Joomla's greatest strength is also its greatest weakness. The number one thing I hate about Joomla is its Extensions. At time of writing there are 9005 listings at the Joomla Extensions Directory. Despite the fact that these are well categorised and often include reviews, the sheer volume means it can be difficult to find the ideal solution. And then, when you find something interesting, you might spend hours installing, configuring and testing, only to discover that it doesn't do the job you expected.
Here are three methods to help you choose the right extension.
Firstly, read the reviews. Relying on the developer's description alone is a bit like believing what's written on a wine bottle label. You can get a good feel for the quality of an extension by reading the reviews, but don't necessarily get put off by one or two bad ones. It is common for some users to try an extension and then immediately write a bad review because they haven't taken the time to learn how to use it. But clearly, if there are a lot of negative ratings then you're best to keep looking.
The next best step is to look for screen shots, or preferably a demo version at the developer's site. This often helps to give you a feel for whether an extension will do the job, without wasting time trying it out.
Finally, it is a VERY good idea to test the extension before installing it on your live site. There's nothing worse than installing an extension that brings down your site. This shouldn't happen of course, but it does occasionally. Usually all you have to do is uninstall or disable the extension to get your site going again. But in extreme cases this doesn't help and you have to reinstall your site, which as you might imagine is a nightmare. You DID make a backup before you installed the extension, didn't you? The easiest way to test an extension is to have a local copy of your site. Our Joomla Pro course includes lessons on how to install Joomla on your local computer. This provides the opportunity to install, configure and learn about the extension in a safe environment, before unleashing it on your live site.
So, there are three steps to help you choose the right extension. But one final gripe before I sign off. Because extensions are developed by hundreds of different developers, there tends to be a lack of consistency between the ways each extension works. The methods of achieving some result in one extension might be vastly different to the methods of achieving that same result in another extension. Or the icon might be placed or named differently. Hopefully this lack of standardization of the Joomla user experience will improve in future versions, as we reported in Joomla News.
So that's the number one thing I hate about Joomla. Next week I'll reveal the Number One Thing I Love About Joomla.
Is this what irritates you the most about Joomla? Or is it something else? Leave your comment below.