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Tuesday, April 17, 2012

What is Joomla?

Joomla is a leading Open Source CMS.  Please check out my post defining Open Source and CMS if you don’t understand what that means be clicking here.

You can build a site in Joomla for practically any type of business nonprofit and for profit.  It is created using PHP (Open Source code) and MySQL (Open Source database).  I mention this detail for any nonprogrammers because you need to make sure your web site host is compatible with this structure.

Joomla can be used for simple sites as well as complex ecommerce sites, you could use also use Joomla for an internal corporate communication tool since the interface is user friendly to manage and allows varying admin rights for multiple contributors.  Core features as stated by joomla.org are managing users, files, media, languages, banners, and contacts.  In addition you can create polls, search features, three-tiered content management, and news feeds.  You would use site templates to ensure consistency but can override styles as specific pages require.  You can add menu items and structure as your site grows.  In addition to the core features there are tons of extensions that can be downloaded and added to your site to customize actual site functionality to your needs.  Add calendars, invoicing, appointment scheduling, and live chat to name a few things.

Administration is a simple; modules can be added with a few clicks.  The visual icons in the admin panel make it very easy to understand where to go for your task.  Content can be added with a Word like formatting panel.  Templates can be changed in the template manager.  Select the template and menu structure and apply it.

Developing templates consist of standard html code with Joomla specific codes added.  All can be formatted with CSS.  An example code addition to the html code might look like:

<jdoc:include  type=”component” /> 

The jdoc:include specifies a Joomla request is being made, then the type could vary with modules, components, menus or whatever feature you want added.  Every template requires an XML schema, any outside files like an external style sheet needs additional PHP code in the link.  So it might look like this:

<link rel="stylesheet" href="<?php echo $this->baseurl ?>/templates/system/css/system.css" type="text/css" />

Notice the <?php echo $this->baseurl ?> is added to the path leading to the actual css file that you are linking to.

Finally remember the html should be saved as a PHP file.  So the home page would look like index.php For exact requirements check out http://docs.joomla.org/Creating_a_basic_Joomla!_template for sample template code.

Joomla could be the right choice for your site but developing a template can feel a bit overwhelming.  Purchasing a pre-made template could save a lot of time and frustration and all templates can be customized with your own business info.  A great place to go is http://www.website-templates-store.com/search.html?type=24 search by program type and even business type to see completed templates that will fit your needs.  Select your favorite design, add it to the cart and pay, then just download customize and upload to your hosting server.  You can have your Joomla site up and running in a matter of hours.  So what are you waiting for, go get your template and get started with Joomla today!

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