Fotis

Fotis

26 09 2010
A few comments on the newly released mockups for the redesigned joomla.org coming soon...

The frontpage of the site is missing many things. Let's start from top to bottom...

The slideshow navigation may be confused with the actual content being on top. A better front/back control would fix that. Also, titles in "italic" is really too much. The font is just fine to display "normally".

Moreover, it's missing important elements for newbie users and not only.

First, it's missing an "about" block. What is Joomla in short? If I were a newbie I'd have no idea what this site is about.

Newbies should also see a block with resources like: "New to Joomla Get started" and a list of things to do (what Joomla is, read the intro guide, how to install, where to seek help etc.).

There should also be only one block for news/announcements. Having stories dating a month back in your frontpage is not that good.

It's also missing links/buttons to the social channels Joomla has a presence on like Twitter, Facebook, Flickr etc. A block with the latest official Tweets would not hurt too.

A block with a few screenshots would also be good to quickly show users of other CMSs what Joomla looks like, as it's one of those CMSs with a distinct backend and not one that mixes frontend/backend all in the same place (cough Drupal).

We have a great video for Joomla, called Joomla-la-la. It would be uber cool to have it there. Shows visitors that there are dedicated and fun people involved in this community. We're serious at what we do, but we're not M$ serious.

It would also be helpful to have a random showcase of sites built with Joomla. That could be a feed from the featured picks in the Joomla Showcase site.

As you can see, there are many things to add in the frontpage. The joomla.org redesign team could do that in several ways, without sacrificing height (e.g. using tabs or sliding panels).

Oh, and btw: the inner page/Forum page has the "active" menu wrong ;)

What do you think?

(this post was submitted as a comment to the joomla.org post as well, slightly modified...)

10 05 2010
There have been endless discussions around how Joomla is developed and maintained. One thing is clear though: development is quite slow and new significant features for the end user have not yet been introduced since the Mambo days... It's one of the reasons we decided to build K2, so we could introduce more modern and popular features into Joomla now.
12 04 2010
Let's get practical.

What does Joomla 1.6 bring to the average Joomla user? In practical terms: not much

In reality it introduces a troublesome ACL, enhancements to the core of 1.5 with the addition of the jXtended libraries (already available for 1.5), there are framework changes that do make the extension of forms easier in the backend (but this is something do-able even now with some PHP, no biggie) and some tidbits here and there. Oh, not to forget! The admin theme is now blue-ish.

Meanwhile WordPress and Drupal show significant signs of improvement and at least indicate that the people behind them take the future of their CMS very seriously. Although I don't generally agree with their marketing model, they're doing one hell of a job "distracting" people to them, when Joomla is far superior "by design" from these CMSs ladies and gentlemen. Just try developing your first plugin, module or whatever in Drupal or WordPress! Ha!

Back to the Joomla world, what's the status of 1.6? Well, let's just say it's possibly not coming in 2010. There are many things that simply cannot move forward for many reasons:

  • too much bureaucracy?
  • lack of professional involvement to stir goals and development
  • boredom
  • lack of money to support development

There may be more and -don't get me wrong- they are valid reasons, cause, hey, it's not a perfect world.

"So what's your point?" you may ask...

My point is this: forget about Joomla 1.6. Move on to Joomla 2.0.

How do we do that? We take 1.5 and we supercharge it:

  • separate components into standalone applications and minimize dependance between components and the core of Joomla
  • remove all the garbage (weblinks, newsfeeds, polls etc.)
  • introduce the concept of "installation profiles", e.g. install Joomla from scratch to use as a blog or portal or whatever you want. Make it easy for professional integrators and template designers to pack websites easily. It's no biggie. This can lead to different "sample data" packages and content setups.
  • improve the current framework in very specific points. Fix any bugs (e.g. modules not being able to attach stuff to the <head> of the document when the cache is on"
  • improve performance. The work is there. Klas has pointed out the weaknesses of the current caching layer. Add his fixes in and move on. Next stop will be to better handle application load (and server load) when we have cases where users need to be logged in and therefore the cache cannot work. Maybe a mechanism to select which elements to cache or a mechanism similar to what Ning uses: Cache everything and attach some query strings to certain user-interaction related links so that the application fetches fresh content. This is a simple, tried and tested way.
  • Create a unified installer for everything. Use the concept of the manifest.xml file to install 1,2,3 or 12 extensions at a time. That way you can install a plugin and 2 accompanying modules without telling the user to install them separately or write a component to act as the intermediate.
  • Forget com_content. Want more? Use K2 for core content. It's completely separated from the core yet 100% tied to the framework. It doesn't suck with menu item ids. It's veeery familiar to com_content. This will boost 1.5's features to 2.0-ish and slap Drupal and WordPress in the face. Think comments and tags and basic content ACL is difficult? Come on? It's all about decision making.
  • Internationalization: include the excellent "unicode slugs" plugin from Jean-Marie Simonet to create unicode capable URLs. It's here already and it's free under GPL.
  • Extend the default "content elements" for all extensions so that less experienced devs can create a simple plugin that has a "content category" selector which doesn't suck.
  • Improve the media manager a bit with the addition of more actions. Upload and delete is not enough.
  • Add a new admin template that just doesn't suck. There are many people out there that have fresh ideas and can significantly help. Sticking to the same Mambo-like pattern just doesn't cut it anymore.
  • Make all Joomla 1.5 extensions and templates MVC capable so that template devs can rip the thing out and create amazing templates both for the frontend and the backend.

