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Joomla!: Confusing?

What am I just NOT getting?

5:35 pm on Sep 12, 2012 (gmt 0)

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I am starting to use Joomla!, and I just don't seem to "get it"

Am I the only one to find that it is really difficult to understand how to set things up? I've been working with it for about 10+ hours a week for nearly 6 months, and I'm STILL not understanding several things.

I'm mostly frustrated on the "menu items" vs "categories" vs "modules" etc.

The BIG issue (for me) is trying to figure out "what value/purpose" do 'categories' serve?

Anyone here experiencing the same?

Did any of you ever come up with an "A-HA!" moment?

Am I learning a 'dying' CMS?

(I realize most of this is the (nearly) complete lack of documentation available.)
4:23 am on Sept 14, 2012 (gmt 0)


WebmasterWorld Administrator phranque is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

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menus are used for creating a list or multi-level tree structure for navigation.
categories are a way of organizing articles.
a module is a reusable subset of a page's content that can be assigned to a named position in a template.

maybe this will help...

Understanding sections, categories and articles - Joomla! Documentation:
http://docs.joomla.org/Understanding_sections,_categories_and_articles [docs.joomla.org]
6:09 pm on Sept 14, 2012 (gmt 0)

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Thanks Phranque, but that article is deprecated.

I read it a while ago, but then I discovered it is for version 1.6 and they are up to 2.5.6 now.

It is curious they dropped 'sections', and perhaps that is part of my confusion over 'categories'. It appears there was no real use for 'sections' so they dropped them? I get the same thoughts about 'categories'.

The need for categories seems to elude me.

I can't create an article without assigning it to a category, but if the category isn't there, you have to create a category BEFORE you can create an article? It just seems strange to me. (They even have a category called "uncategorized"?)

It is like the Joomla! CMS is saying,
"...so you want to write an article, ScottM? Well...before you start writing, we need to know what section of the newspaper it is going to appear in...., then we are going to need to know what newspaper is going to publish it before you write anything."

There is just something about Joomla! that seems backwards and it ends up being confusing.

[edited update]:
It now looks like there is an extension (K2) that eliminates categories and article and just calls them "items".
2:57 pm on Sept 18, 2012 (gmt 0)

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WebmasterWorld Administrator travelin_cat is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

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Categories are very useful for some plug-ins/extensions. As an example, many slideshow extensions allow you to show images from certain categories. So if you are selling electronic goods, you can set up categories for articles on cameras, video cameras, televisions, VCR etc. and then choose to only show articles from that category in certain extensions.

Also, it's easy to categorize articles for various other uses. They are by no means necessary, but they can be very helpful in many circumstances. Sections used to be a way to further categorize articles, but apparently it was rarely used. I know I never used them.

You do have to choose a category, but as you pointed out, just use "uncategorized".

As you have noticed, Joomla can be very powerful which at the same time can create confusion.

There is a tremendous amount of documentation at joomla.org and I have found answers for every question I have ever had on their forums.

Finally, you are in no way using a dying CMS, Joomla is second to only Wordpress in installed websites followed by Drupal.
7:45 pm on Sept 18, 2012 (gmt 0)

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My biggest issue with Joomla has been it's utter lack of documentation. However I have been hammering on it for a while and I have come to love the beast I was forced to learn.

Modules are basically widgets. You can make a module that shows things like upcoming news, or featured events, or "quick links". With any module you have the option to place it on all pages, or a selection of pages.

If you install Jumi then you can make a module and point it to a php script which you can make do anything you want. Most components come with a couple modules, but you can always make custom ones. (E.g. a event component usually comes with a "upcoming events" module. But if you don't like it you can create a module and code it to output events using logic and SQL of your own choosing.

Menus are simply navigation items. In your template you can define what position in the template a menu will display, when you add a menu you define what content type you are linking to. Your standard menu will point to an article (AKA webpage). When you create a menu item you must first select the menu type.

A menu of type "single article" will require you to select which article you are linking to.

A menu type of "Upcoming events" will display upcoming events and the "view" for this will come from the event component.

A menu type of "list contacts" will show a listing of contacts from the contact component and the "view" method for this will come from the contacts component.

Anytime you want to override a defaut view you can create an overriding template. There is lots of documentation on this.

***Categories ***
Categories I almost never use. The only time I use them is when I am trying to restrict user workflow. Eg userA can edit a collection of pages (1,2 and 3). userB can edit a different collection of pages (4,5 and 6) I use a separate category for each of the page groups then assign edit permissions based on categories. It is the only use I have found for them but I can see why some site structures would make use of them.

I will echo CAT... Joomla is not dieing, they just need to work on documentation but it is widely adopted and supported.

If you have specific questions I will try to help you.