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Programming Book Reviews

Joomla! 1.5 Multimedia 36

Posted by samzenpus
from the read-all-about-it dept.
Sparky Anduril writes "In this book author Allan Walker writes to inform Joomla! website administrators and developers how to enrich their websites with the inclusion of multimedia. And be in no doubt, this book is not for novices. A decent understanding of Joomla! will be required for you to benefit from this book. But all-in-all, whether you are an experienced Joomla! administrator but fear to go where multimedia gremlins tread, or someone with knowledge of video and audio but having little idea how to integrate that into your Joomla! website, this book will give you a solid understanding and ability to enable you to embed multimedia in your website using a range of techniques and Joomla! extensions." Read on for the rest of Sparky's review.
Joomla! 1.5 Multimedia
author Allan Walker
pages 376
publisher Packt Publishing
rating 8
reviewer Sparky Anduril
ISBN 1847197701
summary Build media-rich Joomla! websites by learning to embed and display multimedia content
I do have one major gripe about this book, however: the author over-utilizes the word utilize, when English has a perfectly utilizable word which actually means what he wants to say, vis. "use." I wish technical writers would keep it simple and utilize the simple word rather than the fancy word which they mistakenly think makes them sound more intelligent! So, moan over, let's plunge into the contents of the book.

Chapter 1 provides an overview of multimedia (what is it?) and Joomla! (why that's needed when the book is aimed at Joomla! admins I don't know!) and then talks about where multimedia may be included in your site. The chapter is a bit repetitive and hence could have been shorter, but provides a useful foundation for what comes next. It also includes a timely reminder about web site accessibility...

Chapter 2 talks about how to manage media on the site — using the Joomla! Media Manager, an ftp program or a Joomla! extension. A bit basic, but in case you're a site admin with little experience in this area it's fairly essential stuff.

Chapter 3 was the biggest surprise of the book, but nonetheless a useful addition. It talks about text. "Text?" I hear you say. "What place does 'text' have in a book about multimedia (apart from as the medium by which information is transmitted to my brain)?" And in fact the first part of the chapter does seem like the author is riding his hobby horse to let us know what he thinks about fonts and CSS and so forth which, while relevant to any web site, are not really relevant to multimedia. But the chapter does include information about available text and typography extensions for Joomla! which will be news to many and may just solve your typographical problem.

And if you buy this book and read up to chapter 3 and complain it's a bit basic and tedious, well, keep on reading. In Chapter 4 we start the real stuff. In fact chapters 4 to 7 are where this book comes into its own. Chapters 4 to 6 cover (in turn) image content, audio and video. Chapter 7 covers collaborating with external sources.

Chapters 4 to 6 have similar structures, each of them dealing with a different class of media. A very useful section of each chapter deals with formats (image, audio and video respectively). Then the author deals with how to include the media in the web site, using in-built features (for images), custom HTML modules and third-party extensions. The section on third party extensions in each chapter quickly presents a number of options, without giving a great deal of detail about how to use each one. And that may be frustrating but is fair enough when in fact there are a whole load of extensions the user can choose from. What this approach leads to is an appreciation of the possibilities, a list of extensions to try out for starters, and hopefully an increasing confidence in the reader that they can try things out for themselves and find something suitable for their needs. The Image chapter covers for example image galleries and slideshows; the Audio chapter includes audio players and audio streaming, podcasts and RSS feeds; the Video chapter includes Video podcasting, players and streaming.

Chapter 7 is all about the "social web": so mostly it's about including media from external sites such as YouTube, Internet radio, social bookmarking and so on. This chapter is primarily a catalog of useful Joomla! extensions you can use to provide a variety of media from a variety of sources.

Chapter 8 is about Joomla! templates and multimedia. The chapter partly seems to serve as an advocate for commercial templates, but does have some interesting content about templates and extensions to provide mobile device access to your web site.

In Chapter 9 the author pulls all this together as he develops a multimedia website using some of the techniques in the book. At the start of the chapter, he describes how to set up a local development server so you can develop and/or enhance a site without breaking the live site. For admins who have been given a fully working site, this is essential information. For many of us, that is how we started and hence we already know how to do local development. The part missing from this section is how to install Joomla! on the local server (he starts to tell it but it really needs a couple more steps to be described — although that information is readily available at www.joomla.org of course). Also, this of all sections suffers from the fact that the author is a Mac-user — I am not trying to start a Mac-Windows war, but the fact of the matter is that the vast majority of users will be Windows users, so he should have provided more information on setting up a WAMP server or XAMPP on Windows.

The code used in the book is also available as a zip file download, in case you're too lazy to type it out again and want to use it exactly as-is from the book, or perhaps more reasonably you want to try out the code or CSS he has suggested and then tweak it to your own need! Would I recommend this book? It depends on whether you want a fast start to solve your media problems. If you have little awareness of how to start, this will help you out. Or if you don't want to spend hours trying out extension after extension this will probably save you a lot of time. If, however, you are really familiar with multimedia and Joomla! and are happy to play with extensions until you find the one you need, then you could save yourself some money and go play.

