Dicovering Joomla Part Two
With my first new Joomla web-site the challenge was to revamp an old existent we-site. So after some discussion with the owner I started the design process. The result was a set of wire diagrams that reflected the aspirations and desires of the owner.
I then went in search of a suitable pre built template within the Rocket Themes collection. I had chosen them as the collection they offered had the design features I was looking for (there are many different groups offering templates as well as Joomla’s own default templates all of which may on their day be the one to suit a particular requirement. So though in this article I mention Rocket Themes a lot it’s simply because I wanted to use them for this particular event). Anyway I chose one that was compatible with Joomla 1.7 and had the Gantry Framework behind the template. I didn’t bother to load the sample data as I felt confident enough to work from scratch. This proved to something of a double-edged sword on the one hand everything took me longer to work out, than if I had been manipulating the installed data to begin with. On the other hand I learned a lot in the struggle. My advice to anyone starting from scratch would be to load the sample data.
Tip: One of the first questions I had was, where or how can I find out the module positions used in the template. The quick answer is to go into admin and then in template manager choose template and click preview. Then you will see a page diagram with the layout sed by that template. The gantry template style will show you the slider page. You can also see it using a shortcut via the browser on your Joomla site.
Talking to other people who have built a Joomla web site for themself or others there quickly comes a point when you realise or the client requests something that is not apparently available in your Joomla configuration. To overcome this restriction you will have to override a module or template. Don’t get over worried as you will find someone else has come up against this and will probably created a work round either in the shape of a module or a template change. First stop is Joomla extensions Directory can’t find the answer try the Joomla forums. This is probably a good time to mention if you make changes to Joomla core files be aware that if you update Joomla you may erase the physical changes you have made. I will bring this up in another post on changes and also backups.
The next set of hurdles I had to cross were setting the menu structure, getting YouTube videos in and satisfying the customers last-minute request to add a simple purchase facility. First the menu system, pretty much you can easily put it (or as many as you want) where you want, with what you want in it, providing it is within your template construct. That’s where the tip I gave earlier re the template preview will assist you greatly and why I suggest you use the sample data for the template first as there are such a lot of choices. e.g. here I show the list of options available to you for displaying your menu items results.
With the Gantry template options as to where the menus are placed and dimensions etc are more visually centered. see Gantry Framework where they have many splendid samples and explanations.
Having soldiered through the many options and eventually arriving at the right solution I turned my attention to the display of the pre recorded videos already on YouTube. Again I turned to the Joomla extensions directory where there were many options and this instance I chose a module that provided what I needed a no-nonsense configurable display which would allow thumbnails. The process is quite simple to add a module to your Joomla:-
- first of all choose one that is compatible with the version
- checkout the screenshots and demo to make sure it’s what you want
- download it after paying or donating unless free.
- open your admin/extension manager and install the module or plugin. This will normally upload the file you elect and automatically install it for you. Full explanations are given at Joomla documentation
- You may have to publish the module and adjust the settings to suit
- Then finally assign the module to your menu.
The last issue was to quickly provide a solution to the users request to have a simple interface to sell a couple of down loadable software titles, for a very specific sale. Having dismissed setting up a new shop just for this specific sale I looked around in the extensions and found a company called Trintronic had a nice google checkout plug-in. This suited the situation I had and I installed it as per the instructions, it worked and I presented it to the owner who asked for additional features not immediately or apparently available. In this case I posted a question on their forum and quickly got a response setting out how I could achieve what I wanted. I had a few more exchanges which were just as quickly responded to and the job was done. I must admit that nearly every one of the modules or plug-ins I have used that have required me to get more information from the author or a forum has always resulted in a quick and positive reply. The thing about Joomla is that when you start using it you quickly become aware you are joining a community that has many good people in it, just don’t expect the impossible you have to supply the right background information to the question you are asking. Before posting a question read the forums first as often someone else has asked the same question and a sound answer has been proffered, it also gets you a quicker result.
One last tip in Joomla 1.7 you have a choice to use tabs or sliders in your web-site, remember though this choice is site wide. If you choose sliders you can’t use tabs as default.