Getting Started with Joomla

Getting Started with Joomla can not be done without hitting some pitfalls. We will see how to avoid them.

Above all you must ask whether Joomla is the best CMS for the site you want to build. It goes without saying that if the goal is to create a blog or website of news, Joomla is not the appropriate software.

Joomla has an advantage, it immediately provides the essential services you would expect of a CMS for a web portal. It is easier to use than Drupal that requires extensive configuration for each service on the site.

And its drawback is its rigid structure. Joomla works in a formatted environment, in a system that can not be changed in particular in the structure of categories.
Among other drawbacks, inconsistency interface that works differently in different cases, low documentation, and buggy extensions.

Choose a theme

If your choice is made, the first action after installing the CMS is the choice of a theme other than the default theme that is too recognizable.

Go to Extensions -> Template Manager and select a template as default. Other templates can be installed via Extensions -> Install too.

Choose an editor

Two online editors are preinstalled, including the inevitable Tiny MCE. Inevitable but also very irritating because it changes the source of your post without leaving you any choice, which is in the Joomla philosophy.

First configuration

All options of Joomla are defined from a hierarchical menu, similar to that of a local software. Even the configuration of the database is displayed!

A first crucial choice is between URL rewrite or not by the system.

If you select the mod_rewrite, which is recommended, you must use an FTP client to rename the file htaccess.txt to .htaccess.

Then, go to:

    Control Panel -> Global Configuration -> Site -> SEO Settings (right).

Choose URL aliases for file names made of keywords and mod_rewrite for rewritting bes done at server level.

Multilingual website

For articles in different languages, avoid Joomfish that will make dysfunctions in the CMS. As a general rule it is better to avoid too much extensions because they are tested on a basic configuration, and they destroy each other.

To create a website in several languages, it is better to create directories for each languages (/fr /jp /es etc.) and to install a version of Joomla in each, which poses no problem.

Joomla in a subdirectory

Whether for a multilingual site or not, if you prefer Joomla installed in a subdirectory rather than at the root of the hosting, an additional configuration is required.

The .htaccess must be activated by renaming htaccess.txt to .htaccess as we have said.

The directory name should be indicated in the following rule:

    # RewriteBase /xxx/

Replace xxx with the name of your directory.

Menu of categories

For a menu of categories, you must start by having categories and also have a module for this menu.

Creating categories

  1. Go to Content -> Section Manager.
  2. Click New to add a section.
  3. Go to Content -> Category Manager.
  4. Click New to define a category and assign it to the section.

Adding a menu

Go to Menus -> Menu Manager and click New to add a menu.
Select the menu name, eg Category.

Your menu is now added to the list in Menus.

  1. Click on the name of your menu to add items.
  2. Select a type. In Select Menu Item Type click the section name that you created to open the tree.
  3. Select Category Blog Layout.
    So your sub-menu displays the articles of the category in the same format as the homepage.
  4. Give a title to the item of the category and choose the right category.

The title to be displayed for the menu is the title given in the modules and not the title in the Category Manager Menu!

Create a module

Each menu is a module for Joomla. Go to the manager module (Extensions -> Module Manager) and enable the module to the menu created.

Default home page

Default home page shows the list of recent articles, all categories combined.
You can select a category to the home page from the management menu of categories that you created.

To return to the default global list, select the sub-menu Home as default page.

Remove or change the title of the home page

To change the title go to Menu -> Main Menu -> Home.

Click on Home, open at the right side Parameters (System). Enter the page title to the home page, or to not display it, click on Show Title Page No.

You can do the same for each category pages.

Change the order of menus

To order items from a menu, it's easy with the position number, but to change the order of menus that Joomla assigns without asking your opinion, how?

Go to the module manager and with the arrows, move modules up or down. A global ergonomics very curious, but it works.

No category in URLs

By default, URLs are built with the category name, a number and a list of keywords. If you prefer clean URLs such as Wordpress (properly configured) you must add an extension.

Download the sh404SEF extension (a name impossible to remember, it is in the philosophy of Joomla).
Install it via Extensions -> Install.
A new line will be added to the Components menu, but the extension is not yet activated.

    1. A first configuration is required, go to Components -> sh404SEF.
    2. Click on the blue menu on the right to be in advanced mode
    3. Go to sh404SEF Configuration.
    4. In the Main tab, select Enabled Yes.
    5. Save.
    6. Go to the Advanced tab.
    7. Change the mode Rewriting mode to for .htaccess (you must have renamed htaccess.txt to .htaccess).
    8. Choose a suffix. The default is html, leave it blank if you do not want suffix.
    9. Open the Plugins tab, check Show Category No.
   10. Save.
   11. Open the Language tab
   12. Uncheck Insert Language code in URL -> No.
   13. Save.
   14. Back to Control Panel.
   15. Click on the icon Purge SEF Urls.

Other display options are available that you want to check at your convenience.

Change the interface language

Download the plugin for the chosen language. In the Extensions menu Install.
You can designate the ZIP archive to your hard drive, or a URL on the Web. It will install automatically.
In the Control Panel menu go to Language Manager and select the default language.

Do not display the author or icons

If there is only one author for the site, to have the name on each post may seem unnecessary.
Go to Article Manager and click on Parameters in the icon bar.

To remove the author, select Author name -> hide.

Linkable title

Strangely, from the homepage, you can not click on the titles of articles to display them, this is disabled by default!

As above, go to Article Manager -> Parameters and tick Title linkable.

Tick also Category linkable to click on the categories if they are displayed.


Now 90% of problems encountered by beginning with Joomla are solved and the Joomla forum is at your disposal if you want to expose other problems.
Then it is your responsibility to adapt the theme to customize it and make your site unique ... So good luck.