Die Beste Aller Zeiten

Going direct to heaven, going direct the other way

Category: Joomla (Page 1 of 5)

How to center module content

Quite a few people have asked this in the last few days. The answer is, sadly, that it depends. More specifically it depends on your sites CSS – there is no module setting to somehow center content via the modules HTML.  If you show me your site I’ll do my best to help, but without seeing your HTML there’s no way I could answer that.

    Module for 1.6 Test Release

    I have now published a test release for the place here module for Joomla 1.6. The purpose of this release is to establish what works and what doesn’t work. I would not recommend to use in on a production site (unless you own tests show that the module is fit four you intended purpose).

    On the other hand it has in some places probably less bugs than previous releases – since I had difficulties to locate updated developer documentation  for 1.6 I had to look into the source code to see what parameters are expected by Joomla functions.

    However there is at least one issue that might be a showstopper for you. I haven’t quite figured out the routing – if you display links to articles in the module (via readmore or linked titles) the links will work but are a little malformed. Which means that you suddenly have different links to the same content which isn’t very good for SEO.

    This has been tested with a current Joomla 1.6 on XAMPP (with PHP 5.3) on Windows 7.  I had a few problems when no articles showed up at all, but this has always to be turned out to be a problem with the test data, not  the module, so make sure the content you’re trying to display does actually exist.

    I’m getting married next week, so don’t expect any quick progress on this. Still your feedback is very welcome.

    And of course the link: Module for 1.6

      Patching mod_placehere up for !J 1.6

      I have been rather busy lately – I’m currently in the finishing stages of my transition from freelance bachelor to married employee – with absolutely no time for module developement. However by popular request I have finally started on a 1.6 version for the place here module.

      This will take a long while. There is no download for 1.6 yet.

      In theory it would be possible to write a version that runs on both 1.5 and 1.6. However since I’m already putting time into this I want a fresh start on the thing. So the conversion to J! 1.6 comprises two stages.

      There will be a patched up version that removes references to all the stuff that is thankfully gone in J!1.6 – namely the difference between “sections” and “categories” and some rather unnecessary database tables. But even so the code will be a mess. Joomla by now offers a rather nice API to construct sql queries. The queries in mod_placehere however are generated by some not-so-nice string concatenation. So the second stage will be a complete rewrite to bring my code in line with Joomlas coding standards.

      I guess it will take eight days or so before I will release a developement version that provides at least the basic functionality of  the module (but don’t stake your career on this, I’ve broken promises before). Then – well, we’ll see.

      My current employer does not use Joomla ( and I don’t use it much anymore either) so I will have to rely pretty much on your feedback. I’m also thinking about opening a public repository in an attempt to attract co-maintainers. We’ll see about this, either.

      Anyway, the module is not dead (unless the feedback indicates that it is no longer needed).

        Joomla! 1.5 Beginner’s Guide

        I do have a love-hate-relationship with Joomla. I hate it because of its glacial pace of development, because I think it falls short as a framework and because of the quite simplistic ways it organizes content. I love it because slow development means you have a stable platform and because the easy-to-use admin interface allows even not too technical minded people to set up and maintain their own website without getting a computer science degree first. And I will always have a soft spot for Joomla! because this is the CMS that got my little business started.

        Joomla! 1.5 Beginner’s Guide by Eric Tiggeler [1] is the book that will get you started with Joomla.

        To make the best use of the book you should have some prior knowledge – namely, you should be aware that on the internet there are server- and client side processes, that there are such a things as “databases” to store your content in and languages like HTML and CSS to structure and display your text. You will not actually need to know all this stuff to make your website work (the book sees to that) but it will sure help you appreciate what the CMS does for you.

        A Content Management System, Tiggeler writes, is like a coffee machine – you press a button and “the machine invisibly fetches all the ingredients […] to serve a cup of fresh coffee, latte, frapuccino or decaf”. Unfortunately, the analogy doesn’t end here. Every coffee machine is made of different parts and control elements which, while they more or less do the same thing, are labeled differently with every brand of machine. In fact I found that learning brand specific idiosyncrasies is the biggest hurdle you have to clear when learning a new CMS.

        This is where the Joomla! Beginner’s guide comes in handy: It introduces new terminology step by step and in the order in which you will need it – no back and forth between different chapters necessary. And while each section introduces new terms and concepts on a need-to-know basis for the task at hand, by the end of the book you will have a pretty complete picture of what you can do with Joomla.

        Each of the twelve chapters (covering topics from installation via content editing, template customization etc to search engine optimization) is divided into small, tutorial-like sections. Every section defines a discrete task (e.g. “add an article”, “edit the css file” ), provides (under the headline “Time for action”) a set of instructions on how to accomplish the task and explains afterwards “what just happened”, i.e., why things work the way they do. To round everything off, there is a summary at the end of each chapter and a quiz to test your newly acquired knowledge.

