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Joomla! 1.5 Beginner's Guide 74

Posted by samzenpus
from the read-all-about-it dept.
TimKrause writes "I just recently received Packt's new Joomla! 1.5 Beginner's Guide by Tiggeler. If you're new to Joomla!, this is one of the best titles out there in terms of helping you get started with your first (perhaps second or third) Joomla! site. Tiggeler does a nice job covering all of the basics: everything from downloading and installing Joomla on a server, configuring it, and confirming the installation to working with and then removing the sample data that Joomla provides. The book lives up to its promise by including a chapter that promises the reader they'll have a site up and running in about an hour. Based on my own experiences, I suspect that, for most intermediate developers, Tiggeler is right; for beginners, expect to take a little more time." Read on for the rest of Tim's review.
Joomla! 1.5: Beginner's Guide
author Eric Tiggeler
pages 380
publisher Packt Publishing
rating 9/10
reviewer Tim Krause
ISBN 1847199909
summary If you want to build and maintain your own web site, the Joomla! Beginner's Guide is perfect for you.
One of the challenges that I observe with many new Web developers is struggling to understand how to develop enough sample content for one's site in order to make adjustments to the site template, and define it's structure, before adding remaining content and functionality. Tiggeler actually does a nice job carefully moving back and forth between creating content, and giving it structure. In doing so, it's also important to note that this book isn't about theory, or just reading, it's about doing. Every section includes a "Time for action" that walks site owners through doing what was explained on their own site. For more adventurous site owners, there's also a "Have a go hero" activity that is much less directed, and which provides additional (but appropriate) challenges.

Tiggeler starts out with the basics of downloading and installing Joomla. If you're going to use this book, you'll either need Web hosting (preferably Linux) or the expertise to install a flavor of XAMPP on a local computer. Either aren't necessarily difficult (most Web hosting offers 1-click installation of Joomla, making it as easy as a click of a button), but require thinking about Web design differently than with static HTML pages.

In any Joomla! book, there are a couple of must-haves for me, and Tiggeler does a nice job discussing them. The include: SEO, metrics and site security. Under site security note that JoomlaPack has been replaced with Akeebo Backup. It's the same great functionality, but with a new name (and a new subscription-based version that offers enhanced options). It's important to note here that Tiggeler is not only thorough in covering the basics, but often provides more advanced direction, and discusses any of the more technical issues which a developer might run into when installing a component, for example.

The book also includes screenshots that make it very easy for the reader to follow along. In fact, I found myself trying out a number of things on my own site as I read. The screenshots and directions were all accurate and correct.

Once you get comfortable with everything Tiggeler has to offer, including the very basics of component and module installation and configuration, I'd recommend that you turn to some of Packt's other titles, like Joomla 1.5 — Multimedia by Walker for additional guidance on learning the more detailed ins and outs of specific types of components. Joomla Cash is another option, and discussions key e-commerce components like VirtueMart.

Nevertheless, what sums this title up best for me is Chapter 4: Web Building Basics: Creating a Site in an Hour. I was suspicious at first, but am confident that with Tiggeler's guidance, it's quite possible to build your first basic Joomla! Web site in about an hour. That's an excellent premise, and the book delivers on it well.

If you're looking for a beginner to intermediate book, there aren't many other alternatives available. O'Reilly has a titled called Using Joomla! by Severdia and Crowder, that was published earlier this year. At the time, I was pretty impressed with it, but I think readers will find Tiggeler to be both more direct and more focused in his approach. For example, Severdia and Crowder devoted a chapter in their book to Joomla 1.6. It was interesting, but largely academic given that 1.6 is still in beta and not something most of us will be working with.

I teach Web Design, including a course on Web Content Management Systems (Drupal, Joomla and WordPress) and have literally read dozens of these types of books in the past year or so. I also teach a capstone course where my students create Joomla-based sites for local non-profit organizations. We have completed sites for nearly 100 clients in the past two years. Currently, Joomla 1.5 Beginner's Guide is what I recommend to new Joomla! site owners. As a result, I also will begin using the same book in class starting next semester so that students are familiar with what their clients will be reading.

