Like any area of interest, Joomla has it's own "lingo." And, knowing how to understand the terms used in Jooma can be a big help. So, get fluent in "Joomla!" Here is a basic list of frequently used Joomla terms to help you get some basic understanding.
Let's start with the word "Joomla" itself. Joomla is the phonetic spelling of a Swahili word "Jumla" which means "all together" or "as a whole." It's a great word to denote the colloborative nature of the Joomla project, and the collaborative nature of a Joomla website as well.
Joomla is an "open source" project. "Open Source " refers to software where the source code is publicly available, and people are free to develop it, extend it, modify it, and redistribute it. Joomla is a solid member of the open source software community.
A Joomla extension is an add-in to Joomla that in some way "extends" the core function. Extensions fall into one of three categories: components, modules, and plug-ins.
There is a single "hub" of information about Joomla extensions. The Joomla Extentions Directory (often called "JED") provides a categorized index of Joomla extensions with descriptions, demos, user reviews, and links to download the extensions. The Jooma Extensions Directory is located at http://extensions.joomla.org. You'll want to bookmark this one.
Learning to find, install, configure, and use extensions is a key Joomla skill.
A component is a program or application that is built on the Joomla framework that generates and presents a page. There are many "core" components built into Joomla, and many "third party" components that can be added to a Joomla site to extend its power. A lot of Joomla website development involves selecting the right component to do what you want.
Joomla components can present a single article, a series of articles around a given topic, a blog type presentation, an index of articles, a site map, a photo gallery, a list of newsfeeds or the content of the newsfeeds, a downloads directory, a calendar, a podcast manager ... all kinds of things!
The ability to add components to Joomla provides a lot of power and makes it relatively easy to develop a versitile website.
Only one component can be on a page at a time, and it is responsible for presenting the "main body" of the page.
A module can be thought of as a "mini-component." It performs side functions outside of the primary component on a given page, and it shows it's result above, below, or to the side of the main body component. It manages sidebars, for example.
There are modules that can do about anything you might need on a website. Joomla comes with "core" modules and there are hundreds and hundreds of third party modules.
Modules are often used to display menus, banners, lists, and the like.
Modules have "positions." A position is a pre-defined location defined by your Joomla template. They are usually given descriptive names like "left", "right", "header", "footer", "top", "bottom," and "user1," "user2," etc.
Learning how to place the right module in the right place is a key Joomla skill. And, a lot of the "tuning" or "customization" of a Joomla site involves coordinating your modules.
Mambot / Plugin:
A Joomla Plugin (formerly called "Mambots") are parts of the Joomla site that perform a specific function. They generally extend the functionality of the core content component in some ways. Most plug-ins work behind the scene of your Joomla site.
A template is the part of Joomla that provides the layout and design of your site. It coordinates bringing the various parts of Joomla together into a "hopefully" visually attractive way. It determines the "look and feel" of your website, defining the fonts, colors, graphics, and page layout.
For many people, a template IS their website. One very nice thing about Joomla, though, is that it separates the content from the look and feel. If you change your Joomla template, you change the look and feel of the entire site, no matter if it has 5 pages or 5,000 pages. It is a very powerful asset to the system.
Most people do not develop their own templates from scratch, as it is a fairly complex task. Generally, you would look for a template from a template provider or template library that is basically what you want, and then you customize that template with your logo, your graphics, etc.
There are a lot of free Joomla templates available. Some of them are quite good, while others are basically junk. In addition, there is a thriving group of commercial template developers that provide professional templates for sale.
In Joomla, content refers to everything available via your website. it can be an article, an mp3, a video, a link to another website, a graphic or photo. But generally, when we refer to content, we mean an "article" that is displayed on a page on your website.
Content can be organized at three levels.
First of all, the content is contained in "content items" or "articles."
Then, the content items are grouped together into categories.
And categories are grouped into sections.
So, your Joomla site must have at least one section, which must have at least one category, before you can create the first article. Generally, however, you'll have enough content to create a number of sections and categories to help segment your content into more managable blocks.
A section is the highest level of Joomla content. Sections contain categories, and categories contain content items.
Below sections are categories. Your articles or "content items" are contained in categories.