Welcome to Joomla!

John's tips to help you build a great, Joomla! powered website

  1. Welcome
  2. What is Joomla?
  3. Installing
  4. Configuring
  5. About Templates
  6. Tips and Tricks

joomla_logo_1_transparent.pngIf you are here, you are probably looking for some ideas on how to build a great Joomla based website.

Great!  I think you will find some helpful resources here to help you move forward with your project.

This all developed from my own Joomla journey, and then my efforts to collect some good Joomla resources for others who were struggling to "think like Joomla thinks."

Joomla is a wonderful piece of software. I can't believe that it is free!  But, it does take a while to understand the concepts and know where to go to customize your site so that is says and looks and behaves that way you want it to.

Because Joomla is community supported, this little site is part of my effort to give to the community.

Joomla! is an award-winning Content Management System (CMS) that helps build powerful websites and other online applications.

As an Open Source solution that is freely available to everybody. Joomla benefits from a huge development and user community (over 140,000 registered users at forum.joomla.org!) - making it a wonderful platform for building scalable collaborative websites.

You can use Joomla to build a website for your business, church, non-profit organization, blog, or your favorite hobby. Or about anything else you can think of!

Like any powerful system, it can take a little while to really learn, but easy things are easy to do!

Before you can use Joomla, or even take it for a "test drive," you've got to install it.

Joomla is not a program you install on your own computer (like a word processor).  It runs on a web server. So, to install Joomla you need access to a web server provided by a web hosting service, or your own server if you have one.

So, how do you install Joomla?  Well, there are quite a number of options.

  • Many web hosting services offer a "one-click" install using Fantastico or some other script installer.
  • You may want to install Joomla yourself by uploading the files to a webserver via FTP and setting up the database yourself.
  • You may want to get a Joomla friend or a firm to install Joomla for you.
  • You may want to install Joomla on your own computer, develop your site there and then upload to a web server.

Read the overview article on Joomla installation

How to install Joomla using "Fantastico"

Congratulations!  You have Joomla installed on a server somewhere, and you are sitting there staring at the default template, possibly with the sample data.

Now what?  What do you do next?  You are full of questions!

  • How do you create pages?
  • How do you set up your menus?
  • How do you get a picture on this crazy thing?
  • How do you arrange things on the pages?

 

Configuration Articles

 

The appearance of your Joomla website is determined primarily by your template.  And there are a lot of templates available, or you can create your own.  But generally, most people getting started with Joomla will want to take a pre-designed template, and then customize it for their own needs.

And, for many people, the template IS the website. It is what people see.  All that wonderful Joomla magic behind the scenes is plumbing.

Some templates are free.  Some are purchased.  And finding just the "right one" can be a challenge!

So, where do you find these templates? And once you get them, how to you customize them?

Joomla Templates Links

 

The question was:

I'm novice in Joomla and I need clarification about the terminology. For example some extensions have different types, such as component, plugin, module, language. I don’t actually understand, what type of extension I have to download and install.

I need to install FacileForms, but I’m not sure, what type of extension I have to download, FacileForms Component, FacileForms Mambot or FacileForms Module.

Any stuff (explanations, links, references) will be greatly appreciated.

So, I tried to give my explanation:

My reply, part 1

Let me see if I can help a bit here.

A component always displays its results in the "mainbody" area of your template.

A module displays its results outside of the "mainbody" ... usually along the side, top, or bottom of the mainbody.  (Actually, I guess that about covers everything, doesn't it!)

A mambot (new Joomla terminology is "plug-in") adds capability of some kind to components and modules.

So, for example, with Facile Forms, the component would display a form that you have created in the "mainbody" area of your site, and would be generally called from a menu or a link in some article.

The FacileForms module allows you to publish a form in a module "position" ... outside of your mainbody.

The mambot allows you to embed a form within an article or other content item.

Now, here is a quote from the FacileForms documentation that may help a bit more:

There are 3 ways to run forms:

  • Run the form in the main area of your frontend, the component space. This is done by creating a menu item of type component.
  • Run the form in a module position. This is accomplished by editing the default Facile Forms module, or making a copy of it and adjusting it. The optional Facile Forms module must be installed to run forms in module space.
  • Embedd the form into an existing content. This is done by entering a meta command (a tag) into the content at the place where you want the form to be displayed. The optional Facile Forms mambot must be installed and published for this method.

Now, generally, when you install an extension like FacileForms, you would generally install the component, and the module, and the mambot.

Some Joomla extensions will actually install all 3 at the same time for you (if they have all three).  That way, all of the capabilities of the extension would be available to you as you develop your site.

I hope that helps, at least a bit!

My reply, part 2

Well, after this, I got a very nice thank you note from the person who asked the question.   I replied:

Well, I'm glad it helped you.

I remember when I was just getting started with Joomla, that exact concept (what's the difference between a component, module, and mambot / plug-in) was confusing.

And I read an explanation about like what I just gave you, and something clicked.

It really, really is a key distinction to get ahold of, and it really helps you "get your head around this Joomla thing."

Many times I'm helping people with their site, and they ask, "How to I change the title of this?"  or "How do I move the login box from the bottom of the screen to the right side?" or stuff like that.

And, I always begin the conversation with, "OK.  Let's think.   Where would you find the settings for that?   Is it in the mainbody?  No, so that means that it is a ...?   Right, that means it is a module?

And where do we configure modules?   Right ... in the Module Manager."

Once we go down that path a few times, it starts to make a bit more sense.