Tim Krause is an Assistant Professor of Computing and New Media Technologies at the University of Wisconsin — Stevens Point. He writes regularly about Joomla and Web Content Management systems.

You can purchase Joomla! 1.5 Beginner's Guide 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 Beginner's Guide

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  • by negRo_slim (636783) <mils_oRgen@hotmail.com> on Tuesday June 01, 2010 @12:38PM (#32420948)

    Nevertheless, what sums this title up best for me is Chapter 4: Web Building Basics: Creating a Site in an Hour. I was suspicious at first, but am confident that with Tiggeler's guidance, it's quite possible to build your first basic Joomla! Web site in about an hour. That's an excellent premise, and the book delivers on it well.

    Even less than that: install with default data, write up some menus, install a logo and delete all the default articles.

    Bada bing bada boom.

    • by DJ Jones (997846) on Tuesday June 01, 2010 @12:50PM (#32421126) Homepage
      Yeah, that works great if you want a blog. If you want to create anything other then that, Joomla becomes one giant headache to customize.

      If you need a book to understand a CMS, you have defeated the purpose of a CMS. You might as well pick up a book on PHP, you'll end up reaching your goals faster.
      • If you need a book to understand a CMS, you have defeated the purpose of a CMS.

        QFT

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by negRo_slim (636783)

        Yeah, that works great if you want a blog. If you want to create anything other then that, Joomla becomes one giant headache to customize. If you need a book to understand a CMS, you have defeated the purpose of a CMS. You might as well pick up a book on PHP, you'll end up reaching your goals faster.

        The power of Joomla lies in it's separation from data and presentation, you can make any kind of site you want with Joomla. From the simple personal webpage to fully featured eCommerce solutions. It's all a matter of how much work you want to put into it, which compared to other solutions, won't be a whole lot of time at all.

        • by Lumpy (12016)

          And someone can attack your site easier because it's obvious what you use.

          Custom code makes it harder, they cant use canned scripts to take advantage of published flaws.

          This is one of the problems I have with PhPNuke, Joomla and the likes... they are high profile targets.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by negRo_slim (636783)

            And someone can attack your site easier because it's obvious what you use.

            Custom code makes it harder, they cant use canned scripts to take advantage of published flaws.

            This is one of the problems I have with PhPNuke, Joomla and the likes... they are high profile targets.

            Well when you have clients and deadlines you tell me how well all that custom code is doing for you!

      • Yes, while I prefer to work in straight PHP, often the point of working in Joomla is end user customization.
        With a little bit of training and monkey can update the site/articles. With your typical PHP solution someone familiar with PHP has to maintain the site.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          I've never understood how a templating language is any more or less difficult than a simple php (or jsp, or whatever) page in which you're doing only presentation-- displaying data provided to you by other system components. It's still code, no matter how you cut it. A look at the example provided at the bottom of the Understanding Joomla! templates [joomla.org] page bears this out yet again. Except you have the added benefit of several additional components to be configured separately in XML and INI files (but as

          • The end maintainer shouldn't be altering the templates either. They can alter the articles, choose amount a list of templates, and alter the placement of modules.

            • But wasn't this in the context of customization? Or did you just mean being able to change basic appearance through the admin interface, without changing the templates?
              • That's what I meant. Joomla is more difficult to customize/program. But the reason for this is to make it easier to hand over to someone with no programming abilities to maintain in the long run.

      • by Lumpy (12016)

        That's why I use Silverstripe. I can take ANY website and turn it into a silverstripe theme in short order. Writing custom modules to do custom things is really easy as well.

        Joomla is great for the "my site looks identical to yours" group of rapid deployment. But when you want to do really fancy or different things (menu navigation in a 2X4 grid) suddenly it's a major pita. Plus converting a customers HTML site to a Joomla site is a raging pain in the butt.

