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The number one thing I love about Joomla

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Last week I revealed that the number one thing I hate about Joomla is extensions. I also suggested that Joomla's greatest strength is also its greatest weakness. Of course that means that the number one thing I love about Joomla is also extensions!

Yes, listing over 9000 extensions can make it challenging to find the right one, but there are often reviews and screen shots to help you decide. More importantly, it means that there is a plethora of choices to suit a wide range of needs.

Many of these extensions are free and open source. So not only can you use them on your site for no charge, you can modify the look and functionality to suit your needs. 

Some people are averse to spending anything on their website, and if this is you, I encourage you to reconsider. Commercial extensions are definitely worth a look. With some exceptions, I have found prices to be very reasonable for the functionality that is provided.

Here are three extensions you've probably never heard of that you should consider installing on your Joomla site (you'll get sick of me saying this, but ensure you backup your site before installing an extension). 

The first is Editor Switcher. Joomla can have more than one HTML editor, and you switch between them either in Global Configuration or your User Profile. However, there are times when you find it easiest to use one editor for one task and a different editor for the other task. Constantly changing this setting is annoying, and that's where Editor Switcher comes in. When installed, a small drop down box appears at the top right of your Administrator pages listing each of your editors. You can then quickly choose your desired editor, edit an article and then switch to a different editor. Another developer previously developed this for Joomla 1.5, and this version is available here under the name ND EditorSwitch.

 

 

Importing and exporting users from Joomla is something you might expect to be built-in to the core, but alas this much requested feature can only be achieved with an extension. I recently had to import some users into a new site which would have taken hours manually or would have been tricky to do directly into the database. A free extension called userport saved the day. It's not that well documented or intuitive, but it does provide everything you need to import users, assign them to a group and optionally send a welcome email. You can also do a test run to ensure it is working as expected before committing your final data. An export function is also provided. 

 

 

We like good photo galleries, and one you probably haven't seen is RokGallery by RocketTheme. This is a commercial extension, and I have included it for two reasons. Firstly, it is a great gallery which is compatible with mobile devices as well as normal browsers. More importantly, if you hate the idea of paying for anything, this is a great example of why you shouldn't automatically dismiss commercial extensions. RokGallery is a solid piece of software from a respected developer that provides an abundance of features for just ... $20! You can waste time trying various free alternatives or just jump straight in and be up and running quickly. Sure - there are times when a free extension is more than capable (e.g. we like sigplus), but if a commercial option exists, don't immediately dismiss it. Developers tend to see the value in a commercial solution right away. It takes hundreds (sometimes thousands) of man hours to produce a good application. So, when there's an off-the-shelf solution that does the job, it's an easy decision. And if it goes close to doing the job, developers can simply change the code to suit their requirements. 

 

 

Do you love or hate Joomla extensions? What's been your best or worst experience? Are you still confused between components, modules and plugins? Is there an extension that you'd love to see that doesn't exist? I'd love to hear your comments, so please write below.

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Comments

  • Richard Pearce
    Richard Pearce Thursday, 1 March 2012

    I'll get the ball rolling. I wish there was a combined project management / support ticket / customer relationship management extension. Hard to achieve, but very much needed.

  • Feebz
    Feebz Thursday, 1 March 2012

    I love that most of them are very clean. You can install, try and uninstall without breaking everything on most occasions. I've only had one extension bugger anything up at all, and that was a template of all things.

  • Marie
    Marie Thursday, 1 March 2012

    I love easyPayPalButtons. I'm not ready for a full-on shopping cart, but there are a few items I want to sell. With easyPayPalButtons I was able to set up two unique buttons that did EXACTLY what I wanted ... in only about 5 minutes. Compared to setting them up on my old site .. it took hours.

    Great product, well work the small amount paid for it.

  • JP Fourie
    JP Fourie Thursday, 1 March 2012

    Hi Marie.
    This is exactly what I was looking for - a recommendation of this product from someone - I will get it today, and I hope that I will also have experience that you have had. Thank you!
    JP

  • Kevin Morrison
    Kevin Morrison Thursday, 1 March 2012

    All great tools that you mentioned and we are on the same page needing a good project management tool. I found FreeStyle support to be a viable option for some of the support and although it is a bit rough around the edges and support is spotty I did not have to much trouble getting it setup. It really is a good extension (actually several components, modules, plugins and menus) http://freestyle-joomla.com.

    Marie, I would like to recommend Ecwid for your shopping cart solution. It has a free version that will probably do everything you need and the developers of the Gallery tool that Richard talks about here 9RocketTheme) has developed a free extension to get it into your Joomla site. Very powerful tool for a small shop (www.ecwid.com).

  • Michael Sharp
    Michael Sharp Thursday, 1 March 2012

    An insightful

    JCE is a nice way to extend the WYSIWYG editor.

  • Michael Sharp
    Michael Sharp Thursday, 1 March 2012

    A insightful blog to get a good conversation going.

  • Andrew
    Andrew Thursday, 1 March 2012

    The one thing that puts me off buying extensions or joining the various "Clubs" is they tend to expect the user to be able to modify the code in the extensions or templates.

    I would like a "Joomla Lite" the existing download but for the simple web sites where there is only one user / admin, and an easy guide to editing the index.php file so when I look at the page source I am not looking at the template name and other stuff that doesn't have to be there.

    Maybe I'm getting a bit choosy :)

    Andy.

  • Guest
    tony Thursday, 1 March 2012

    i do not understand why there is not a good
    ( club member record, dues invoicing and collection system )
    it seems to me that a subscription site EXT. is similar but when
    akeeba was doing their subscription ext. i asked that he do a club version
    and he said they are not similar

  • Murray Cowell
    Murray Cowell Thursday, 1 March 2012

    One extension that I use on every site is SWMenuPro. There is also a free version. THis extension produces great looking menus in a fraction of the time that it takes to code them manually, and the support from the developer is superb.

  • enass
    enass Saturday, 3 March 2012

    i have website in html after converted into joomla 2.5, i want to using inner pages, how use it, and how using menu in my website with joomla.

  • Ian Nelson
    Ian Nelson Saturday, 3 March 2012

    One commercial extension I have used many times is DTRegister. It is an event management extension. Has many many features, is very clever on how all the functions work and have been integrated. It has components and modules including calendar view and event list view. Links events to articles, and links to payment gateways. The developer produces updates every month and great support. I would fully recommend it.
    I presume the free ones worth a quick mention are JCE and Akeeba backup.

  • Mark Madison
    Mark Madison Sunday, 4 March 2012

    I think I mostly love the Joomla! extensions I love, and have a love-hate relationship such as you describe in your articles with the rest. I have experienced the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat. For the latter, it's hours of your life you'll never get back and probably never get paid for.

    I liked the way you balanced the pros and cons of extensions using the two articles.

    I must say that extension compatibility has also now become a big issue since Joomla! 2.5.1 was released. I have had to go out and find some new ones for the migration of some sites.

    I think Akeeba backup is the most important extension that everyone should have. I like JCE Editor and it's imagemanager plugin. For forms I recommend aiContactSafe. For a 2.5 compatible slideshow I recommend ShowPlus. All the above are free, but I agree that some extensions are worth the investment. One is SPUpgrade if you're going to migrate your site to 2.5 from 1.5.x.

    Sometimes you just have to read the reviews and take the leap. One thing we all should be grateful for is the robust development community surrounding Joomla! and it's fundamental open source nature.

    Thanks for the great posts!

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