Since a few weeks we are “finishing” these “little” house in 57, Rue du Pla, Fitou.
The last bit was the lower level. In former times, people lived there. There was a kitchen, a bathroom, a toilet and a spiral staircase to go up. The size of the room is 13 x 3 meter.
We removed everything, rebuild the toilet, built another staircase, and a wall as a separation of the long room. One part of the room will become the place with the washing machine and storage for wine and stuff. The other part will become a garage. We removed the entrance to widen the opening to get the car in. The opening is now 2.15 meter wide. Our Kangoo is 1.86 meter – wish us luck and stay tuned for the photo with the car in the garage :).
whole facade so far
Last week we did the ceiling in the upcoming garage.
The template is one of the most important pieces of a website. It provides the appearance, the design. The combination with relevant content motivates new visitors to stay on your site and explore. Regular visitors and users appreciate being on a site with a beautiful and useful design. Think of other products, for instance. A car needs a good engine and tires but one of the most important reasons for buying one is often the design.
Even if the design is not the main reason, it is often a trigger to contemplate the idea of purchasing and may cause a buyer to consider more tangible reasons. If the design is well-made, people expect the rest to be well-made, too (Figure 1, Figure 2)!
Both of these cars are made for different target groups and they come of course from different car makers in different countries. They are just an an example of different approaches in design.
A few definitions related to the design of your website
I just want to clarify a few terms to sensitize your thinking.
What is design?
The noun design stands for a plan or drawing which shows the function and the lookout of an object, to accomplish particular goals in a particular environment and to satisfy a set of requirements.
The verb “to design”stands for creating a design, in an environment (where the designer operates).
The term design can be used in
art (“almost instinctive”, “built-in”, “natural”, and part of “our sense of ‘rightness’),
engineering (product design of a new car)
production (planning and executing)
processes (business process modeling)
What is color?
Color is the visual perceptual property corresponding in humans to the categories called red, green, blue, and others. Individual colors have a variety of cultural associations such as national colors. There is great diversity in the use of colors and their associations between cultures and even within the same culture in different time periods. HTML colors and CSS colors can have 16 million different values. The combination of Red, Green, and Blue values from 0 to 255, gives more than 16 million different colors (256 x 256 x 256).
BLACK = color HEX #000000 = color RGB rgb(0,0,0)
Several online tools like the one in (Figure 3) can help you to find the right colors for your website project .
Figure 3: Popular Color Combinations – http://www.colorcombos.com/popular-color-combinations
What is page layout?
Page layout is the part of “graphic” design that deals in the arrangement and style treatment of elements (content) on a page. To speak in Joomla terms, it is the arrangement of Joomla modules and the components on predefined templates positions.
A template involves repeated elements visible to the visitors. Using a template to lay out elements usually involves less graphic design skill than that which was required to design the template. Templates are used for minimal modification of background elements and frequent modification (or swapping) of foreground content. Joomla! come with two site- and two administrator templates.
User Interface Design (UI) / User Experience Design (UX)
“User interface design (UI) or user interface engineering is the design of user interfaces for machines and software, such as computers, home appliances, mobile devices, and other electronic devices, with the focus on maximizing the user experience.” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User_interface_design
The connection between both types of design is fluent. A simple but quite good explanation is based on Ketchup bottles. The UI part focusses on the interface of the bottle, the UX part of the experience in the moment of engagement (Figure 4).
Joomla! is only one more tool in the toolbox of a web designer.
A good Joomla template is not only about colors and graphics. The shape and positioning of the content is just as important. The website has to be user-friendly and reliable. Exactly this challenge reminds me of the two cars again.
Web design is still a young profession and it is starting to become an industry.
A web designer often has to deal with low bandwidth, incompatible browsers, inexperienced content editors and other people involved in the process of creating a ‘good’ website.
The creation of a Joomla! website is often a process, in which everyone involved learns a lot.
Good web design is hard work and everyone has to start somewhere!