        • Plus converting a customers HTML site to a Joomla site is a raging pain in the butt.

          Depends. A lot of customers these days specifically want their site too look like the status quo in any given field. And a lot of the generic templates you often see used in first time business sites often do lend themselves to a quick conversion in Joomla. Disable some components, maybe write a few simple custom ones as need dictates and you can crank out an imitation of a lot of the generic templates pretty quickly. Then from their you can ramp functionality and style according to project needs.

        • by xevioso (598654)
          You can build virtually any site you want very quickly with Joomla. There's nothing stopping you from using the Joomla framework to build very fancy things like the menu you mentioned; there are plenty of modules that allow you to code anything you want in a module spot. And once you learn how to build joomla extensions, make your own fancy menu for the rest of the world to use.
        • by noahisaac (956470)

          Joomla is great for the "my site looks identical to yours" group of rapid deployment. But when you want to do really fancy or different things (menu navigation in a 2X4 grid) suddenly it's a major pita. Plus converting a customers HTML site to a Joomla site is a raging pain in the butt.

          I don't follow this at all. All a Joomla template is is an HTML page with a few PHP calls inserted to load content. It's really easy to convert HTML to a Joomla template. That's part of the development process for every

      • by Raunch (191457)

        Very true, and if you want a blog, use wordpress; it takes about 5 minutes to set up and is really great at doing blogs.

        Joomla inhabits a strange place where they took a CMS and tried to pretend that it was a MVC framework. I see people trying to use it as such, and while you can get *something* up in a hurry, there is a very narrow margin between wordpress and a real framework for joomla to inhabit.

        Everyone: please don't use Joomla! (unless you can guarantee that I won't ever be responsible for taking th

        • by xevioso (598654)
          I absolutely love Joomla. You can make extremely complex sites very quickly, and just like any language/framework, once you learn the ins and outs it becomes very easy to do very complex tasks.
      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by roadsider (970039)

        WRONG!!

        Listen, Mr. High N. Mighty PHP developer, I struggled for months and months to fully understand HTML and then CSS. I come from a print design background who understood the need to get into the the whole interactive/web arena. To me, the whole thing of designing in HTML is akin to designing in Postscript. If you have to know the code, then what's the point of trying to be a designer? You might as well become a coder.

        The problem is -- in my experience -- coding and design is a left brain right brain ki

        • You could have just hired a developer or a firm to design and build it for you using the framework or language of your choice. You say that you come from a print background and learned HTML and CSS to get into web design. Fair enough, but why also spend your time learning a CMS framework like Joomla? Are you going to move into the programming side of web development? I cannot tell you how much crappy software I have encountered over the years that was cobbled together by dabblers with "almost no coding expe
          • by roadsider (970039)

            I learned a CMS framework like Joomla for the same reason I learned how to use InDesign, Photoshop, Illustrator, Filemaker, etc. Because it is -- for me -- yet another piece of software that once mastered, allows me to do my work for clients without having to constantly crack open the hood to play and tweak.

            Besides, I could hire a developer to build something for me, but who's to say that what he/she builds is any more secure than Joomla? Have you ever had to hire someone to do such work? I can tell you tha

      • by mok000 (668612)

        Yeah, that works great if you want a blog. If you want to create anything other then that, Joomla becomes one giant headache to customize.

        That is simply not correct. It is very, very easy to produce a non-blog website with Joomla. Wordpress is a blog system, and Drupal needs lots of work to not be one.

      • by dr_strang (32799)

        That's bullshit and if I had mod points I would mod parent down.

        You're talking about Drupal, pal.

  • by iggymanz (596061) on Tuesday June 01, 2010 @12:50PM (#32421132)

    Should have including a phrase stating Joomla! is a combined content management system (CMS) and web application framework in PHP using MySQL back end.

