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Week 5 Blog

September 24, 2009

Installing Content and Modules

I feel very strongly that – time permitting – it would be helpful to put together a cheat sheet for just the commands needed to complete some of the Joomla tasks. This would help me on the steps I don’t make very often, at least until the process makes a bit more sense. I feel as if I am on the cusp of understanding database content – and then sometimes find myself leaving out steps that were obvious to me yesterday, but forgotten today!

  1. Challenges you faced and what you did to address them
    • Setting up sections and categories – I understand that these are in place to help me, but thinking from the client’s point of view I am not sure what will be the best way to set this up. The Joomla content demo page has very few sections, but my first thought was to use the sections just as I have the primary navigation set up. Now I am thinking more along the lines of how these sections and categories could be used – for lists of products, lists of specific manufacturer products, or blog layouts with product information for hair separate from product information for nails. Right now I am between sections of Products/services/Information about the Salon – OR – Hair/Nail/Skin/About with categories under each one. I can only have one section and category per article, and all of the sudden I feel limited. I am still mulling this one over
    • Information overload – I found several conflicting opinions for modules and extensions, but basically chose the least costly solution. I also found several packages that didn’t have a good demo to help decide if I wanted the extension or module.
    • Loving the costly software – cost me hours trying to find something similar that did not cost anything.
    • Free images – again, very time consuming searches reading through all of the possible costs. I am thinking that my own pictures are the only way to go with a client, but need pictures to use now for homework and client suggestions.
    • Installing modules – my gallery module has another component that the author highly suggests using. I downloaded both the module and component but am very grateful that the author has a lot of good documentation and step by step instructions for setting these up and some instructions for personalizing them. I still have to do a lot of work with personalizing, setting colors and borders – but definately wish there was a second rating for ease of installation. Another problem was uploading pictures to the gallery – I used my localhost install to try out many parameter changes and explore the options. The steps I eventually figured out (from the documentation and my own trial and error) after installation:
      • Module Manager>Image Flow>Enable – change Position Type to imageflow (need to use a position value that is unique to the ImageFlow module)
      • Article Manager >New>show on front page – added in main content area the call for the gallery {loadmodule imageflow} (here is where I had to deal with the TinyMCE/Html editor switch described below in WYSIWYG observations) then went to Extension>Plugin Manager>to make sure Content-Load Module was enabled so that the call would work
      • Parameters – I needed a path to the images, started by using the sample in the module, but returned several times to this step to test images from a directory and/or from a path (learned that I don’t need the entire url path name)
      • Images – I checked article>image (at the bottom of the content panel) to make a new folder and upload images to use – had to go back to my localhost install to test this; made a new folder for images in xampp/htdocs/joomla/images/stories/Hair_styles which gave me a new path to place later in the Parameters – xampp/htdocs/images/stories/ – (I had been testing the path /images/stories/food because I eventually deduced my Hair_styles images were too large). I reduced the quilt images I wanted to 300px wide – and tested different lengths with each image saved for web devices. I moved to Media Manager>Stories folder and made a new folder Quilts – path is /home/johowdyc/public_html/joomla/images/stories/Quilts, returned to Extensions>Module Manager>Image flow to change parameter /images/stories/Quilts and also edit the image stack size to include more than 4 images. I kept the demo css file used for samples, feeling that will be another excursion down the road. When all of this still didn’t show my new images, I realized I needed to select BOTH path options – directory and file in Parameters to show the program where to load images (another humbler!).
    • Installing Modules I am still testing on the localhost – slideout menu module
      • Install module Admin>Extensions>Install>Browse and upload zip file Error – (J::Folder could not delete warning after successful install) – with online forum research I found a list of all things that cause J::Folder errors and deduced that this was caused since I installed the folder with a different user name than I had created for the database – the program still works fine. To be certain, however, I checked Extensions>ModuleManager>Site tab>New>select Slide Menu from radio buttons>Next and found slide menu under Module Manager.
      • Setting parameters – lots of time spent trying to figure out how it worked. I tried setting slide left to right, and showing arrows to indicate secondary menus (that still need CSS styling). The title of the slide menu takes the place of the template Main Menu….I was able to disable the slide menu title, but then the template original Main Menu disappeared. I was able to use Firebug to find the first div before slidemenu div and add a h3 headerMain Menu and it worked, but still trying to figure out the order to style this list within the template divs.
      • Global Parameters set on this module do not seem to work where I assumed they would. For instance the Arrow image indicating a secondary list does not show on all pages, and the Arrow image does not show on the parent menu located in both sidebar and/or primary navigation – only on home page sidebar.
      • Lots of CSS and XHTML work needed for me to be happy with this one, but it does slide out…at least!
  2. Installing extensions – finding where the files exist and what can be edited was the first challenge I faced. Elaine and Justin helped me understand the file system a bit more, as well as working with Firebug to testdrive the changes on my localhost.
  3. How you found the answers. Was it Google? the forums? IRC? Lynda?
    • IRC – I signed up on freenode/Joomla, and the first sentence was a request for changing the color of the anchor underline in CSS. I answered something! One more person jumped in with another response, and I posted a W3C link for the original requester. I received no thanks, but was so jazzed that I KNEW something to help someone! That made me brave enough to ask for opinions – just out there to no one in particular. I asked what RSS feed and feedback forms were liked. I jotted down responses from 2, somehow mentioned Cerro Coso and one person from England thought that learning from this class was ‘coolies’. I had to run an errand and was just able to chat for a few minutes, so I bookmarked the responses to look at later. I was halfway down the road when I realized that one of my respondants was the author of tutorials! I had a tutorial author on, and he was so helpful I wished I had stayed longer to ask MORE. From this conversation I found some sound advice, observations, and also the site that this Joomla IRC maintains online. I also know where to find these guys again – I had copy/pasted some of the conversation in Notepad. It was interesting – they understood that I wanted to make ‘pretty’ forms, and not generic forms so described how they took the component code (copy/paste) and just changed it a bit to include their css or images. I didn’t have time to get specific details, but I understood the tactic/process and that gave me more confidence.
    • Search – Online Google and Yahoo search engines for the modules I wanted, especially for slideshows – images – galleries; Joomla Forum searches for observations on some of the modules I am considering. I have described some of my forum help above in challenges.
    • Tutorials – I cannot say enough for the online tutorials because they all have a way of saying the same thing a little differently. For example, I UNDERSTOOD ‘instance’ of a poll when placing a new poll on the website, where before I couldn’t figure out why I had POLL enabled, and nothing showed…nothing to draw a menu to – but after Photoshop and Flash, one tutorial used ‘instance’ and that made sense to me.
    • Lynda – these are great tutorials, but I must review them again. Last summer I ran through all 3 of these videos, but concentrated on what I needed to do instead of concentrating on the mechanism. This time around I am learning more from the same videos.
  4. Share your thoughts on using WYSIWYG editors; the good, the bad, and the ugly
    • Stripping code – I installed a gallery module, and to call this I had to type {loadposition imageflow} outside of the paragraph tag. Everytime I did this in either TinyMCE or HTML mode, Joomla would throw thetags around the call and would gave me a HTML validation error. I had to go back to the Site>User Manager> (Under Parameters)User Editor>None to temporarily reset this so Joomla wouldn’t ‘override’ me. This worked!
    • HTML – I find myself automatically going to the html editor even though I have the option. It just seems quicker than dealing with some extraneous code – such as font and span tags that Joomla likes to sporadically enter when you least expect it.
    • Programs to help insert JavaScript – I am considering these, but will see how turning the TinyMCE editor on and off works first.
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6 Comments leave one →
  1. solidbluedesigns permalink
    September 24, 2009 12:39 pm