After having your site up in the language you prefer, most people start tweaking the colors and want to upload e.g. a new logo, even if there is no content so far. Joomla comes with preinstalled templates and so called template styles. A template style is a set of options (color, logo, layout) for a template. The configuration possibilities are depending on the template. Some template have a huge variety of settings and some are quite limited. It is possible to create as many styles as you want and assign them to different pages of your website.
In Joomla a single page is generated by the HTML output of one component, several modules and the template. Each page is accessible via a unique URL. Take the front page as an example. The content component produces the HTML output for the articles in the middle. This screenshot is based on the Joomla Beez Template (Figure 5). The blocks next to the articles are different modules. You can combine the HTML output from one component with the HTML output of any number of modules. Existing modules can also be reused on other pages.
You must know, of course, at which point you can assign modules at all. For this purpose, each template provides so-called positions. In order to see these positions you have to enable the Preview Module Positions switch (Extensions → Template → Options). After that, you can access your website by using the parameter tp=1(http://localhost/index.php?tp=1) or click the Preview link in Extensions → Templates(Figure 6).
You’ll see the emphasized module positions with their names (Figure 7).
In Extensions → Modules you can assign one of these positions to each module. If you need the module at different positions, you may also copy it.
To make things easier for you, Joomla! core comes with two site templates and two administrator templates. You can see a preview in Extensions → Templates → Tab Templates. You can filter between Site and Administrator templates by choosing the location filter (Figure 6 and Figure 8).
Styles offers the possibility to create and use different versions of one template. This is useful if you want to have different templates styles on different pages. A template has a minimum of one style. In this style, configurations can be made depending on the template, such as changing the colors or uploading the header logo. You may set the default style for your site in Extensions → Templates → Styles.
Example: An individual Style
Let’s create an individual style for our website:
Template Colour: #f88638
You can create additional styles by duplicating an existing style. For this example I duplicate the existing protostar style (Figure 9).
A new style appears, the name is protostar – Default (2). We’ll change the name in the next steps. Set it as the default style by clicking the star icon (Figure 10).
Check it and click the Edit Button. Enter the name for the style. In the Advanced tab you can choose colors, upload a logo and a few more parameters (Figure 12, Figure 13)
Each style can be assigned to a menu item (Menus asigment). If you would like a green background on your site when people click on menu item A, for example, and a blue background when they click on menu item B, you can assign the corresponding styles. In my case I have only one menu item and I already marked this style as default style, so it’s not necessary to assign it to a menu item
After saving the style, the website looks different (Figure 14) and because the Protostar template is fully responsive, the website is shown perfectly on a mobile device too (Figure 15).
Create your own template and customize it
A template in Joomla is the base of a style and consists of various files. It’s possible to edit the files of a template online.
BUT! You should NEVER change the source code of a core template. The reason is very simple. Your changed code will be overridden by the next Joomla! update!
It is possible too to copy an existing template, so let’s do that first.
Copy the Protostar template in Extensions → Templates → Protostar Details and Files by clicking the Copy Template button. Give your individual template it a name. I call mine “MyTemplate” (Figure 16).
Beside the new template Joomla creates a new template style too (have a look). It is possible now to work on the new template. You are able to create, delete and edit files (Figure 17).
It’s of course possible to edit the files in an external editor too. The site templates are located in the folder /templates. Each template has it’s own folder. There is now a mytemplate folder too. Under the /templates/systems folder you’ll find the template files to edit the Offline and the Error page templates. The admin templates are located in the folder /administrator/templates.
Overrides are a possibility to change the markup of an extension inside the template. The interesting point is, that your individual template is able to do that. Your template can even rewrite the output of third party extensions. A common use case is an alternative layout for an article in Joomla!.
In the template manager it is possible to create these overrides too.
There are by definition endless possibilities to design something creative. Joomla give you everything you need to build something amazing and hopefully you start to get more curious.