There are more to be added of course and I got a whole list for that, but these are the most important perhaps.

The key word here of course is "initiative". I believe that software development is like real life relationships. If you drag the thing over and over it will eventually lead to a break up. You have to be able to transform when circumstances demand.

What are your thoughts?

P.S. For those trying to read "between the lines", no, I'm not talking about a fork of Joomla I'm talking about advancing Joomla and how I'd like to see things for v2.0. Jeez...

16 03 2010

This is a guide to save you from banging your head against a wall, in case you ever want to get PHP talk with Ingres on a CentOS machine.

After hours of searching around and not finding not one damn proper guide, I decided to just write one down (after much trial and error).

What we wanna do is basically query an Ingres database through a CentOS based LAMP server (which runs WHM/CPanel too). So we need to install (unfortunately) the Ingres Community Database (as the PECL Ingres package seems to require it to be installed) and of course we need to install PHP's package for Ingres (PECL Ingres) so we can query an Ingres database from PHP. Still with me?

Let's get started...

1. Install Ingres and PHP/Ingres support on CentOS:

Install Ingres DB Community Edition first as it's obviously required by PECL's Ingres package. Here we install the related RPM for a 32-bit CentOS machine. The process is the same for 64-bit, the file is just different. Sign up on ingres.com for a free account and go to http://www.ingres.com/downloads/ingres-database.php to download the right release. Ingres.com is passing the download link from some script, so if you wanna pinpoint the URL and not download the file to your PC, then upload onto your server, you can simply right-click on the download manager in Firefox and copy the "link location". This will give you the URL where the actual file of the Ingres db relies on the ingres.com site, so you can use "wget". In this case, the path I got was something like "http://98.129.177.132/~GqxCOi/ingres-10.0.0-119-NPTL-gpl-pc-linux-i386.tgz". Don't try this link in particular as it may not work when you read this...

You obviously need root access to the server:

# cd /usr/src
# wget http://98.129.177.132/~GqxCOi/ingres-10.0.0-119-NPTL-gpl-pc-linux-i386.tgz
# tar -zxvf ingres-10.0.0-119-NPTL-gpl-pc-linux-i386.tgz
# cd ingres-10.0.0-119-NPTL-gpl-pc-linux-i386
# sh ingres_express_install.sh

This process will install Ingres in /opt/Ingres/IngresII/

2. Install the PECL Ingres package for PHP.

Using "pecl install ingres" will simply NOT work. So we do it the old-fashioned way. Grab the latest package here: http://pecl.php.net/package/ingres and then do the following:

# cd /usr/src
# wget http://pecl.php.net/get/ingres-2.2.2.tgz
# tar -zxvf ingres-2.2.2.tgz
# cd ingres-2.2.2
# phpize
# ./configure --with-ingres=/opt/Ingres/IngresII
# make
# make install

This process will install the PECL Ingres package for PHP.

We need a couple more things, before we get started.

We need to declare some system variables in Apache. If you use WHM/CPanel, go to Main >> Service Configuration >> Apache Configuration >> Include Editor and choose to edit the "Pre Main Include" file. Add the following 2 lines:

SetEnv II_SYSTEM /opt/Ingres/IngresII
SetEnv LD_LIBRARY_PATH /opt/Ingres/IngresII/ingres/lib

If you don't use Cpanel, just paste these lines into your httpd.conf file.

Now locate the WHM/CPanel php.ini file at /usr/local/lib/php.ini (if you don't use WHM/Cpanel it's probably located in /usr/lib/php.ini). Find the line "; Directory in which the loadable extensions (modules) reside." and right after that add:

extension = "ingres.so"

This will make sure the related PHP extension for Ingres support is loaded by PHP.

That's it.

Go to your "public_html" folder (or any other folder) and test if you got Ingres support for PHP installed properly. We'll use a dummy connection file, so get the code below:

<?php
$link = ingres_connect("database", "user", "password")  or die("Could not connect: " . ingres_error($link));
echo "Connected successfully";
?>

…and save this as "ingres.php". Now visit this file from your browser and if you get a "Warning: ingres_connect()..." then it means Ingress support for PHP is installed properly!

Enjoy!

01 03 2010

Google AJAX Libraries API

Here's an easy trick to replace the built-in Mootools library that comes in Joomla 1.5 with a compressed copy from Google AJAX Libraries API:

<!-- The following code goes into your template's index.php <head> tags, right before the <jdoc:include type="head" /> code block --><?php// Replace Mootools in Joomla with a compressed copy from Google AJAX Libraries API$document =&JFactory::getDocument();unset($document->_scripts[$this->baseurl . '/media/system/js/mootools.js']);?><script type="text/javascript" src="http://www.google.com/jsapi"></script><script type="text/javascript">google.load("mootools", "1.1.2");</script>

There are 2 speed benefits by following this approach:

  1. We load a compressed copy of Mootools, so from around 73kb it drops to 18kb!
  2. We load Mootools from Google, thus our browser can simultaneously (in parallel) download Mootools along with the rest of our site's content.

