Joomla! 1.5 Top Extensions Cookbook review

The Joomla! 1.5 Top Extensions Cookbook is one of Packt Publishing’s cookbook series meaning that it contains recipes. This book contains over 80 different recipes to use extensions to add maps, image galleries, slideshows, audio  and video players, security, forums, shopping cart, guestbook and other functionalities to your site.  Each recipe is a articles with an idea and how to work it out (step by step), just like a regular cookbook.

Joomla! is an open-source award-winning PHP/MySQL based content management system (CMS). Since its available under the GPL license it`s free to download, modify and use it for your website.

This book is written for Joomla! 1.5 users without programming or webdesign knowledge. Basic knowledge of setting it up is recommended.

For basic Joomla! Knowledge I can recommend Joomla! 1.5 Cookbook which I reviewed earlier: Joomla! 1.5 Cookbook review.

Most of the content of this book is also valid for Joomla! 1.6, although not all extensions will work fine. The same counts for users of PHP 5.3.

I’m Ramon van Belzen, a 22 year old webdesigner from Vlissingen, the Netherlands. I’m surfing the web since 1997 and I`ve been programming HTML since 1998. Today I use web technologies like HTML 4, HTML 5, XHTML 1.1, CSS2 / 3, JavaScript, AJAX, jQuery, PHP/MySQL, XML. I currently run over 10 websites, most of them as webmaster and webdesigner. I use WordPress, Joomla! Or  Drupal as the base for my sites.

You can visit my website at www.ramoonus.nl

I have been offered the chance to review this book by Packt.

The book promises to teach you:

  • Implement access control list by creating groups and assigning permissions to groups
  • Create backups that can be restored on any other Joomla! site and relocate a site to another server without any hassle.
  • Add an Ajax contact form with custom fields using AiContactSafe extension and add Ajax search to Joomla! site using PixSearch extension.
  • Import hundreds of users from a CSV file enabling them to log in without registering themselves using UserPort extension
  • Integrate phpBB with Joomla! so that users from phpBB can access Joomla! and vice versa without further registration and by a single login using JFusion extension
  • Send tweets automatically upon publishing articles in Joomla!
  • Add project management functionalities to your Joomla!-based sites and get notified about new contents from time to time (for subscribers)
  • Add attachment to an article in a much easier way using Attachment plugin
  • Build a document repository for Joomla! using DOCMan extension for sharing files through your site or if you want to provide downloads
  • Add a Google Map in content articles to find your place using Google Maps plugin
  • Display PDF documents inside Joomla! content items using Embed PDF plugin
  • Watch your visitors in real-time using JoomlaWatch extension
  • Improve banner ads on your site and add classified ads to Joomla! Site
  • Use Google AdSense with Joomla! contents
  • Preview the page on which you just altered the contents instead of preview button taking you to home page by default

The book is 19 chapters big resulting in more than 400 pages.

The first chapter explains how to setup a blog within Joomla, how to add parts to the backend to quickly categorize items, sticky frontpage items, newsflash and a news slideshow (slider).

Chapter two starts with adding items to your content, starting with Google Maps integration and markers, implementing external RSS content. The chapter ends with integrating SlideShare presentations, Google documents and  PDFs.

Social bookmarking is the topic of chapter three. It starts with adding buttons below your items followed by “follow” buttons to link to your social profiles and linking your twitter account to automatically display new items on your account. It ends with creating newsletters from within Joomla.

Calendars and events are chapter fours content. It begins with an event calendar followed by linking a Google Calendar. Finally is a booking/reservation system for events.

Communicating with visitors is chapter fives content. In the beginning creating a guestbook is explained, followed by commenting systems and it ends with creating a database application for storing the results.

Chapter six is the follow-up of chapter five and explains other communication possibilities than forms, like a chatbox, shoutbox (AJAX), fully featured forum and setting up a private messaging system on your Joomla site.

Groupware and communities are chapters seven content. It begins with adding custom fields to your users profile followed by an adapted login system and it ends with a project management (groupware) environment within Joomla.

Creating photo albums is stuff for the eight chapter. It starts with adding thumbnails in articles, followed by adding photo albums to articles. Next up is adding Flash based photo gallery`s and AJAX based slideshows to pages.

Multimedia like audio and video is chapter nine`s content. The chapter begins with inserting audio and video like you tube movies, videos with Flash and mp3s.

Chapter ten is about building a directory (like the yellow pages, no I’m not talking about the background color of your site). The second part of the chapter is setting up online documentation system and setting up permissions.

Translating your site into multiple languages is chapter elevens content. This chapter starts with installing new languages for Joomla and translating things manually. Next up is let Google Translate do the work, after installing an extension.

Making money out of your site is chapter twelve. It begins with adding banners to pages using an improved advertisement plugin. It`s also possible to use Google AdSense for your sites banners, which of course is also explained.

Next part is adding a shopping system to your Joomla setup with a PayPal checkout system.

Improving your website structure by improved menu`s and navigation is for chapter thirteen. This chapter explains extensions for dropdown, fisheye, flash, quick jump, tree, image and sliding menus. It ends with generating a sitemap.

Styling and design of your website and articles is chapter fourteens content. It begins with content templates, followed by sliders and ending with tabbed content.

Website analytics (using Google Analytics and other extensions) is food for chapter fifteen. It starts with adding Google Analytics to your Joomla set-up. Next is fine-tuning search engine friendly URLs. Next steps include real-time user information and a visitor counter .

Next chapter (number sixteen) is about the core, content indexing and searching. It begins with how to upgrade your Joomla installation to the very latest version. Next step is integration an AJAX search module for improved website usability. Next step is adding tags and terms for your articles and blog posts.

On to chapter seventeen; converting, migrating and bridging as this chapter is called. The chapter begins with exporting all data and contents so it can be imported to other Joomla sites or systems.

The next paragraph (recipe actually) is how to migrate your site from Joomla 1.0 to version 1.5. following this step is how to import and create users from a CSV file. The chapter ends with how to setup a bridge between phpBB 3 and your Joomla site.

Security and access control is chapter eighteens content. It starts with adding a CAPTCHA to the registration form, contact form (you learned earlier how to make this form) and on a password reset form. After this the access control lists are explained. Next recipe is how to audit your site for security purposes. Next step is making an backup of your site followed by how to restore it.

The final chapter of the book (number nineteen) is about improving the administrative side of things. It starts with an extension to improve the generated previews of articles. Next up is setting up a scheduler. Other recipes are custom dashboard icons, installing custom codes and replacing the default editor with the FCKeditor.

After this recipe the fun is over – book finished.

The book explained everything that it promised but more important, a lot more!

By reading and following recipes you are able to get a lot more functions into your Joomla website, making it more interesting for visitors. I don`t think there are more topics to include in this book, at least I cannot think of any.

Was the book clear to me? Yes it was. The pictures illustrated settings and improves the guidance through steps.

One thing was slightly disturbing, one of the first images in the book had some editing which made it look like it was done with paint. Hopefully this will be fixed.

I can recommend this book for everyone who just started with Joomla and wants to do more with his/her website. If you are looking for the basics of Joomla this is not a book for you, you should try the Joomla! 1.5 Cookbook.

More information about the book can be found at its official page www.packtpub.com/joomla-1-5-top-extensions-cookbook/book

On this page you can also buy the book or find a sample chapter to get an idea of the book.

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