Conceptual overview is needed

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Conceptual overview is needed

Postby progers » Thu Feb 21, 2008 1:56 am


I'm an experienced developer, but am new to CMS and Joomla. I'm trying to "grok" the system to help some design our school web site. There is lots of great material of the form "how to do X", but I'm struggling with the broad overview of the system. For example:

  • What is the problem area that Joomla seeks to cover? When would I use Joomla instead of, say, a pure blogging or forums solution?
  • What is the relationship between templates, menus, modules and sections? That is, how to the major parts of the system interact to create what the user sees? How does a menu item select content?
  • What are the standard mechanisms for displaying section and category content? Said another way, Joomla provides sections and categories. What does Joomla do with these by default? How do I work "with the grain" with them.
  • What is the broad conceptual layout of a page? Evidently there is stuff at the top, the sides and the bottom.
  • What parts of the site design is controlled by the template? Which by module extensions. (For example, suppose I wanted a "My Yahoo"-style display. Where would I look for the right bits?

Some of the questions I've not yet found the answers to include:

  • Can I create a context-sensitive, cascading menu? (That is, one that expands "School Info" to show "Contact", "Directions", "Policies", etc.) If so, how?
  • Can I create more than one front page within a single Joomla installation? (I need one for the school, a second one for the PTA.)
  • How do I control when menus appear? For example, I want the PTA menu to appear on PTA-related pages, but not on school-related pages.

This stuff is probably all second nature to web designers and veteran Joomla users. But, as a newbie, I'm having to read between the lines a bit to figure out this broad overview stuff from existing FAQs, docs and books (unless I'm missing the "good stuff" hidden somewhere!)

Thanks for all your great work!

- Paul

Joomla! Fledgling
Joomla! Fledgling
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Re: Conceptual overview is needed

Postby waterdog » Sun Apr 06, 2008 12:02 pm


Thanks for your post. As a fellow newbie, it sums up my difficulties with Joomla also. I believe one of the stated goals of this CMS is to bring site creation and management to non-developers. With the user documentation so lacking, it is very challenging to figure out how to build a site. I subscribed to your topic in hopes that someone will provide some pointers. Meanwhile, I will be scouring this site trying to find tidbits that will help me gain enough understanding to clone a simple site and build another from start.


Joomla! Apprentice
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Re: Conceptual overview is needed

Postby bsimecek » Tue May 13, 2008 2:34 am

I have been putting together websites for many companies for a few years now using joomla and i have always noticed that all of the documentation (even the user manual) is pointed towards myself as a admin/developer rather than being something based on the end user that only cares about how to submit an article, add weblinks...
End users only care about the hows rather than the why's. Rarely do i ever find a true end user that really can tolerate the why's. When they are interested in the why's, that person is usually the admin in charge of the end users (the person they call for simple problems).

I would recommend the documentation roughly follow the permission structure of joomla...

1 - Developer and Super Admin documentation would cover initial installation, templating, security and coding standards. This would include all of the why's.

2 - Admin documentation would cover primarily the backend user-friendly configuration including menu's, sections, categories, articles, modules, templates, user accounts, etc...

3 - End User documentation would cover the front end - creating and submitting articles, submitting links, logging on and off, changing page content

If the joomla core and each overall addon package (modules and components) came standard with these three levels of documentation, my life would be much easier deploying joomla. I could just combine each section into one document for each level, and everyone would be happy.

Joomla! Fledgling
Joomla! Fledgling
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Re: Conceptual overview is needed

Postby tommyerols » Wed May 14, 2008 2:35 pm

To my meager experience the GROK of Joomla is to understand (know, think, grok) that the menu controls everything. The menus are a variety of things which can display or execute Joomla widgets. Some of those are full blown components which launch applications, like a login box or a documentation librarian. Most display a collection of items in a table form. Finally those items are atomic. A web link. A couple pages of text. Even the blogs are really just lists of separate text items.
A common newbie confusion occurs after installing a cool new component. How to turn it on? First make a menu link to it. Then re-edit that menu link. You often find a dozen options which can now be set. But nothing can happen until it becomes a menu item.
On a technical note, this makes sense. Menu selections execute the PHP to produce a new web page to be inserted in a particular box of the template (HTML <table>) The php is just reading a simple database and displaying a pile of atomic items in some way or another. Thats it. No Joomla is not so smart, but isn't that what is needed?

Joomla! Fledgling
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Re: Conceptual overview is needed

Postby mud » Tue Aug 05, 2008 8:48 am

I just started a website and I am learning joomle/php. The site is an online dating site
Look at this link it has a nice overview of the joomla components (modules components etc.)
I hope this helps

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