All posts by Neil Sakac

Joomla site creation experience – Part 2

After meeting with the client I had a list of changes, enhancements and a small amount of new requirements.

For the video gallery I started on using AllVideos & Cinecopa, (which look like good extensions) but just weren't right for my I need. I also tried the AvReloaded extension which I didn't use for the gallery, but used later on when the client requested a video to be added to the front page of the site.

I eventually settled on using the hwdVideoShare extension for the video gallery. It has additional features such as showing popular videos, video upload, search, categories and admin approval of uploads. Only problem I had was that client videos were in MP4 format and the scan function within the import section didn't pick them up (possibly something I wasn't doing correctly). Anyway I worked around it by manually adding the videos.

The client wanted the ability to manage various events which he would run throughout the year. I found that the extension EventList did the job. It provides a simple registration system and good features for the types of event which can be created. You can also categorise events, link them to groups and host events at various locations.

My client also wanted the abylity to send out newsletters to a subscribed list of followers. I found AcyMailing is a good newsletter extension for Joomla. Basic version is free & is all l needed. Lots more features are available in the paid version.

I also needed to add an autostarting looping continuosly looping viedo to the front page. The AvReloaded extension which I had tried out earlier did the job. It's a straighforward process of loading the video into a appropriate directory and then place tags with the video name anywhere in your content that you want to see the video. By adding autostart="true" and repeat="true"} The client supplied the video, but as it was over 20Mb in size I trimmed a smaller size and converted to FLV.

At this stage the site was looking pretty good to me and I had ticked of all off the items that were requested by the client. The page looked a little un-balanced as there was a fair amout of content on the right hand side of the page, but less so on the left. I decided to add a small banner add on the left and found that the default Banners extension which comes with Joomla worked great.


Site is now ready of a final client review before being released to production. I am assuming there won't be much more that needs to be changed, but will see after the meeting.

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.

1st WordPress Site Creation Experience

I first started by creating a WordPress site locally on my Windows 7 PC running Microsoft Internet Information Services (IIS) web server. WordPress install was straight forward as all I needed to do was get into Web Platform Installer within the IIS console and select WordPress from the list of new applications.

Once installed I could browse the localhost and login as Admin for the 1st time. After trying out the default themes and downloading a good few others I settled on using the Atahualpa theme for my site. I found it gave me plenty of customization and configuration options. Enough for my purpose anyway.

I used Contact Form 7 plugin to create a custom form for web site users to send me email's. It's simple but flexible. I also wanted to make sure wouldn't be sent using an automated script so I used Really Simple CAPTCHA plugin which goes along with Contact Form 7.

For adding my social links to the web site I used the Find Me On plugin which gave me exactly what I wanted which was a series of icons and configurable links for most of the social networks that I use. It is also available within the widgets section so I could place them anywhere I want them within the site.

Once I had the basic site setup as I wanted it I needed to move it to my ISP. I setup my ISP domain account for Linux hosting. Created a MySQL database. I copied my site contents to the web root directory and only then realised that the posts and pages were all stored in the database rather than as files within the content. I spent a little while getting to grips with how to dump the contents of my local SQL database. I tried a number of backup and restore plugins from within WordPress. None really did the job for me (at least they didn't seem to with my limited WP migration knowledge). I eventually found ana database administration application called Navicat. It has a free lite version which was all aI really needed. I was able to dump the local WordPress database to an SQL file which I could then upload to my newly created ISP database. That worked a treat.

I then had my first running WordPress site available to the world.

After a little testing I found that as I had initially create the WordPress site on my local PC under IIS that for some reason the permalinks, (which I had configured initially to to avoid the ugly post type links), didn't work on the ISP version of the site. I still haven't found a solution yet apart from using the using the default setting (ugly links).

I will continue to post articles on my experiences with WordPress as I go forward. This is more a personal diary of my experience with WordPress and I am not sure that this would be useful to anyone else.