Tutorials, reviews, case studies and other tips to help website owners and website developers master the Joomla content management system.
Site Administration Blues
The Joomla Administrator includes some basic management tools such as the ability to update to the latest version and view the most recent logged in users. If you manage one or two sites, you probably haven't given this much thought. But when you have several sites to manage, updates become a pain and more features could be included to make the life of a busy webmaster much easier.
I had been playing with the idea of developing a Joomla extension to address these issues, but I have decided that it will never see the light of day. Well, at least it won't come from my desk. Having recently given up the development side of my business to concentrate on producing more training, I don't particularly want to go down the road of creating software. The amount of time, energy and money involved in creating, supporting and maintaining an application is far greater than most realise. And if you saw my priority list, you'd agree that I would be mad to take it on.
It's no coincidence that I am writing this on the back of an announcement by JoomlaShack that they, in conjunction with Alledia, are releasing some sort of Administrator extension called Admincredible.
Please understand that I'm not suggesting that I thought of this first. They haven't announced what it does and besides, even if I had, ideas are worthless without action. I'd be a very rich man if all I had to do was come up with the ideas. No, it just reminded me that there is a real need for a more powerful Administrator and I hope these guys produce a fantastic product. If so, I'll be first in line. But a plea to the developers, please don't let it become vaporware. KagoCommerce was announced over a year ago.
Extension Features - Updates
As I have no intention of producing an extension, I'm happy to share the sorts of features I would have included. Perhaps some of these will be included in Admincredible or if not, perhaps you'll be inspired to develop something along these lines. Firstly mine was going to be called Joomla Webmaster. Wow, creative huh? The most basic function would have been a central update location where you could update Joomla on multiple sites at once. Possibly automatically. And a related smartphone app that alerted you when Joomla or a third party extension needed an update.
Although updates go a long way to securing a Joomla site, it would be helpful to monitor a particular page and send an email or app alert if certain content on that page changed. If the site was hacked and the content changed, you would quickly be alerted. This wouldn't always work of course, as this function relies on Joomla working and as such if the entire site was brought down, the extension wouldn't work and couldn't send the alert. There are ways around that, but it would require some setup at the web host. This feature could be used for non-malicious monitoring too such as when a user posts to a forum.
Broken Link Checker
One of the most frustrating user experiences is clicking a link that goes to a non-existent page. Broken links are common and arise when a page is moved or if the link was created incorrectly. As a site grows, it becomes impossible to regularly check links and you can subscribe to third party services, including Google Webmaster Tools, to monitor links for you. However the limitation of those services is they only check publicly visible links. Joomla sites can include private pages and it would be ideal if there was a tool that checked those too. This would be possible if the checker was built-in to Joomla as it could scan all content.
Poor spelling and bad grammar often lets me down. Unlike broken links, it doesn't break the user experience, but it does make the site owner look stupid. (Note to the poor speller - write anyway - your audience will let you know, as you have let me know, when you get it wrong. Don't let the fact that you didn't pay attention at school stop you from having a go. Sorry Mum, you were right.) Once again there are third party services, but they can't check private pages. And some of these services are expensive.
That's as far as I got, but there are many more tasks a webmaster must perform that could be added to such an extension. If you are a Joomla developer, and Admincredible doesn't include these features, perhaps you're the one to build a fantastic webmaster extension.
What do you think? What regular task drives you nuts? What features would you like to see in Administrator? Let me know below.