 is coming shortly 🤫😎

      Vic Drover · January 7, 2021 at 6:28 AM

      Looking forward to it. Joomla 4 support?

Pertussini · September 27, 2019 at 1:56 AM

This top20 is very, very interesting, both to confirm that the extensions we use are quite popular, and to further investigate those we do not use. But, to continue investigating … now we want the top50;) Any extension of outstanding ecommerce?

    Steve Burge · September 27, 2019 at 6:09 AM

    We didn’t see any eCommerce extensions anywhere near the top of the list. Strange, right?

Brian · September 26, 2019 at 2:15 PM

Great list but I am fairly certain your maths is incorrect for the most popular developers. The only way akeeba would be on 98% of all the sites would be if almost every site with backup does not have admintools as well

    Steve Burge · September 26, 2019 at 2:39 PM

    Agreed. The second list was much harder to produce and definitely has more leeway in the data. I’ll double-check the Akeeba total number. Akeeba stats are boosted here because we do try to encourage all Watchful users to install and use Akeeba Backup.

      Brian · September 26, 2019 at 3:42 PM

      it looks to me that you your maths has assumed that no site has more than one extension from any developer

Sebastien · September 26, 2019 at 12:15 PM

Very interesting list! For me these top provider have confirmed their professionalism and the quality of their tools over the years. I think they are also popular because they do provide good to excellent support (some more, some less 😉 ) but overall very good and reactive. I’m glad I’m using most of them 🙂 )
I would also join Gosling, PWT SEO (and PWT ACL) is definitely worth looking into it.

    Steve Burge · September 26, 2019 at 12:32 PM

    Thanks Sebastian. Yes, some these providers have been consistently excellent for 13 to 14 years now: JCE, Akeeba, YooTheme, Rockettheme and more. That’s incredibly admirable.

Marcus Stafford · September 26, 2019 at 11:32 AM

Not surprised to see Akeeba but amazed that they are not higher in the extensions list. Both are a must have for any site.

    Steve Burge · September 26, 2019 at 11:34 AM

    Good point, Marcus. The ~35% of people who aren’t using Akeeba Backup probably need to be using it 🙂

      Marcus Stafford · September 28, 2019 at 11:48 AM

      It would certainly make my life easier (and a little cheaper for them) when their site goes boom and they come to me to fix it.

Gosling Cools · September 26, 2019 at 10:55 AM

Cool listings! I guess there are based on your stats, great!

I’d like to advise PWT SEO as an important extension as well. It’s like Yoast for WP.

    Steve Burge · September 26, 2019 at 11:04 AM

    Thanks Gosling. My guess is they didn’t make this list for a couple of reasons:
    1. It’s new. The winners have all been around 12+ years.
    2. There’s no free version. This list is dominated by extensions with Free and Pro options.

      Gosling Cools · September 28, 2019 at 1:20 PM

      Looks like the Widgetkit isn’t free.

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