In order to install Joomla! on your local computer, it is necessary to set up your “own internet”, for which you’ll need a browser, a web server, a PHP environment and as well a Joomla supported database system. We call this a solution stack and a client server system. A solution stack is a set of software subsystems or components to make a fully functional Joomla website possible. The solution stack we need consists of
the operating system (Linux, Windows, OSX)
the web server (Apache, IIS)
the database (MySQL, PostgreSQL)
the script language (PHP)
You can build a solution stack on your own machine at home or you can buy or rent it from a hosting company in different “flavours”.
The specific requirements for Joomla 3.5 are described in Table 1.
Since this issue is the same for all PHP-based systems, I would like to look a little closer on that topic.
Installation variants of PHP-based systems
You need all the components mentioned above to install a Joomla! system for yourself. PC, browser, and Internet connection are usually available. There are a number of options for web server, PHP interpreter, and database.
set the system up locally on your PC
set the system up on a server in a company’s Intranet
rent a virtual server from a provider
rent or purchase a server from a provider (with root access)
You can also:
Have the web server and database located on computers that are physically separated from each other.
As mentioned above you can also, of course, use different:
brands of web servers
versions of PHP interpreters
Versions of MySQL databases
And on top of that, you can install and operate all these components on various operating systems.
This freedom in choice of resources can sometimes confuse a layman. Therefore, we will discuss a few typical scenarios.
Local Test Environment
If you are at home or in your office, for example, and want to set up a Joomla! website, you may use any of the following operating systems.
Windows Operating System
For a Windows operating system you can use either of two web servers:
Use the in build Internet Information Server, install PHP, MySQL and configure them or take a pre-configured package (XAMPP), unpack it on your computer, and everything you need is there (http://apachefriends.org).
Linux Operating System
Here it depends on the distribution version you have. All the distributions allow simple installation (with a click of the mouse) of the Apache, PHP, and MySQL packages. At times, depending on distribution, they may already be pre-installed. So you can use the programs contained in the distribution or a preconfigured package (XAMPP); extract it on your computer and everything you need is there (http://apachefriends.org).
Mac OS X Operating System
In Mac OS X operating system, you have a default web server (Apache) in your system that you have to activate, but unfortunately not PHP and no MySQL.
So you can use the installed Apache web server and install the missing software or the pre-configured XAMPP package for Mac OS X. Another complete package by the name of MAMP is also very popular with the Mac OS X environment (http://www.mamp.info).
You have several options here as well.
Rented Virtual Server
You rent a web-space package with database, PHP support, and often also your domain name from a provider. In this case you have a functional environment and you can install your Joomla! into it. Consult your provider as to the version choices (PHP, MySQL). Sometimes providers offer Joomla! pre-installed with various templates. If this is the case, all you have to do is activate Joomla! with a click of the mouse and it is ready for you.
Your Own Server
You rent a server from a provider and install the operating system of your choice. You are the administrator of the system and you can work on it, just like on your PC at home.
Before you venture into the wilderness of the Internet, you should first practice on your local computer. This has the advantage that there are no connection fees, it is very fast, and you can practice at a leisurely pace.
You may even have a small local network at home where you can install Joomla! on one computer and access it from another.
Remember that there are probably more current versions on the respective project sites on the Internet.
This topic is very complex because there is a vast number of providers and an even greater number of installed web server, PHP, MySQL versions and web space management tools. Crunch points during the installation often consist of:
an activated PHP Safe Mode, preventing you to upload files,
‘forbidden’ rewrite paths with the Apache web server because the so-called Apache Rewrite Engine (mod_rewrite) is not activated,
the directory permissions on Linux and OSX, which are set differently than in Windows.
Basically, the easiest way that almost always works, is the following:
Download the current file package from the project website to your home PC and unzip everything into a temporary directory.
Load the unpacked files via FTP on your rented server or to the directory of your local installation. The files must be installed in the public directory. These directories are usually called htdocs, public_html or html. If there already are other installations in that directory, you can specify a subdirectory
If the solution stack is up and running, we call the result a server. The server can be your local computer or any other computer. All the visitors and users of the website are using a browser on their computer to access your Joomla site. We call them clients.