I have personally found the book to be informative and in some areas opened my eyes to what can already be achieved quite easily using Joomla! 1.5.

You can purchase Joomla! 1.5 Multimedia from amazon.com. Slashdot welcomes readers' book reviews; to see your own review here, read the book review guidelines, then visit the submission page.

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Joomla! 1.5 Multimedia

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  • if "lame" == 8 (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Aighearach (97333) on Wednesday April 21, 2010 @02:50PM (#31928546) Homepage

    Not sure why it rates an 8, the review makes it sound more like a 3 or 4.

    Sounds like a man page in dead tree format.

  • by pizzach (1011925) <<pizzach> <at> <gmail.com>> on Wednesday April 21, 2010 @03:03PM (#31928876) Homepage
    Not a book on Joomla 1.5 just before it is about to become outdated.
  • by nweaver (113078) on Wednesday April 21, 2010 @03:06PM (#31928932) Homepage

    I hate! any company that decides to add random? punctuation; into their product name#, it only serves to confuse! the issue and looks% really lame.

  • My 2 cents (Score:2, Insightful)

    by hellop2 (1271166) on Wednesday April 21, 2010 @03:20PM (#31929208)
    Joomla has a horribly confusing interface. There's extensions, mods, addons, bots... What's the difference? Who knows. The admin interface is way too complicated. There's different ways to get to the same admin section. It's super unintuitive. Blech... Joomla is based around the concept of publishing "articles". But how many of your website customers need that feature at all? Like 5%. Joomla is more of a blog than a CMS for building websites.

    If you'd like to check out a much simpler, easier to understand, CMS that will enable you to quickly build the kind of sites your clients need (and simple enough for them to administer themselves) then check out Xoops. [xoops.org]

    Disclaimer: I am not affiliated with xoops in any way. Just a guy who's installed a bunch of different CMSs.
  • Re:My 2 cents (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 21, 2010 @06:18PM (#31932402)

    I can't imagine how much extra time and cost it would take to roll one's own CMS with the same feature set as Joomla. I develop Joomla-based sites for customers all the time; I feel it offers a great degree of separation of presentation and content, and (compared to MANY other alternatives) an easy-to-use interface, especially when you consider the amount of control it gives you over a site.

    Do you need to learn Joomla to use it effectively? Absolutely, just like any tool. But the learning curve is so much less steep than rolling one's own CMS. Of course, some Joomla tasks require more knowledge of Joomla than others. As I tell my clients, it's like Photoshop: It may be pretty easy to open up an image, crop it and hit Save; it's a lot harder to do more advanced things like extracting a complex foreground from a complex background in an image. It's been quite easy getting my clients to use Joomla to maintain their sites. But if you're going to use Joomla to build a site from the ground up, you definitely need to learn the details of the tool.

    So many of the anti-Joomla comments on Slashdot seem to come from professional developers and other geeks who thrive when coding their own Web applications. The rest of us just want something that works and that's affordable to set up and run. In my experience, Joomla has been a great solution for my clients, most of whom are small- to medium-sized businesses who can't afford the development or maintenance of custom software packages. On a half-dozen occasions, I've been called in to implement Joomla to replace the one-off application built a while ago by "that guy who no longer works with us."

  • by chdig (1050302) on Wednesday April 21, 2010 @06:33PM (#31932612)
    While the parent deserves flamebait instead of "interesting", especially given he/she doesn't have the guts to sign their name to the post, here's a brief reply.

    - SQL injection works on any database with any programming language, if things aren't programmed properly, and is definitely not specific to PHP.
    - PHP is not longer in version 3 or 4, it's got great object-oriented programming possibilities, is faster to program in than many other languages, and if you use intelligent caching, will be pretty much as quick -- with the remaining speed cost for using PHP made negligent by the real action happening in the database.
    - "experienced professionals" do program in PHP. A real programmer will use the best language for the job, and often times that language is PHP. Working with a client who will only pay ~$20/month in hosting on their current webhost often means that a LAMP installation is what you've got to work with. Quick, easy, secure, and job well done using PHP.
    - SQL Server is the most miserable, buggy, and overpriced db out there in my experience, and it gives no practical advantage security-wise over MySQL, and nor does postgres or other options. MySQL is ubiquitous, which is its advantage over other databases that may perform better.

    PHP is a serious programming language for web development, just like RoR and a host of others. The parent is a perfect example of some old chap that:
    a) doesn't understand the differences and requirements of web development vs classic application programming
    b) Doesn't realise that PHP has evolved -A LOT- over the past 8 years, and is no less inherently insecure than any other programming language.
    c) appears to hate programming languages that are accessible to more than computer science majors, whether some computer science majors use them or not.

    Seriously, it's time for some posters to grow up and attempt to be objective rather than inserting their short-sighted, uninformed, and most of all, unintelligent posts against some language they have a hate-on for.

He keeps differentiating, flying off on a tangent.

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