        The book also exemplifies the proper perspective towards web site building: This is not about the technology, fancy as it may be. This is also not about you, the developer. This is about the people who visit your site, so you have to make the site usable (Chapters 5 to 8, content and menu organization), engaging (Chapter 9, “Enabling User to contribute and interact”) , attractive (Chapter 11, “Working with templates”) and, of course, easy to find (Chapter 12, “Attracting search engine traffic”).

        The Joomla! Beginners Guide succeeds, not only because it is well-structured and comprehensive, but also because of its clear and simple language – Eric Tiggeler largely avoids metaphors and analogies which might be helpful to the English and Americans, but tend to confuse matters for non-native speakers (in fact, my own style is much more convoluted than Eric Tiggeler’s, so if you’ve made it this far in the review you will have no problems understanding the book). There is also some humor – the example site you are working on throughout the book is for the fictitious SRUP, the “Society for the Re-appreciation of Ugly Pictures” and I couldn’t help but smile when a screenshot announced an upcoming Bob Ross exhibition.

        Of course, I have to do some nitpicking: I don’t know if it makes sense to introduce Content Management Systems as the next big thing when powerful Open Source CMS have been around for the better part of the last decade; I certainly do not agree that Joomla has “powerful multi-level site organization capabilities” (two does not qualify as “multi” , or powerful) and as a somewhat seasoned developer I’m silently gnashing my teeth when somebody suggest that CSS is actually quite easy. But then the book is a little like the IPCC Climate Report in that you really don’t want to dismiss lots of valuable information just because there’s something wrong with one or two inconsequential paragraphs.

        You will not need the book if have already done a few sites with Joomla! and felt comfortable with the CMS. It does not contain any super-secret stuff , you will find all of the information on the Joomla! documentation pages or by asking in the Joomla! community forum.

        But the Joomla! Beginners Guide is an excellent book if you have never worked with Joomla, or tried to build a site and got frustrated with the intricacies of the backend, or else, if you looking for a resource to train your in-house staff. And while most of your questions will be answered in the forum, this is the book that will give you an idea what to ask for.

        I can’t directly compare it to similar books (having outgrown the need for Joomla Beginners books for some time) but I can still say that, specific software aside, the Joomla! Beginners Guide could very well serve as a benchmark for other writers; this is how introductory material should be written.

        1. Joomla! 1.5 Beginner’s Guide
          Paperback : 380 pages [ 235mm x 191mm ]
          Release Date : March 2010
          ISBN : 1847199909
          ISBN 13 : 978-1-847199-90-4

        mod_placehere with Joom!fish – does it work for you?

        A few people have asked me if the “place here” module will ever support Joom!fish, something I had admittedly never properly tested, so I assumed that it would indeed not work (although I wasn’t sure why, it really should have worked).

        Today I downloaded Joom!Fish 2.0.4 Stable, installed it on Joomla 1.5.15, entered a few translations and – voila!- the module displayed the translated content.

        So, is it a fluke that this happens to work on my site? Or does placehere with Joom!fish work for most people and fails only for the few who have asked? I would be happy to hear from people who have actually used the combination of the two and what the problems (if any) where.

          Finally, some new code (needs testing)

          I made some changes and additions to the “Place here”-module (content item module for Joomla 1.5.x); I have tested this with J! 1.5.15 on Win Vista / XAMPP but would welcome feedback from people who tested this on other platforms.


          Version 1.3.0
          + Renamed “default” template to “table based template”
          (since it’s not the default anymore)
          + Added “order by publishing date”
          + Patched in W. Brockmans change to sort by hits
          + Added integration for tags extension by
          joomlatag.org (module view is filtered by templates tags)
          + You can now enter a range of ids into the id-field

          So there are three minor and two major changes.

          I renamed the default template since it is actually no longer  the default (this means if you upgrade the module and you use the table based template you will need to update the template setting in the module parameters).

          There are some new ordering parameters, partly by courtesy of W. Brockman.

          A more substantial change is some level of integration for the tag extension by Joomlatags.org (apparently not  the same as joomla-tags.com, so do not confuse the two). If you enter a tag or a comma separated list of tags into the “Filter by tags” -field (right beneath the id field) only the articles that are tagged accordingly will show up.

          To save you a bit of typing you can now enter a range of ids into the id field – if you enter something like “1-3,6-9” it  will be expanded into  “1,2,3,6,7,8,9”. Incidentally this means you can use the module to show all articles with a certain tag – simply enter your tag, set the “type” option to “article” and enter “1-10000000” (some number that’s larger than your actual number of articles).

          And finally I added a rather crucial sentence to the module description, and that is not all parameters will work with all templates. Selecting articles and ordering them will work no matter what, but everything that has to do with actually displaying stuff (link titles, show icons, show category etc) needs to be supported by the template (you should be okay if  you choose eiter “beez” or “table based”).