    Seriously, I've used several such systems over the past 12 years but never heard of Joomla!, so I know I can't be the only one who would have appreciated a phrase defining the thing

    • Re: (Score:1, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Wow seriously, you've never heard of i?. I believe Joomla! is either the most popular or second most popular PHP based CMS (next to drupal).
      Have you been sleeping for the past 6 years?
      I agree though they should have stated what Joomla! is

      • by iggymanz (596061)

        hah! no, Symfony and Zend would be one and two. and #3 is NOT Joomla!

      • by sco08y (615665)

        Wow seriously, you've never heard of i?. I believe Joomla! is either the most popular or second most popular PHP based CMS (next to drupal).

        If they hadn't already lost my interest by putting an exclamation point in the name, you lost me with PHP.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      Seriously, I've used several such systems over the past 12 years but never heard of Joomla!...

      Seriously!?! Joomla! is the number one non-wikipedia result on Google for the search "content management system" (followed by Drupal, opensourceCMS and Alfresco). I've only been working with various CMS for 7 years (started with PHP-nuke/postNuke) and yet I don't know a single web developer/programmer who hasn't at least read about (if not tried out) Mambo/Joomla! and Drupal.

      For crying out loud, there have been five slashdot articles [slashdot.org] about Joomla! since the beginning of 2010. I, for one, don't feel

      • For crying out loud, there have been five slashdot articles about Joomla! since the beginning of 2010. I, for one, don't feel that slashdot readers need to be told such details when speaking about industry-leaders in a tech field.

        I have a confession to make... sometimes I'll let a story float down the page without reading it....

  • by galaad2 (847861) on Tuesday June 01, 2010 @12:54PM (#32421184) Homepage Journal

    this book is already obsolete, joomla 1.6 is almost ready to be released as stable, currently it's in a state of public beta testing (beta 2).

    there are enormous differences between 1.5 and 1.6, menus are in different places, API has changed a lot (templates for 1.5 won't work for 1.6 without major changes) and so on.

    • Considering 1.x is still around and people are active with it, I wouldn't worry about 1.5 becoming obsolete. It's my understanding that 1.6 was aimed at enterprise situations anyways.
      • by Zadaz (950521)

        Yes, but a majority of people who nead a "Beginner's Guide" of this type will be doing a new install, with the latest version.

        However, having worked with Joomla (Sorry I don't add exclamation points to names) as well as many other CMSs around I can say that it's kind of inherently obsolete. It is incredibly arcane, awkward and a constant fight to use. It's the kind of software that seems almost intensionally convoluted so it can sell more How To books and support contracts. Menus items are semi-randomly o

        • Any web technology is inherently obsolete the moment the 'general public' is aware. From <blink> to DHTML to AJAX by the time a book can be published it's use is already used for hackneyed me too design.

          I get the most benefit out of Joomla because of it's framework of opensource components, rapid deployment of the design of the site and the ability to insert my code where needed.

          Granted the initial steps to becoming familiar with framework are not as easy as it could be but often times it comes down
        • by xevioso (598654)
          The problem a lot of people here seem to be having is speaking of Joomla as though it is the only thing you use when building a website. Joomla has 5000 extensions written for it, and if you can't find what you need, there's 20 other solutions that will do it for you. Menus are in wierd place? Install a menu module that will put them where you want. Content organization counterintuitive? Install the K2 framework, and organize it however you like. The add-on community is absolutely incredible; I can alwa
  • A little late (Score:3, Informative)

    by Crudely_Indecent (739699) on Tuesday June 01, 2010 @12:58PM (#32421236) Journal

    Version 1.6 is in beta testing and should be stable in a few months (or less). Judging from the activity on the Joomlacode site, I'd bet sooner.

    Anyone considering buying this book should wait a few months for it to be made obsolete by the release of version 1.6.....that way they can get it at a discount.

    Seriously though, anyone considering buying this book should wait until they write the beginners guide for 1.6 which has radical changes and completely eliminates the legacy layer, as well as single level depth section/category organization.

