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FAQ: Why are the admin menus not working or missing ?

Posted: Sat Aug 20, 2005 3:15 am
by DeanMarshall
The Problem: A few users recently have reported problems with Administrative menus either not working or being absent.  Whilst it seems fairly rare, when it is encountered it tends to follow a fresh installation, upgrade or site migration.

Possible Causes:
Often caused by incomplete or corrupted uploads (watch for error during uploads).
Text files (.php, .js, and others) being uploaded in BINARY mode rather than ASCII is another possibility.
Some FTP packages change the case of filenames during transfer - potentially introducing problems.

Re-uploading the files in ASCII format (with filename case changing disabled) should clear the error.

Your browser cache might still foil you. Clear the cache and if using IE restart your PC - don't ask, its just a Microsoft thing! Then give it another try - perhaps try different browsers or even a different PC just to be sure.

If this doesn't solve your problem then try these steps:

1. Does a different browser, or using a different computer alleviate the problems?
If so then you are probably looking at security settings or security software on your PC.

2. Usually, when your admin buttons aren't working it is a javascript error - what browser are you using?

In IE you are looking for a yellow warning triangle in the status bar (bottom of the screen) - double click the triangle, and click to read the error. In Firefox the javascript console, available from the tools menu, will show details of errors.

Find the file and line number that is causing the problem and in your browser enter the full URL of the problem file. This is just to make sure that the files are being served by your server, that their address is correct and that they are complete.

I recently assisted someone through this process only to find a stray .htaccess file was blocking access to the file - checking for the presence of a .htaccess file is not always straightforward as UNIX hides files whose names begin with a dot, as do most FTP packages.

Trying to access the .js file from your browser would quickly identify any problem.  If the file appears as text in your browser - check it is complete. Incomplete files are a sign of errors during FTP OR perhaps an unstable server - how is your server generally? Is it generally reliable.

3. Having noted line numbers earlier, you could then open the file in the normal manner, via ftp or even from your local file system - and look for the line(s) in question in a decent text editor / programmer's file editor / IDE. The error message and the code on the line in question will give a clue as to the cause of the problem.

A final outside chance
Have you checked that when you access your site the URL you use matches the 'live site' setting in configuration.php - there have been issues caused by a mismatch between the two - mainly the javascript behind WYSIWYG editors, but who knows.  Essentially check that if the live site variable contains www. then so should the URL you access your site. If the livesite variable doesn't contain www. then neither should the URL you use to access your administrative section.

We are seeing a growing number of Security and Privacy Software related issues

It seems that a number of anti-virus, pop-up blockers, firewalls and other privacy applications are blocking or inhibiting certain javascript routines causing problems with Admin Menus and other functions - such as 'save' buttons. Thanks to everyone who has reported these issues. Personally I advise everyone to check for the other causes first before temporarily turning down or off any security protection whilst troubleshooting. It might be worth someone alerting these software vendors of the possibility of 'false postives' with the combination of their software and Joomla.

Still not found a solution
If you still haven't sorted the problem feel free to post a message in the forums - outlining the steps you have already taken and supplying any pertinent information such as error messages, when the problem started, who sees it and when. Is the problem intermittent or 100% reproducible.

Dean Marshall

Updated to reflect growing reports of security and privacy software related issues.


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keywords: administration backend admin administrator menu toolbar tool bar