First, a few things to remember
Joomla extensions fall into three categories: Components, Modules, and Plug-ins (or mambots). Let's take a look at what each one does:
|Components||A component is is an application that fits inside Joomla that generates content that fits in the "main body" of the Joomla page.
|Modules||A module generates its content outside of the main body of the Joomla page ... either to the left or the right, or above or below the "main body."
|Plug-ins (or mambots)||A plug in adds some type of extended functionality to Joomla, and it works throughout the content of the site.
Photo zooming tools
Some typography extensions
So, you've got this nice module you want to use
So, let's say you found a great module that you want to install. For this example, let's say you decide to put the JoomlaShine ImagShow Slide Show module on your site. Great. It's a nice tool that is easy to use and easy to configure.
So, how do we install this thing?
I'm assuming at this point that you have downloaded the module from JoomlaShine's website. Let's take a look at it.
Look at the File Name
Notice the file name of this module. It is "mod_jsn_imageshow.zip".
The clue you are looking for here is that it begins with "mod_". Generally, modules that begin like this, or components that begin with "com_" and mambots that begin with "bot_" or "plugin_" are ready to install just like they are. You don't need to unzip them first. The Joomla installer will handle that for you.
So, you've downloaded this file to some location on your computer. Let's get it up to your web site.
Go into your admin back end, and if you are using Joomla 1.0.13, go to Installers -> Module. (If you are installing a component or a mambot / plug-in, just use the appropriate menu item.
If you are using Joomla 1.5, then you will go to Extensions -> Install / Uninstall. Joomla 1.5 uses a single installer for all extensions.
Once you are in the installer, you will navigate to the module file on your computer that you want to install. Simply click on the <browse> button and find the mod_jsn_imageshow.zip file.
In Joomla 1.0.13, it looks like this:
In Joomla 1.5, it looks like this:
Next, navigate to the mod_jsn_imageshow.zip file and then click <Install>.
Wait a bit while the file uploads to your server, and then installs. If all goes well, you will get a brief message along with some instructions, and a message at the bottom saying "Continue..."
You're done! You've installed the module.
Now, you need to configure it.
In Joomla 1.0.13, module configuration is done from the Modules -> Site Modules menu.
In Joomla 1.5, modules are configured at Extensions -> Module manager.
The next step is locating the module in the list, and then clicking on the name to configure the module.
Module configuration consists of setting the various options that control how the module works, where it appears on the website, and what pages it is shown on.
To locate the module, you may have to look at the module names in the right column of the screen. The left column shows the module "Title" which is what appears on the web site. It may or may not be the same name as the module "name."
For example, with this slide show, the name of the module is mod_jsn_imageshow, but you may have a title of "Welcome to My Website" as the title.
Options, Options, Options
Some modules are very simple and have just a few options. Others, however, have a lot of options! Here is where having the documentation for the module handy. Sometimes you can figure it out, but sometimes you need to read the instructions! Often a module has some basic documentation built into its configuration screen, and other times they have a link to the instructions somewhere on the web.
But, let's take a look at configuring the mod_jsn_imageshow module.
Basic Configuration Steps
When we choose to edit the module, we will see the configuration screen. At the upper left are some basic settings. Let's take a look at these:
In Joomla 1.5, this screen looks like this. The settings are basically the same, though:
The key element to know here is the "position." Joomla templates have "positions" assigned to them, and you need to know the name of the "position" where you want to module to appear. This information will be supplied by your template provider.
So, select the appropriate position. If you have more than one module published to the same position (a very common thing with the right and left sidebar positions), then you can specify the order that this module appears in relation to the other modules at the same position.
Most modules will have some additional parameters that need to be set in order to make it work properly. In Joomla 1.0.13 these additional parameters are generally below the basic settings box. In Joomla 1.5 the parameter settings are generally to the right side of the screen.
For this particular module, there are a few settings that we need to make. Since its job is to do a slide show of images, we need to set what folder on your site it should get the images from. So, let's set that to a subfolder of the "stories" folder called "slides"
There are a number of other settings as well. You can often get help with the settings by holding your mouse over the label of the setting (with a dotted line below), like this:
The parameters will vary, of course, from module to module, and sometimes it take a while to figure them all out.
Now, what pages does this appear on?
Joomla allows you to turn a module on and off on a page by page basis. This is done by selecting the menus / pages where you want the module to appear.
There is a special list on the right side of the screen that allows you to select the pages where you want the module to be active. In Joomla 1.5, the list is to the bottom left of the screen, generally.
If you want the module to appear on all pages, simply choose the "all pages" option:
However, if you want the module to appear just on one page, or just on certain pages, then you can click on that page in the menu list. If you want it to appear on more than one page, simply hold your <Control> button down while clicking.
So, for example, if we want this slide show to appear only on the "home" page, we will choose Home. However, since this particular site has 2 menus with links to the "home" page, we need to select "home" on each of the menus.
Here is what I mean:
Once you get these settings the way you want them to be (and it often takes a few trials to get it right), go and view the public "front end" of your site. Navigate to some pages and see how things look.
Now in the case of the slide show example, we need to load some pictures into the images/stories/slides folder to get any pictures to show up, but once we do, our slide show will make them look great!