          Download page : http://diebesteallerzeiten.de/blog/module-15/

            I’m back, sort of.

            It’ been quite some time since I last worked on the place here module. Today I rebuilt my testserver, installed a current version of Joomla and started to sort the feature requests from the comments. There is no new code yet, but I will maintain and improve (hopefully) the module for the foreseeable future.

            So if you have made a feature request be assured it is not forgotten and, if technically feasible, will be honoured.

              I think I’ve just about had it with Joomla

              Over the weekend I tried to implement a basic custon fields solution for Joomla. There a indeed a few add-ons for custom fields (k2 for example, or jSeblods Content Creation Kit) but they all do way more than I need/want, plus I don’t think they are good enough, interface-wise, for technically inexperienced users.

              I just wanted to add a few text fields to an article , depending on the selected category , and have a simple plugin to format them in the frontend.  How difficult coud that be? – after all, the necessary infrastructure of events and hooks and triggers is already in place. Or so I thought.

              Okay, so it was my own fault, I could have read the documentation more carefully; instead I had read some forum discussions where people made the same wrong assumptions as I did, namely that an onSave event would allow me  to do something as soon as an article is saved.

              It doesn’t. About the only thing it does is to return a small string of javascript that is somehow needed to store the contents of the WYSIWYG editor field, and it’s useless for anything else. There is no hook or event that allows any interaction with content data when it’s saved.  Which made me think.

              I started using Joomla – well, actually I started with Mambo 4.5.  Then I waited a year or so for the new and improved version (whatever it was to be called), instead Joomla forked of the Mambo project, and I switched.  Then I waited for what felt like another two years for Joomla 1.5.x and while I read about the new Codebase with MVC and everything that tied up the developers time for years I have to say I simply do not see where all the effort went. When I look at what I actually can do with the system Joomla is still stone age technology; pretty much all I can do is publish simple articles, provided they don’t need to look particularly nice and one category per article is enough and I don’t need proper user management or workflow or revisions and I can do without comments and trackbacks and all the other newfangled stuff on my “blog” (a misnomer if I’ve ever heard one)  layout.

              Yes, there are extensions, but Drupal with CCK and the views module could propably replace two-thirds of all Joomla extensions, plus you can do everything via a common interface instead of a plethora of home-grown component interfaces.

              So, Joomla was nice as long as there weren’t better alternatives, but when I look at the pace of development it’s always too little, too late. I will watch Joomla so I can maintain my module and retain a level of expertise for those clients who insist on Joomla (if any), but I won’t use it anymore if I can help it and I will not even try to develop any other extensions – why would I, when other systems do anything I need right out of the box.

                (Is there) A Custom fields solution for Joomla ?

                One of Joomla biggest problems (and one the reasons I’m slowly moving away from Joomla) is that there is only one content type. If you need anything else than a basic article you have to find, or write, an extension  – not the most flexible way to handle content.

                WordPress, which in it’s later incarnations works pretty well as a CMS solved a similar problem with a mechanism called “custom fields”. For any article you can store additional info as key/value pair in the database with the post id as an identifier. If you use a plugin like the fantastic “more fields“-plugin you can even define arbitrary content types with additional editor fields, dropdowns etc.

                I wonder if there is something similar for Joomla. I found two Summer of Code-Projects for custom content types that both seem to go nowhere (come to think of it, I can’t remember any Joomla related SOC project that produced a stable extension) and there is pages-and-items which, judging by  the raving reviews, seems to be a fantastic piece of software but which apparently breaks with the standard Joomla interface and introduces it’s own page-tree view (not a disadvantage of course, it just seems it’s a lot more than I need).

                I think it’s strange that Joomla did not introduce a custom fields mechanism with 1.5 – after all, the necessary infrastructure with hooks and triggers is already in place. So it should be possible to insert custom fields in the content manager, save key/value pairs with an onSave trigger and pull them from the database and format them according to a given templat (maybe with a component to create fields and templates?) with a plugin on display.

                This seems so straightforward that I can only think that either a (working and mainained) extension like this is already there and I didn’t see it or that items-and-pages is already the best possible solution and there is no need for a more simple extension ( I can exclude the possibility that nobody actually wants custom fields – I know a lot people who do).

                I would be quite interested in you opinion on the matter.

                  Sticky: Joomla Downloads

                  If you are looking for the Joomla Module that used to be hosted at this page please be advised that this is deprecated or at least no longer actively maintained.  If for some reason you still need to download the module you’ll find the version for 1.5 (there is no more recent version, although this is reported by some users to work with J! 2.5) here: http://diebesteallerzeiten.de/blog/module-15/. You find some info on how to use the 1.5 module here.

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