Joomla! is a free, open source content management system and web application framework that is used to distribute content online or an intranet. Written in PHP, Joomla employs object-oriented programming, software design patterns and uses MySQL as its database program. Joomla’s feature-rich interface includes RSS feeds, blogs, polls, page caching, international language options and the ability to modify the CMS with many different extensions. These extensions can equip Joomla with almost unlimited, constantly evolving functionality, as any developer or programmer can create new and dynamic add-ons to the Joomla’s core.
How to find Joomla:There are several different ways to install Joomla, depending on the intent. If you want the intended site to be able to be online, you will have to designate a web server for it, a domain for your site’s URL and an appropriate hosting company. The requirements for Joomla hosting are: PHP, version 5.2 or newer, MySQL version 5.04 or newer, Apache 1.3, as well as access to the following database info: database name; host name; username and password. Also needed is a FTP client for file upload. A good recommendation for a free FTP client is Filezilla, found at http://filezilla-project.org/. You will also need to download the latest version of Joomla, found at http://www.joomla.org/.
If you want to play around with Joomla, you can access a fully functional demo website at demo.joomla.org.
The first choice for install is seeking out a one-click install, as many hosting companies offer Joomla install as a service.
The second possibility for install is the traditional option. To install Joomla this way, you must copy the Joomla zip file to your host account, unzip it, create the database and then install. You can find instructions on the Joomla parent site page for Installation: http://docs.joomla.org/Installation.
You can always take your previously created demo site and follow the instructions to back-up, transfer to a current host, or create a new hosting account once you outlast the trial for the included hosting option.
There are quite a few extremely helpful guides to using Joomla once you have installed it. Suggested resources for beginner Joomla users are “The Joomla version 1.5 Quick Start Guide,” http://help.joomla.org/ghop/feb2008/task048/joomla_15_quickstart.pdf, best used with usage videos found at http://help.joomla.org/ghop/feb2008/task167/index.html, and “Learn Joomla 1.5 Fast Scribd” (a very nice PDF document with great visual aids), found at http://help.joomla.org/files/VisualGuide15.pdf.
Choosing & modifying your template:
A vital part of Joomla is the endless template options it can handle. Joomla comes with quite a few default templates that are customizable but there are also a host of companies that offer a variety of unique templates for purchase. Again, the options for a Joomla template site are endless but a few good ones are: Rocket Themes, found at http://www.rockettheme.com, Template Monster, http://www.templatemonster.com, and Theme Forrest, visited at http://themeforest.net/.
Installing a template bought separately from Joomla’s core install is generally pretty easy. You will need to export the zipped template into the Joomla administration panel. To do this, you will need to access the admin side of your site, usually found at: www.enteryoursite’s namehere.com/administrator, then click on the “Extensions” option and choose the Install/Uninstall option.
Next, once in the “Extension Manager,” click the first option titled, “Upload Package File.” Click the “Browse” button to access your computer. Choose the correct file, and then click the “Upload File & Install,” button. You can also access a step by step guide to installing a Joomla template at: http://docs.joomla.org/How_to_install_templates. A good top to keep in mind is if you are installing a template with the same name as one that already exists within the Joomla install, it will cause compatibility problems. You will need to rename the template, as the CMS does not allow two templates to exist with the same name.
Another helpful function to master is how to create pages. Joomla makes this process pretty simple. You would again access the administrative interface and click the “Add New Article” button. Another way to achieve this is to click the “Content,” option, then the “Article Manager,” and choose, “New.” The new page will prompt you for a title, make sure to set the “Section” and “Category,” options to “Uncategorized” and click the “Save” button. The page will reset to the “Article Manager,” where you should see the created page as well as the option to delete or create a new page. It couldn’t be easier.
Maintenance and Security:
You will want to either create a service level agreement for yourself or hire someone to keep the maintenance of your Joomla site up to date. Generally, maintenance or service level agreements span month to month and involve daily back-ups of your site, monitoring for errors or bugs that arise, security and performance testing at a minimum. These services are necessary to ensure the health of your site and protection of the content within it.