    Nancy,

    I know how frustrated you might be. Joomla has it’s own language. Joomla was the first CMS that I used. What I dislike is the organization of the admin panel. WordPress is direct and well organized. Joomla has too many layers to peel through and each layer, like an onion, brings little tears to my dry eyes. I do not know why I would be peeling layers of an onion, unless it was a bloomin onion at Outback Steakhouse, but I think that you get the analogy. Man that made me hungry.

  2. nancy13joomla permalink*
    September 24, 2009 1:30 pm

    LOL! The admin panel does have one closing down one thing to get to another – and – you cannot always hit ‘back’ in lieu of ‘Close’ or they claim it freezes up. Now I have to either get a STEAK or CHOCOLATE….gee…!! Thanks for the visual – onion peels – tears – and this is just week 5….. :{
    BTW – did you see the blogroll that wordpress found for Possibly related posts: (automatically generated)“When Nuts are good for you”???! Where do they come up with this stuff???

    • solidbluedesigns permalink
      September 24, 2009 3:32 pm

      Nancy,

      I turned the related posts functions off on my blog. You must be going nuts.

      • nancy13joomla permalink*
        September 24, 2009 3:34 pm

        HAHA! THAT’s sooooo true! Intuitive computer!

  3. mynameisdp permalink
    September 28, 2009 8:00 pm

    Nancy I know how you are feeling. Joomla is a new world of it’s own and it is very easy to get overwhelmed.

    I have tested at least a dozen extensions over the last week, and it seemed that everything had a little bit of what I needed but not a whole package solution. My main problem I found is that I need a CCK(Content Construction Kit) and most of the options are very expensive. I tried out K2, but wasn’t impressed with the documentation on it and the “tutorials”. I fell in love with ZOO from Yootheme.com. Like I said though it is expensive.

    Joomla seems to be built around doing Magazine’s, as one might assume through the language of the Admin panel and the default layouts of pages.

    While it is nice that Joomla is completely free, when you actually dive into it, it can get pretty costly with all the commercial extensions.

    • Nancy Kotsifakis permalink*
      September 29, 2009 6:41 am

      David, did you try jSeblod? I will check into ZOO, and JCE…I hadn’t started on CCK’s yet….and it looks like I will be running down the list like you have. Thanks for the encouragement!

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