Extensions: One of the great aspects of Joomla is the availability of many excellent components, modules and plug-ins. The challenge in many ways, however, is to find extensions you like and need. We have outlined below the free extensions used for the site.
Make sure you always go through the JED (the Joomla Extension Depository) when you look for extensions! On our Joomla educational site, you can find more information about Joomla tips and tricks.
Although we have tried to minimize the number of extensions, the following have been installed to provide additional functionality to the site:
IE8/IE7 Compatibility: Today (July 14, 2009), we were given IE8 as part of our automatic Windows update and of course we direcltly noticed issues with our site. Suddenly, the SectionEx component did not work correctly - So, we have installed this plugin to automatically activate Internet Explorer 8 Compatibility View. Visitors who use IE8 browser will now see our web site without display problems although it isn't optimized for Internet Explorer 8.
File Management: We have used Docman as the document repository. It is a user friendly component with many interesting plug-ins, components and excellent support forums. We have used the following docman plug-ins, components and modules:
The Doclink Plug-in: When you write an article, you may want to include a direct link to a document that is in the docman repository. With this plugin, you can create links to documents that are in the docman system. The plugin adds an additional button under the editor (like you have a button for the read more function).
The Docman Catdown Module: This module shows you all files from a category in the article. Modules can be given a position in Joomla. Often, people use the position left to show a module on their websites. You can also incluse modules in your articles. For this, we use the “loadposition” tag to show the list of documents in an article.
The Mjaztools Autopopulate Component: To upload many documents at once, you really should use this component. This was especially useful when we populated the website. You can define access levels and categories for multiple documents at once - a real time saver for those who use Joomla as a repository like we do on www.developmentwork.net.
The Latest Downloaded and Most Downloaded Modules: The modules show the latest and most frequently downloaded documents that are in the Docman repository.
Docman jDMTree 1.5: This module shows a list of defined Categories, Sub Categories and Documents in a tree for Joomla 1.5. It is only used on the download page of the website.
We did not use the bot_docman_search plug-in. Instead, we are using the Customproperties component for the website’s search function - see below for more info.
The Interactive Map: There are many extensions available for the Google map API, but they often look the same. amMap is an interactive flash map creation software. We use this tool to show locations of assignments. You can also use it to show your offices, routes of your journeys, create your distributor map, etc. Photos or illustrations can be used instead of maps, so you can make different presentations, e-learning tools and more. Were are using YOS amMap: a Joomla extension which integrates almost all amMap features, but we will most likely use direct html for using amMap maps in the future since the extension is no longer available in the JED.
JCE Editor - An advanced, configurable WYSIWYG editor for Joomla! based on Moxiecode's TinyMCE. Includes advanced Image/Media, File and Link handling, plugin support, and an Administration interface for editor configuration. I use it for example to link urls to images in articles. I tried the readmoreext1.5 plugin that does this automatically, but it appears not to work for articles listed when you use Section-Ex as we do for this site.
Make sure that you enable the editor in the "Global Configuration" and in the "user manager" for each user that wants this editor for your site.
BIGSHOT Google Analytics - This component allows us to follow traffic to the site. It is amazing how much information is available once you use Analytics. This plug-in is very useful and as with all other extension on www.developmentwork.net, it is for free. Just make sure you sign up with Google for a web-ID (also for free and really easy to do), enter the web ID in the plug-in and activate the plug-in.
Linking Urls: When we started with Joomla, we could not believe that you cannot link to other articles in articles. The “Linkr” component and button plugin are installed for the website to make it possible. We have used the component for the article on project management tools together with Xtypo to mimic an image menu.
Xtypo: This is used to style some articles with CSS without the need to understand CSS. This article, for example, is using the Xtypo plug in.
Photo Galleries: We were particularly interested in a gallery that generates thumbnails automatically with a nice shadow and border. We finally ended up with the free version of Simple Image Gallery because of the quality of thumbnails and the limited number of pictures we wanted to show on the site. We would have used phocagallery for larger photo repositories.
Display All Tutorials: Phoca documentation is used for the site to display all articless. The component automatically generates the map - all you need to do is to link it to a menu.
SiteMap: Xmap is used as our sitemap. Sitemaps generally are important for search engine optimization and provide your visitors easy access to your site. The component automatically generates the map - all you need to do is to link it to a menu.
Section-Ex: This component is also used to provide visitors an overview of content, for example, the list of publications and FAQs. It is an extremely powerful component and should be part of the Joomla core.
Feedback: The joomlacomment component is used to give visitors the opportunity to leave comments on the site. We figured that it would be nice for students to leave a note on the site.
Tabs and slides: For a few larger articles in the section on projects, we used a simple but very easy to use plugin by joomlaworks.
Template: The free version of JSN Epic 2.0 by Joomlashine was used for a while for this website (but we could no longer resist the temptation to buy the pro version. The free version, like the pro version, gives you a lot of flexibility to adjust the layout of your template. In our opinion, this is the best free template available for Joomla at the moment. The template has many module positions and gives your site a professional look. We have been searching the web for similar templates, but have not found one yet that is for free. So, if you know of one, please let us know.
Backups: We recommend that you do not solely rely on the backups of your host. We have installed Lazybackup so we get weekly updates from the system by email with a copy of the database. Joomlapack has been installed because it creates a nice zip file of all docs and directories.
References to Other Articles: For this, we use RandomContent - a plug-in to show related articles below the page the following test: “You may also be interested in these articles:” You can also use modules available in the JED for this purpose and place them in template positions.
SEO: For search engine optimization, we looked for something that would automatically enter keywords and text in the metadata files. For metadata the “SEO Simple – metadata” extension is used. We also have activated the SEF function in Joomla (in global configuration), so Google indexes our site even better. Please make sure that you follow the instructions from your host - for our site, we had to remane the htaccess file for example.
Mass Content: An important component when you develop a new website. With the component, you can easily write multiple articles in the back end saving you hours of extra work.
Please click here to see a forum discussion on the technical aspects of this site.
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