Ability to create custom 404 pages as content items
Personaly I don't think this is a good idea. Granted you will add more flexibility, but at the same time you will also add more complexity. I think the first question should not be can we do this, but instead : 'is this really something we want to bother the user with ?'
My answer, I don't think we should. I'll try to explain.
When designing the architecture and UI for 1.5 we divided our users into 4 groups :
Each group has it's specific needs and skills and each uses the system in a different way. Users work with the frontend of the site, administrators have access to the backend and perform management tasks, designers work on a template level and developers work on a code level.
Why is this important ? I believe that the user experience should be specifically targetted towards each group. This also means that the experience for each group should not be mixed with that of another. For example, the system shouldn't offer the possibility for users to make design decisions. Like setting css classes for example, or like being able to change css files, or the actual template. Why ? Because doing so would mean the user needs to understand what css is. Those responsabilities belong to the designer and his preferred tools will be an ftp/ssh client and a decent css and html editor.
This is also why I don't believe that one should be able to edit css files or the template form within the backend But .. I'll hear you think this can be usefull sometimes. I'm not going to argue that. Does it pass the 80/20 test ? I would argue not.
In the case of error pages I would argue that it's not the user/administrators responsability to change them. Bascially a user or administrator shouldn't even need to know what an error page is ... and most users and administrators don't. Try asking one of your friends who know and use Joomla! what a 500, 404, 403 is and what the difference is and see what they say ...
Throwing error pages is the responsability of the system and of the developer designing the code. It's his responsabilty to decide if a 500, 404, 403, ... needs to be thrown.
But what about the look and feel of the error page ? Well, look and feel === design === the designer. So, it's the designer who should match the error page to fit the design of the website.
Conclusion, should we allow the ability to create custom 404 pages as content items ? No, we should not. Should we allow designers to customise the error pages ? Yes ! Can Joomla! 1.5 do that, yes it can.
I rest my case
Johan Janssens - Joomla Co-Founder, Lead Developer of Joomla 1.5 http://www.joomlatools.com
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