Joomla site creation experience – Part 1

My first encounter with Joomla was as part of migrating an existing client site from their current CMS system called Art72 to Joomla.  The brief from the client was to be able to change content, add a photo and video gallery, have multi-language capabilities and to adjust/add some menus to better reflect the new services offered. The existing CMS package couldn't do what was required without extensive modification and it was also written in German. The solution was to migrate the site to Joomla CMS package and add in extensions for multiple languages, photos and videos, and then update the menu structure as required.

This post will describe my experiences migrating the site and some of the Joomla extensions that I used.

I built a default Joomla site on my local PC under IIS7. I also copied the existing CMS setup from the clients ISP and setup a replica of the client's site on my local PC under IIS7.

Next I created blank ariticles, sections and categories that reflected the existing site structure on my local Joomla site. Once done I was able to cut and paste content from the old system to the new Joomla site. I then created a menu structure (with the new changes requested by the client) and linked the menus to the respective articles. This all took me quite a bit of time as tables were used extensively throughout the original content and needed to be adjusted a bit when copied over to Joomla. I found that the default editor didn't handle the tables very well. Searching around lead me to JCE editor which worked better with tables but also had a few more features than the standard editor. I will be using this for any of my future sites.

Once menu's and content were in place I started looking for a template that I could customize to match the existing colour scheme. I tried quite a number but none suited my needs. In the end I created a new custom template based on the the built in JA PURITY template.

As there were some adverts on the existing site I tried setting up the built in Joomla banner component. That worked reasonably well, but couldn't handle the custom code to rotate the advert pictures every 10 seconds from the existing site. I needed something else and after trying a few advertisement extensions for Joomla I found that RS Banners worked best for me once I got some Javascript banner code from a site called HTMLBasix.

I also needed to add in a photo gallery. Again after testing out a few different one I settled on using CSS Gallery. It's a plugin that can be included within your content by using a simple tags wrapping around a directory name that contains the photos you want to use for the gallery. The frist time the page is browsed to CSS gallery creates the thumbnails and copies of the photos at the required resolution. 

At this stage I wanted to get the client to have a look at what I had done and request any additional changes. I needed to move the site from my desktop PC to my laptop. I found that Akeeba Backup did the job. It creates a zip of the site which you copy across and extract to the new location. With IIS7 I needed to stop the web services first in order to overwrite some locked files. Akeeba creates a modified installation directory as part of the backup process which is used to create and populate the site's database in the new location. It was really straighforward. The only issues I had came later when I had added a substantial amount of video to the site. I will describe what the issue was and my workaround in the next post.

The client liked what I had achieved to that point and also had quite a number of additional requirements & slight corrections that he suggested. More in the next post.