    • If you waited to buy your books based upon impending releases, you'd never end up buying any books at all.
      • If you waited to buy your books based upon impending releases, you'd never end up buying any books at all.

        Which is why I don't typically buy books anymore, unless they are fiction. The future should involve subscriptions to experts writing on popular topics getting paid, but I don't see how we'll all transition to that. Ebook subscriptions are kind of neat, but still lame compared to instant Google results.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Step 1: Don't
    Step 2: There is no Step 2!

  • Joomla is great! (Score:2, Informative)

    by guysmilee (720583)

    Joomla is simply some of the best FOSS available.

    I am an 'Average Joe C programmer' and have used Joomla to create at least 4 simple sites in under a weekend of work (including writing my own templates, and components).

    My only complaint with Joomla has been that the CMS does not have automated way to download and install CMS/component/template/module updates (e.g. something like apt-get update/upgrade). Unless you keep on top of security patches your site is very likely to be cracked within a year in m

    • What Joomla really needs is a reference diagram view between its components. Because it is annoying to track down what component is connected to what menu on what view linked to what piece of content. If you look at the ER diagram and then the front-end interface, you find Joomla has the bad habit of having multiple items refer to this one component, but component never refers back to any of the items. If you want cookie cutter sites quick then Joomla is a good way to go about things. However if you have to

  • Okay, seriously? How many Joomla book reviews do we need? (If you answered at least 6 in the last year [google.com] including today's, you apparently win the Internets today.)
    • by owlnation (858981)

      Okay, seriously? How many Joomla book reviews do we need? (If you answered at least 6 in the last year including today's, you apparently win the Internets today.)

      This is obviously a symptom of the fact that so many books on Joomla are written. And the reason why so many books on Joomla are written is because, it just about impossible for even a reasonably technically adept person to figure Joomla out by looking at the progam and reading their documentation.

      And there is the core of the problem. Joomla h

      • by xevioso (598654)
        I disagree. I have been able to teach people who have no idea what "back-end" means how to log into a cms, make changes, install templates, and edit pages very quickly. The one problem I have found is teaching people the difference between category and section in naming structures for categorizing articles. But that has pretty much been it.
  • I'm on my crusty alone on this, but i'm always suspicious of a computer language who's name can't be typed without resorting to a shift-number-row character. And/or, why does one have to shout "joomla!"? (see also: C#, C++, Action!, Go!, @Formula...). perhaps it's time to fork Whitespace as "_@&$++_!" using only those characters...
  • by grcumb (781340)

    That book -even the review of it- was way too verbose.

    Here is everything any beginner will ever to know about using Joomla:

    DON'T

  • One word summary (Score:1, Redundant)

    by Hognoxious (631665)

    Don't!

  • Seriously, don't use it.

    You know how c developpers look down on c++ developpers, and c++ developpers look down on java developpers, and java developpers look down on php developpers?

    php developpers look down the same way on joomla developpers.

    • by AP31R0N (723649)

      What do you propose as an alternative for a FOSS CMS system?

      Side question: If i'm none of those, how much should i care about who is looking down on me? i just want a simple system to build a site without becoming a developer. So far Joomla is doing that well for my purpose (a site for my video game group {something like a guild}). Is there a grown up reason for using something else? "Joomla devs are doodoo heads" (the essence of your post) is not a grown up reason.

      Developers has one P.

      • by Rhaban (987410)

        The main reason for using something else is security. The model is deeply flawed, and new security breaches are discovered every other day.
        Add to this the fact that updates are non-trivial, especially when you use 3rd party extensions (extensions that are the root of most security breaches. Close second is the media manager), and you can conclude that using joomla is an even worse idea if you're not a developper.

        As an lternative, I suggest Drupal. A little harder to understand at first (may need 2-3 hours t

    • Re: (Score:1, Troll)

      by Hognoxious (631665)

      And people who can spell "developers" look down on you.

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