Thanks to the web installer, Joomla! can be installed in only a few minutes. The Joomla! files will be copied to the public document root folder and configured with the Joomla! web installer. Download Joomla! 3.5 from joomla.org (joomla.org/download.html) and unpack the files into your public document root folder of the web server (e.g.: /htdocs). From now on, everything is going really fast because the Joomla! web installer is working for you. Go to URL http://localhost/ or the appropriate URL of your server.
Notice: If something is wrong with your solution stack, the pre installation check helps you to verify whether your server environment is suitable for the installation of Joomla!. As long as you see a red marker, your solution stack is not configured in a proper way and the installer refuses to install Joomla. When using Unix-like Systems (Linux, Mac OS X), you have to pay attention to file permissions. This is particularly important for the file configuration.php. This file will be generated at the end of the installation with your personal values. If the installer can not write in the folder, Joomla! can not be installed. In this case, configure the rights and then click the button repeat check.
Step 1 – Configuration
In the main configuration window you have to describe your site and the administrator user. Furthermore, there is a switch to decide whether your site will be immediately visible for visitors (online) or if it will display a maintenance page (offline). This configuration setting is useful when you install Joomla directly in your live hosting environment (Figure 3).
Step 2 – Database
You can use various database servers with Joomla and you have to decide which database server you want to use and you need to enter your database parameters (Figure 4). In your local server environment you can create any number of databases. In the MAMP package and in Ubuntu Linux, you have a MySQL user with the name root. The user root is the MySQL administrator and can, therefore, do everything in your MySQL system. The password depends on your server environment (no password is needed with XAMPP, with MAMP the password is root too). When you are in a live hosting environment these parameters will be given to you by your provider.
Enter the following values into your local installation:
Host Name: localhost
Password: [only you know that]
Now select the database name. In a productive environment on a database server with a provider, you probably have a fixed quota of databases and the database credentials are predefined. If you have root permission on your database server, you can enter a name of a new database. Joomla! will then create that database. You can select whether the tables of any existing Joomla! installation in this database should be cleared or saved and marked with the prefix bak_. The table prefix is really practical. In front of each table name generated by the web installer, it writes the text that you typed in the appropriate field. As a default, the web installer suggests a randomly created one, like n9y3l_ . This has a simple reason. Sometimes you may only be able to get one MySQL database from your provider. If you want to run two or more Joomla! sites, you have a problem, as the tables do not differ from each other. With the table prefix it is possible to distinguish several tables (client01_ or client02_). Here, you should use the default n9y31_ . The prefix is also used to indicate saved data (bak_), see above.
Step 3 – Finalization
In the third step, Joomla summarizes the configuration settings and asks if you want to install sample data (Figure 5).
In former versions of Joomla it was only possible to install ONE set of sample data. Since Joomla 3.x it is possible to choose of several sample data sets. The “sample data system” can be used to configure a predefined site layout and example content for a weblog (Figure 6), a brochure site (Figure 7), a “Learn Joomla” site with a Joomla tutorial inside (Figure 8) the default site (Figure 9) and a test Joomla site where every possible menu link is activated as a base to test new Joomla releases.
Notice: There are several possibilities in the Installation process. If you want to try all the different versions is easy to install a new Joomla website with the existing files and database. Just keep the installation folder, delete the database and the file configuration.php in the root folder and start over by pointing to
Depending on your needs and your knowledge, you should try the different sample data sets. Unfortunately it’s not possible to switch between the different sample data sets after the installation is finished. It’s also possible to install Joomla without any sample data. The “empty Joomla” is a good start for your website if you already know how to use Joomla. I’m choosing a naked Joomla without any sample data as a base for the next chapters. You’ll be able to understand and follow the chapters without of the pre-installed sample data. So choose the sample data you want to use and click the Install button. Joomla creates the database and configures the site for you (Figure 11).
For security reasons, it’s necessary to remove the installation folder by clicking the Remove installation folder button … BUT WAIT … there is something really nice on the right side of Figure 11.
