Template grumble

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Template grumble

Post by andypooz » Fri Oct 23, 2020 10:14 am

I'm a Joomla developer. Back end, developing extensions, that kinda stuff. I'm not a web designer and always valued using quality commercial templates.
But I'm noticing a trend that is irritating me: templates trying to become their own separate ecosystem. It seems like every template provider now has their own framework, each one nothing like the next, and seemingly incomprehensible to me. When you launch the template editor in the admin panel now, rather than having a familiar joomla interface with the usual configuration, you have an entirely new GUI.
Norms with module positions are abandoned. Unpublishing a module now won't necessarily remove the module from the page. Menus will show without any module attached to them, seemingly impossible to remove. Templates routinely phone home, and require registration before features are unlimited.
And then there's the index.php file. Forget about going in there to find anything useful for modification- everything is offloaded to the framework.
Do others find this trend towards framework fragmentation and templates overriding the usual Joomla paradigms helpful, or infuriating, like me? Is it just a case of needing to find a template provider you like, getting to grips with their framework and stick with the one provider?
I recently completed a survey regarding the anticipated template directory, and I made my feelings known on this topic, but I have no idea if I'm on my own.
If anyone knows a quality template company that just uses bootstrap, puts everything in the index.php and doesn't have a template editor like the console from a star trek spacecraft that by-passes what the Joomla CMS usually controls, then they'll have a loyal customer in me!
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Re: Template grumble

Post by waarnemer » Fri Oct 23, 2020 10:59 am

Ha, I even try to avoid bootstrap as a framework... (but for some .js tweaks as extension developers tend to create views that require bootstrap)
And the classes and ID's of the present bootstrap css that appear in views can be reused in any of your own.

So yes I am totally with you! But never bought a template...

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Re: Template grumble

Post by Jaydot » Fri Oct 23, 2020 11:53 am

andypooz wrote:
Fri Oct 23, 2020 10:14 am
...a trend that is irritating...
Thank you for writing this!
I couldn't agree more, though I could never put it so eloquently.

I'm not a dev (just a user who has built a number of sites) so I thought it was just me.

All my relatively simple sites are built on customized Protostar (and they all look different, because I'm quite good at CSS), but I worry about the advent of J!4, so I recently downloaded a good looking template (on the demo site) which claims to be J!4-ready.

Bewildering! I couldn't get it to do the simplest things, the index.php was - for me - incomprehensible, every div in the divsoup had half a dozen hard-coded (bs) classes getting in my way, and the CSS was rife with !importants. It kept encouraging me to download it's related page builder. Even making a duplicate of the template to play around with required modifying files all over the place.

I was an extremely frustrating experience.
Made me wonder if perhaps I was getting too old for this game.

But I'm now playing with J!4 and Cassiopeia and it's CSS Grid, and it's such a relief! Back to the Joomla that I know and love :).
The fact that an opinion is widely held is no evidence whatsoever that it is not utterly absurd.
Personal website: https://jaydot.nl

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Re: Template grumble

Post by sozzled » Fri Oct 23, 2020 7:35 pm

As with many of these free-ranging grumbles, I probably shouldn't stick my nose in here because something I'll write will be taken out of context and I'll never hear the end of it ... or my entire post will be ignored and consigned to some forgotten corner of the internet ...

I agree with the OP in the sense that there are a number of template frameworks for J! (and goodness knows how many of them I've toyed with) and some are intuitively better than others and some of them one has to spend a day or two reading the operator's manual or trawl through the developer's support forum ... and some of them are just a PITA and I've given up after spending a couple of days and, no matter how proficient one might be with CSS, writing a few hundred lines of CSS to make the website appear "just so" seems like a lot of overkill.

... and don't get me started on !important(s) :laugh:

As all of us know, the template is not the website. While it's important to have some idea in mind, when you're about to build a brand new website, of how the final rendering will appear to visitors to your website, the template is nearly always the last area I work on before I launch a new website onto an unsuspecting public. ;) That's not a hard-and-fast rule; it's just the approach that I take.

Having written this, I don't think anyone can summarise a "growing trend"—and it's not a trend—eloquently, in a few words, as being irritating. Brand differentiation is important: one company's approach to template design should be different from another company's approach to template design. The fact that one company may choose to make life easier (or different) by implementing their "ecosystem" is just a fact; nothing more. It's been this way for the entire time I have worked with J!. If there was no brand differentiation between template frameworks/"ecosystems" then two things would happen:

a) J! websites would all look similar and, unless novice site owners could invest their time in learning CSS, businesses dependent on J! would probably migrate to three-mouse-clicks-hey-presto-instant-website offerings; "eye-candy" is important but not everyone knows how to add the required window dressing

b) templating businesses will either go out of business, merge with other businesses, or struggle to compete if their products are unacceptable to the consumer base because of grumbles about the "ecosystems" they employ

So I think we should remember that—even though I accept the points made by the OP—we're not all the same.

Yes, some of these GUIs are replete with their own terminology (e.g. particles, atoms) that don't translate very well in to native Joomla-ese. Further, if those templates aren't called templates, they're sometimes referred to as "page builders". Confusing, isn't it?

I make no comment about J! 4. I do want to make a comment about the JTD because I believe it's a total waste of time (and this is one area I expect will draw some criticism).

The internet (or, more specifically, search engines) is where people discover templates for J!. I've been using the internet (or, perhaps I should say, Google) for a long time and that's where I learn about emerging trends and new ideas. I don't want some "other" catalogue of template designs that, by inference, are somehow endorsed by the J! project ... no matter how much the J! project will issue disclaimers like "we don't endorse any product listed in this catalogue, we don't intervene in customer disputes and we don't claim that our catalogue contains items that work." Even worse if the JTD were to emerge as some latter-day JED and invite "reviews" ... unnngh! >:(

Successful template companies already know how to leverage the internet/Google and their websites showcase their products well enough to attract paying customers. Most template companies' websites that I've visited provide enough information (often with live demos or downloadable feature-limited demo versions) to make an informed decision. Why re-invent the wheel? Why would anyone require the JTD (unless it's to provide a vehicle for those less-successful template developers who struggle against the bigger names)?

To be honest, I wish that the J! project would get back to the core business of supporting open-source software development, stop navel-gazing, and get its fingers out of the market.
“If you think I’m wrong then say, ‘I think you’re wrong.’ If you say ‘You’re wrong!’, how do you know?” :)

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Re: Template grumble

Post by annahersh » Tue Oct 27, 2020 3:34 am

andypooz wrote:
Fri Oct 23, 2020 10:14 am
I'm noticing a trend that is irritating me: templates trying to become their own separate ecosystem. It seems like every template provider now has their own framework
If you stick with the core Protostar and customize it with a system plugin (add config form elements, override files, styling etc), you'll have exactly what you desire without all the headache.

andypooz wrote:
Fri Oct 23, 2020 10:14 am
Templates routinely phone home
Naturally this process is done for various monitoring and to ensure they get paid. Sometimes it may be done just to determine usage popularity. There is this code which constantly "call home" when used and causes "no padlock" error when called on a SSL site.

Code: Select all

jQuery("#iu_result").html('<img src="http://netamity.com/37/plugins/fields/imageupload/assets/loading.gif"/>'); 
Consider changing that URL.

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