Joomla! greetings

Next week I’ve been asked to go to the netball club committee meeting and tell them a bit about what a website is and whether I should be making them one. In order to get my brain in gear I’ve been thinking about tools that would be suitable for this … I have been looking for a reason to try out Joomla! for a while, because the site uses it and I don’t know much about it. Anyway last week I read a good review of it in LinuxFormat which reviewed a number of CMS tools and rated Drupal best but gave Joomla! the same score but said it was simpler.

So I’ve just installed Joomla! for the first time and it was as easy as falling off a log :) Actually it might have been even easier than that, once I set off through the process of installing it then suddenly I was all done and fiddling with the admin tool! This product has a very active community behind it so I was quickly able to grab some free templates and suchlike, very cool (especially as they look quite complicated to write from scratch) and appealing to my instant-gratification appetite.

Items, Categories and Sections

All items (my items are like articles, I’m still learning so not sure if this would always be true) have to go into a category, and all categories have to go into sections. It is necessary to set up the sections and categories first, before creating anything to go in them; the Joomla! manual explains that these are like folders and drawers and your room would be a mess if you didn’t. Its easy to move things around later anyway so that’s no big deal.

I found it confusing to add a link to a section and realise that this would then list the categories within it, rather than the items. However I got around this by removing the menu item and creating a new one which pointed directly to the category.

Table – Content Category

The default section listing is horrible, its a big table with the date, the author, the section, the title, the phase of the moon and a bunch of filters and other navigation. The category in question is a list of netball venues and there are about five of them! I faffed around with templates and had a bit of a dig in the code (I knew there was a reason I always use PHP stuff even though I rarely fiddle with the code as it only causes upgrade nightmares), but I couldn’t work it out.

To cut short a long story, in which I learned the true size and depth of the Joomla! community from the sheer volume of material that’s around, what I actually needed to do was edit the properties of the menu item (obviously!) to make the category display differently. I’ve turned off all the guff and now I’ve got a nice, tidy list. sighs contentedly

First impressions

First impressions are that I love Joomla! but I’d need a good reason to install a tool with quite this many capabilities. This website uses textpattern and that’s more than enough for every day, but Joomla! can handle so many different types of content that there’s hardly anything you can’t do. Anyway the main purpose of the new site is to show fixtures so I will soon be trying out some events calendar extensions … I’ll let you know how I go!

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