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Building Websites with Joomla! 1.5
March 28, 2008
Week: 99 All time: 120
development.assist.dyndns.bizThis book is a tutorial guide to Joomla! 1.5. It was written and published during the development of Joomla! 1.5.
It is intended for Web developers, designers, Web masters, content editors and marketing professionals. It is suitable for anyone starting out with Joomla! 1.5, for people who upgrade to Joomla! 1.5, and for those who just want have a good printed manual at hand.
The first chapter is called terms, concepts, and deliberations. It lays the foundation for the rest of the book. I think this chapter clearly shows the author's fine teaching skills.
Without realizing it, the reader can learn all the important basics and principles behind Joomla!. Here you will find an answer to questions about the history and structure of a great CMS.
Among other things there is a great rant-like comparison between the business models of Microsoft and Sun Microsystems. You can read about the fork from Mambo and the structure of a CMS. The chapter ends with an appetizer, showing off some web pages made in Joomla!.
Chapter two steps you through the installation of Joomla!. In only 20 pages, you learn what you need to install, run and manage Joomla. Then it steps you through several types of installations on either Windows, several flavors of Linux and even on a virtual private server (VPS).
You can learn how to setup a testing system or a production system and the differences between them. Installing Joomla! is a piece of cake, grab a bite.
Chapter three shows you around through your newly installed system. It is a quick tour that is intended to get you acquainted with the basic structure of the system.
Joomla! tends to be a bit confusing initially because the sample data was meant to show off as many aspects as possible. Therefore it sometimes is a bit overwhelming. This chapter helps you to understand what you are actually seeing.
From chapter four to eleven the book gives you a clear and understandable breakdown of all the features Joomla! has to offer you in its basic state. Starting with the handling of multiple idioms and the how the look of the pages can be changed using templates.
Then it introduces the administration interface. After that, the book guides you through the many settings that can be altered in the site menu. This is a typical must read section, as a lot of these settings will also influence the security of your system. Don't start without reading and understanding this.
The following chapters explain how to create menus and content, and how to use some of the preinstalled components. Chapter ten will then show you how to use the extension menu. It is a considerably important chapter, as it offers you the power to create the sites shown at the end of the first chapter, by extending and changing the default capabilities of Joomla.
Up to this point the author has given you a full manual to Joomla! 1.5. But the book does not end here. In chapter 12, Hagen shows you how to use a few extensions that, not only show you once more, how to incorporate third party extensions in your Web site, but also gives you a few fine examples to add to your site.
Fireboard is the more or less recognized standard for a forum extension. If you build a community site with forums this is the way you want to go.
DOCman is an extension that can make your content management even better. DOCman enables you to work with remotely stored documents. It provides an access control system.
Exposé Flash Gallery can render images and video with the so called 'ahhhh' effect. It is based on Adobe's Flash format. It has many different options to present your images or videos.
Now you do not have to install these to use Joomla!, but I can assure you from experience that it will make your Joomla! life much easier and interesting if you install them.
Chapter 13 is about the inner works of Joomla: the templates. These are made of a mixture of HTML, PHP and Joomla! tags to design the presentation of your site.
This chapter shows you how to create or change a template. This chapter is complemented by chapter 14, which was actually written by Angie Radtke who created the Beez template.
The chapter discusses the so called Barrier Freedom and demonstrates its use in the Beez template. To abbreviate, it shows you how to not exclude people with a disabilities from your Web site, which is in some countries indeed a legal requirement. I hope that Google uses these standard guidelines in its Web page ranking system.
The nice thing about this chapter is that it shows how to change the Beez template by its own author. Before you ask, to make the Beez resize your pages dynamically you just need to edit position.css file where it says max-width: 1000px; to max-width: 100%; and deal with the consequences. If you want to make a serious template please do consider reading this chapter.
Chapter 15 shows you basically how to create your own extensions. It covers a complete framework that can get you started. It shows the basics of MVC programming in PHP.
If you want to develop good extensions you would better use one of the other available Joomla books dedicated to that subject, like Mastering Joomla! 1.5 Extension and framework development by James Kennard. Never the less, this chapter gives a good idea of the work involved, by stepping you through every aspect in the making of an usable extension.
Chapter 16 and 17 form the grand finale. Here the author takes you through a step by step approach to develop a Web site with Joomla! 1.5. All the experience gained in previous chapters is applied in practice.
In fact in a merely 30 pages, you will be building a Web site for a fictitious family business site. After this building your own site should prove as easy as Joomla!.
This book is very complete. From the beginning to the end, it is a real piece of great instructional value. I can see it being easily used in workshops.
It does not require much programming knowledge until chapter 13, which starts requiring some PHP experience to be understandable.
The only thing I really miss in this book is a chapter about security. A lot of sites get hacked because of the inexperience of beginning developers. Some simple guidelines would have made a great addition to the book, especially for the beginning site administrators.
Hagen Graf was able to pass his knowledge of the subject, combined with his teaching experience, in a way that organizes the book into a complete tutorial and reference document.
He is not just listing features and their use but also explains very clearly how Joomla! happened, what technology was used and how everything evolved.
He is clearly very passionate about Joomla! which shows already in the preface starting of with "Joomla! is life!". But anyone that ever worked with Joomla! will easily forgive him and may become equally enthusiastic after reading this book.
1. PHPClasses.org: Book Review - Building Websites with Joomla! 1.5 | Development Blog With Code Updates (2008-05-01 13:27)