Joomla in your language
At this stage of the installation you have the possibility to install extra languages. If you plan to have your website in another language than English, click the Extra steps: Install languages button to install one or more additional languages (Figure 12).
Notice: THIS IS AN OPTIONAL EXTRA STEP! It’s not necessary to decide now on the language issue, it is possible to do it later. If you just want to play around with Joomla and you understand English, do it in English and use just one language – it’s easier for beginners. If you are a bit more advanced, start with localization in two or three language. Life gets much easier if you understand these languages! Multilingual websites are the most advanced topic and it’s more about workflow and how to translate the content pieces of the site. So that should be your third step.
Choose the desired languages from the list, in my case i choose Chinese and Russian. Then you have to decide which language is the default language for your website and your administration interface (Figure 13).
The next question is whether you want to active the Joomla! multilingual feature. There is a big difference between the “simple” localization and the “more advanced” multilingual behaviour.
Localization: Localization in our case means that the website is in a different language than English, for example French. In a country like France, most websites are in French because most of the people that live in France speak French. In Switzerland the situation is different. People speak German, French or Italian. Same situation in countries with more than one official language. To create a pure “one language, different to English” site you can choose the NO for the Activate the multilingual feature parameter (localisation).
Multilingual website: A multilingual website means offer your website in more than one language. You translate your content for each language you are offering. One of these languages is the default language which is shown, when a visitor visits your site for the first time. If you want to start with a multilingual website, you can choose YES and the multilingual features of Joomla will be activated.
Congratulations! Joomla! is now installed!
For security reasons, it’s necessary to remove the installation folder by clicking the Remove installation folder button. After the removal of the installation folder it is possible to view the site and to enter the administration area (/administrator). In my case the site looks like in Figure 14.
The Joomla control panel can be accessed by pointing to
A login screen appears (Figure 15) and after a successful login you’ll see the administration area (Figure 16).
As promised last week (Iron Blogger & Joomla) I’ll start to write more about Joomla! The next articles are the chapters of the book I wrote in January 2016 for the upcoming Version 3.5.
Why should I get in contact with Joomla! and what is it all about.
Joomla! is a free system for creating websites. It is an open source project, which, like most open source projects, is constantly in motion. It has been extremely successful for ten years now and is popular with millions of users worldwide. It is easy to install, easy to manage, easy to enhance and very reliable. More and more people around the globe are able to make a living by using Joomla.
The word Joomla! is a derivative of the word Jumla from the African language Swahili and means “all together”. The project Joomla! is the result of a heated discussion between the Mambo Foundation, which was founded in August 2005, and its then-development team. Joomla! is a development of the successful system Mambo. Today Joomla! is used all over the world to power websites of all shapes and sizes. The Joomla! team has organised and reorganised itself throughout the last 10 years to better meet the user demands.
Joomla! Version Strategy
The version strategy of Joomla! changed over the years. Today Joomla! versions numbers are spared by dots: [major].[minor].[patch]. For example, Joomla! 3.5.0 has a major number of 3, a minor number of 5 and a patch number of 0.
Major release (3): A release which increments the major number has a predictable end of life date of two years. After each minor version the two year phase starts again. A major release indicates a break in backward compatibility.
Minor release (5). A release which increments minor number resets the two years lifetime of the major release and indicates the addition of new features or a significant change to existing features.
Patch release (0): A release which increments the patch number has no influence on the end of life date and indicates that bugs have been fixed.
The complete changes in the Joomla! 3.x series can be seen at the projects website
The smart way of Joomla
The Joomla! Project is different from other projects like Drupal or WordPress. The Joomla! project is not backed a company. The only entity that serves the financial and legal interests of the Joomla! project is Open Source Matters, a not-for-profit organisation.
It is possible to build nearly every website you can imagine using Joomla! on your own with your own knowledge spending nothing but your time, but it’s possible too to download extensions like shopping carts to build your desired website in a much shorter time. The existence of this sustainable, flexible and very diverse network of service providers based on a free and open source foundation is unique and an opportunity to every person in the world to use Joomla! as a consumer and/or a producer.
