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.