Joomla! 1.5 Templates Cookbook review

I will be reviewing  the “Joomla! 1.5 Templates Cookbook” by Richard Carter, published by Packt Publishing. This book is about modifying Joomla! 1.5 Templates.

Packt Publishing asked me to review this book since it’s in my line of expertise.

A little about me:
I am Ramon “Ramoonus” van Belzen. A 22 year old web designer (HTML, CSS, microformats, JavaScript, AJAX, jQuery, PHP/MySQL) and hobby programmer (Visual Basic). I’ve been creating webpages since 1997.
I’ve been playing with Joomla! for more than three years now. I currently own no sites which run on Joomla! but I don’t see a reason why I shouldn’t be using it for one of my sites.
You can find my website on

The Joomla! 1.5 Templates Cookbook is one of Packt Publishing’s cookbook series meaning it contains loads of recipes. Each recipe is a small articles/paragraphs with an idea and how to work it out. Just like a regular cookbook.

As the title reveals this book is about Joomla! 1.5 templates. A template is the design which displays the Joomla! site. Without a template no content is displayed, you will only see blank pages.
This book can also be used for the future Joomla! 1.6, which is currently in beta status.

The book is written for Joomla! users who want to change a template. Readers are recommended to have knowledge of (X)HTML and CSS. PHP and Joomla! template design knowledge is useful but not necessary.

The book is made out of nine chapters. Each chapter is a follow-up of the previous chapters.

The first chapter tells you how to choose the default template which is used in the book including how it’s made including the file structure, using the editor and template options. It also includes the first changes to the template like background colour changes, changing the logo and footer.

Next chapter explains how to use a template thumbnail, modify the header and add things like a favicon, use Joomla! template XML files, the use of basic template options and changing the colours of error messages.

Chapter three tells you how to style the search area, customize breadcrumbs, style pagination links, include link-to-top links. The final paragraph in this chapter will tell you how to add a random background image.

The fourth chapter is about custom page templates by using the module Chrome. It contains the styling of error pages and custom offline pages.

Chapter five handles the print style design. A print style CSS is necessary if you want to give users a proper printing functionality on your site. It generates nice, high contrast prints without all the graphical fuzz. It contains the basics of a print CSS and some useful tips and optimalisations while mentioning how to test it.

The sixth chapter is about styling the administrator template. It describes how the template specific XML is made, how to modify the stylesheet, which useful modules you could use and how to add buttons of your own to the admin frontpage.

The next chapter (seven) is all about social media. Have you got a Twitter account? Do your visitor have one as well? Why not integrate it on your site! Most famous websites these days offer the possibility to share the page on sites like Facebook and Reddit. The next paragraph demonstrates how to implement sharing with these (and other) sites by adding a sharing button. The chapter also explains how to integrate YouTube video`s on a page and implement a third party discussion/commenting system; DisQus. And as usual for both items how to style them. The chapter is ended by integrating a Facebook connection box as a widget to the site.

Chapter eight explains how to make proper stylesheets for using mobile devices like the iPhone and BlackBerry by using the MobileJoomla! plugin and custom CSS. The chapter also features some import styling tips.

The next chapter – nine – is about Javascript and includes common used Javascripts and jQuery integration. It mentions tricks like the Internet Explorer PNG fix and a slideshow.

The following chapter – ten – explains how to test and validate the customized template. It also explains how to integrate analytics and fixes some widely used bugfixes. It also explains how to use conditional stylesheets and scripts.

The final chapter – eleven  – explains how to customize pages by using output overrides.

After reading this book you will be able to change the look and feel of your Joomla website`s template without problems. You know how to change most important things and implement handy features like print stylesheets and style third party modules.

I hoped that the book was more Joomla template design from scratch instead of modifying templates.
Will I recommend this book to people who want to modify their template? Yes
Will I recommend this book to people who want to create a template? No, Packt Publishing has better books out there for this job.
The book doesn’t promise to learn template design but says its about template customisation. Therefore I won’t say anything more about it.

I found this book easy to read, I think I’ve read the whole book in three days. The book is meant to be read while in front of your pc, so you can put each paragraph into action.
The pictures in the book are sharp and show you each step including before and after.

After reading the book I don’t feel that I still have questions about Joomla template design.

If you are interested in the book or just want to know more, have a look at it’s site

Written by Richard Carter.

Book published in July 2010, by Packt Publishing (Open Source). 236 pages. Paperback

ISBN13: 9781849511247

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