Getting Started with Joomla!

By Nathan Segal

If you've never heard of Joomla!, it's known as a CMS (content management system), which allows you to build complex web sites and run various applications. A CMS can be used to keep track of photos, text, music, data, documents and more. It can be simple or complex, depending on your needs. Here are some examples of what you can do with Joomla!:
  • Create corporate web sites and/or portals
  • Run ezines and newspapers
  • Create web sites for small business, churches, non-profits or personal pages
  • Create e-commerce sites
In this article we'll look at the many options for setting up Joomla! and how to configure the software.

If you've never used Joomla! before, a good way to get started is to test out the online demo at Joomla.org. You have the option of Joomla! 1.5 or 1.6. Here are the steps to get started:

  1. Visit the Joomla! demo and fill in the application. You'll need to create an account with a current email address. Once you do so, the activation link will be sent to your email account.
  2. You need to activate the account.
  3. Now you can access the demo. You'll need to log in to get started.

Note that all accounts have Super Administrator access and will remain valid for one month. Note that any functions that could be abused have been disabled.

Free support and training is provided and your site is hosted with CloudAccess.net (which we cover in the next article). Here are your support options:
Email: demosupport@cloudaccess.net
Support: Submit a support ticket
Call: +1 231 844 4053
Skype: Call cloudaccess (no chat)
After 30 days, you can leave your site with CloudAccess.net, you can move your site to another web host, or download the site to use locally.

Before we explore the installation options, we'll have a look at Joomla! 1.6.

Here are some of the new features:

  • Better controls for content viewing and editing. You can also configure user groups
  • The category structure is user-defined offering one-level to multi-level categories
  • The installation process has been improved, offering the ability to install multiple extensions at once
  • New templates and markup offer eye-catching designs
  • Expanded creative control by using template style
Other features include: More control for graphics designers, the ability to override virtually all output from the administrator, and individual administrator templates can be given to individual users.

Installing Joomla

You have two options for installing Joomla!: as a web browser installation and as a manual installation.

The minimum installation requirements are in the table above.

Here's a look at an installation using GoDaddy. Onscreen the interface gives you the impression that there are only four steps, but there are actually steps within the steps, so it takes a bit longer than it might seem at first. Still, the installation is relatively painless.

Here's the first step of installing Joomla on GoDaddy.

Step two is where you choose hosting, but since I have hosting with GoDaddy, the installation method jumped to this step.

In this step you choose an install directory.

In this step you configure the database and create passwords.

This is the last step in the installation. When the process is complete, GoDaddy will send you an email message and you'll be ready to go.

Several months ago, I installed Joomla 1.5 on GoDaddy. The end result gives you a starting page which looks like the one above.

Recently, I installed Joomla! 1.6 using GoDaddy again. The result was this new starting page. As I've discovered, it's not possible to install a new version of Joomla! on top of another one. Instead, you have to install the latest version of Joomla! into a new directory and move the data and images to the new installation, which could take quite a bit of time and effort. After that, you'll have to re-install and re-configure all the components you used in the previous installation, as well, testing each one to make sure they work. And if you've used JavaScript or any custom programming, all that will need to be reconfigured, as well.

In my case, I thought that all I had to do was log in by FTP, delete the program and database in GoDaddy and start again. Wrong!

What happened is that I wound up with multiple installations on the same domain, which created a real mess. With the help of a technician, I went into the GoDaddy interface and deleted the multiple installs so I could start again with an install to the root directory, which is what I wanted. Be aware that this can take up to 24 hours to complete, though according to the technicians, it should complete in an hour.

Manual Installation

For a manual installation, the instructions are available as a PDF file.

As noted earlier, there are two forms of installation, web browser installation and manual installation. The steps for both are shown above. Note that the manual was written in 2007 and was designed for version 1.5 of Joomla!.

Here are a few notes about the installation:

If you're installing on a localhost, such as your current computer, all you have to do is copy the files into the the root folder of the web server. If you're using a remote host, you'll need to use FTP, though some web browsers have a tool that will allow you to upload the files that way. Regardless, you want to install Joomla! to the root folder and this will be different with every hosting company, so you want to make sure you move the files to the right directory. With some hosts, you are able to upload the compressed file and unzip it there using SSH.

When creating the database for Joomla!, it must be configured with the UTF-8 MySQL collation. Any changes must be saved as UTF-8 No BOM encoding. This is usually the default setting, so you should be good to go.

Make sure to use secure passwords. A recommended length is 8-10 characters. This should be a mixture of letters, numbers and special characters where permitted.

Once Joomla! is installed, check out the documentation on the Joomla Documentation Wiki. I recommend starting in the beginner's section of the Wiki.

We will cover other aspects of Joomla! in upcoming articles, including hosting it via a cloud server, then we will delve into administration, themes and more!

Make a Comment

Loading Comments...

  • Web Development Newsletter Signup

    Invalid email
    You have successfuly registered to our newsletter.
  •  
  •  
  •