Thousands of companies around the world are developing extensions for Joomla! which you can download in a kind of app store, the Joomla! Extensions Directory. There are free and paid extensions.
Additionally the use of the Joomla! extension directory is free of charge, so the Joomla! project is the base of a vibrant community of consumers and producers of smart software.
This mindset leads to an interesting community of people, involved in the project and who are working somehow together on the project. It is always possible to contribute to the project in the way you are able and willing to.
Websites made with Joomla
All kinds of dynamic websites can be created with Joomla. These websites consists of web pages containing content such as text, images, video and audio. The pages changes or customises themselves frequently and automatically, based on certain criteria. Take the front page as an example. Usually it displays the newest articles automatically on top. As all the sites in the world wide web are based on the same principles websites can be roughly divided in
A blog is a discussion or informational site consisting of articles (posts, blog entries). The most recent articles appears first.
This is an example from Brasil (Figure 1)
The Eiffel Tower
The Eiffel Tower is a wrought iron lattice tower on the Champ de Mars in Paris, France. It is named after the engineer Gustave Eiffel, whose company designed and built the tower. Today they are using Joomla! (Figure 2).
A brochure website include information about a company and its products and services through text, photos, animations, audio/video and interactive menus and navigation (Figure 3)
Electronic commerce sites
A site offering goods and services for online sale and enabling online transactions for such sales (Figure 4).
A website designed specifically for use as a Gallery, these may be an art gallery or photo gallery and of commercial or noncommercial nature (Figure 5).
More than 3,000 government websites around the world are built with Joomla! (Figure 6).
Similar to an information site, but dedicated to dispensing news, politics, and commentary (Figure 7).
Websites about an individual or a small group that contains information or any content that the individual wishes to include (Figure 8).
Peugeot is a French cars brand, part of PSA Peugeot Citroën … and they are using Joomla! (Figure 9).
Did you ever ask yourself for the total number of Websites? There are a lot, but nobody knows the exact answer to that question.
As you may have noticed, most of the example sites are not the big fishes in the world wide web but they fulfil the needs of their creators and their clients. This does not mean, that Joomla is only useful for smaller websites, it just means that most of the websites are made with limited resources on time and budget and for that reason people often build them with open source systems like Joomla, WordPress and Drupal. Bigger websites like Facebook, Flickr, YouTube, Google, Apple, or Microsoft are usually not using one open source content management system for their websites. These companies usually have thousands of developers that create often hundred of websites by selecting and combining all the ideas and solutions available on the market. It is usually not about the technique, it’s more about business models and ideas.
Amateurs vs. Professionals
The above listed websites are created by people that I want to divide in amateurs and professionals.
Amateurs are trying to get around. They usually do not want to know one’s stuff, they are happy if succeeded.
Professionals try to get to the ground of what they are doing to be able to provide solutions which can be optimised over time. They try to transfer knowledge to strengthen others and build their business around the topic.
For Joomla it doesn’t matter whether you are an amateur or a professional. Both can deal with Joomla and often amateurs become professionals over time and professionals start to get more involved to make Joomla CMS and Framework better and better. Time for the first and the last advice in this book!
“Ignore people talking about what you have to do. Focus on moving toward what you like to do instead.”
What are the common parts in all these websites?
Even if the listed example websites are all very different, they have a few things in common:
they are displaying content (text, images, video, audio)
they have individual designs, layouts and colours. Individual doesn’t mean perfect or tasteful or artistic. It just means “individual” 🙂
visitors can interact in some ways with the site. Sometimes they have to create a user account in advance
the common static words are available in different languages, sometimes the content too.
Joomla is the glue
All these websites are based on the ideas of their creators and the almost endless possibilities of the Joomla Content Management System. In this book, I want to cover the common parts of all these websites and some examples of paid and free services to enhance the Joomla core distribution. You’ll be able to create a quite nice looking website on your own after you have read the next chapters.
And it’s up to you, whether you do it in the amateur or in the professional way 🙂