It's a simple & easy trick we use on all our web projects, big or small. ;)

17 12 2009
  1. Establish naming conventions. Do not assume you'll always be the one coding for a particular site. Never use generic names for classes, IDs and form names in your code like “comment” or “article”. Someone else may do so too, so you can kiss your app’s functionality bye-bye!
  2. Avoid inline CSS like the plague.
  3. Try to squeeze as much CSS code as possible into one file. Less CSS files means faster loading of your site's design on the browser.
  4. Avoid placing UI images inside your HTML code. UI images belong to given UI templates (home, category lists, product catalog, article etc.) and therefore are loaded on every page request. Placing such images as "background images" in your CSS file allows the browser to cache them the first time it renders them, which means your site will load faster on subsequent requests for your visitors.
  5. Avoid inline JavaScript. Use CSS IDs or classes to attache JavaScript behaviour where necessary.
  6. Try to squeeze as much JavaScript code as possible into one file
  7. Don’t execute JavaScript code when not needed! E.g. if you apply behaviour to a certain block of code and this block of code does not exist on all your pages, make sure you check if this block of code exists by using a simple check for the block's container ID or class. You can do that pretty easily with jQuery or Mootools these days.
  8. Avoid inline CSS inside your JavaScript code. Stick to classes and IDs. Don’t inject too much HTML markup if possible. Try to alter the behaviour of your app by adding/removing CSS classes/IDs. Avoid hardcoded language strings inside JS code if you plan to make your site multilingual in the near future.
  9. If you code on PHP, check out the Tidy library. Enable it when you can as it will easily point out (and fix) bad markup in your HTML.
  10. For God’s sake use an open source CMS, don’t re-invent the wheel, make it possible to contribute back. Joomla, Drupal, Wordpress are enterprise class CMSs to get started with and some of the most popular websites in the world are powered by these open source CMSs.
09 12 2009

I was recently looking for a clean solution to prevent the display of module positions on gazzetta.gr - the 2nd most high traffic Joomla website, after joomla.org.

The first thing that came to mind was the htaccess trick I had spotted on the Joomla forums here: http://forum.joomla.org/viewtopic.php?p=1887090#p1887090

Thing is, this rule does not work if you have SEF on and you’re in some inside page.

So I just wrote a simple solution which is PHP based and you can include right at the top of your Joomla template for ease of maintenance (template designers can use this too as an XML option ;) )…

Make sure the following code goes at the very top of your template's index.php file, but within <?php and ?> tags:

// Properly prevent ?tp=1 module position exposure on Joomla sites using PHP only$currentURL = explode('?',substr(JURI::base(),0,-1).$_SERVER['REQUEST_URI']);if($_GET['tp']) header('Location: '.$currentURL[0]);

Check it out here

UPDATE: There seems to be a Joomla API solution for that. Thanks to Cory Webb for letting me know. Both solution follow...

JRequest::setVar('tp',0);
05 10 2012
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26 07 2012

Disqus Comments (for Joomla) integrates the Disqus comments system & service into any Joomla based website. Disqus (pronounced 'discuss') is a service and tool for web comments and discussions - currently the most popular comments-as-a-service provider worldwide. It makes commenting easier and more interactive, while connecting websites and commenters across a thriving discussion community.

12 07 2012

simpleimagegallerypro_300x88_24.pngNEW VERSION 3.6 released in January 2019!

Adding image galleries inside your Joomla articles has never been easier!

Using the "Simple Image Gallery PRO" extension from JoomlaWorks you can quickly display a folder of images on your server as a stylish image gallery within any Joomla article, K2 item, Virtuemart or HikaShop product and any other Joomla extension that loads the Joomla WYSIWYG editor (TinyMCE, JCE, JCK Editor etc.).

The process is dead simple. You just click the "Simple Image Gallery PRO" editor plugin button located under any WYSIWYG editor box, anywhere in Joomla and you can easily select an image folder to present as an image gallery on your site. Don't have images uploaded yet? You can just drag and drop images in the extension's built-in uploader and batch upload images, one by one, without overloading your server or requiring high memory limits from PHP. Then add captions using the intuitive interface, save and simply select to add inside your Joomla content.

The "Simple Image Gallery PRO" editor plugin will insert a Joomla plugin snippet for every image gallery (something like { gallery}mygallery:200:140:0:2{/gallery} inside the editor content) and then this snippet will "automagically" present as an image gallery, in a stylish thumbnail grid (or slideshow) with "lightbox" popups to showcase the original images, when users click on the thumbnails!

"Simple Image Gallery PRO" is the best Joomla gallery system because a) it's easy to use & manage, b) it allows you to embed image galleries right where your content is (and not redirect your visitors to some other "gallery" section!), c) it offers multiple layouts/templates to present your image gallery and d) it supports the best popup (lightbox/modal) engines to display the original images.

Check out the demo we prepared, showcasing multiple galleries with different layouts on the same page.