Joomla Developer’s Toolbox

Joomla Developer’s Toolbox
from Smashing Magazine by Steven Snell

By Steven Snell

Joomla is a popular free and open-source content management system (CMS) that can be used to power all kinds of websites. After we published developer’s toolboxes for a variety of other CMS’, many readers requested a collection of resources for Joomla users and developers, so here it is. Joomla grew out of the Mambo CMS and has since built a large and loyal group of users, much like the other popular open-source options. What this means for users and developers is that there is a wealth of information and resources available, and in this post we’ll take a look at many of the best.

Other developer’s toolboxes from Smashing Magazine:

* WordPress Developer’s Toolbox
* Drupal Developer’s Toolbox
* ExpressionEngine Developer’s Toolbox
* Textpattern Developer’s Toolbox
* Movable Type Developer’s Toolbox

1. Official Resources

Although the Joomla community of users provides plenty of valuable resources, there are also some official resources from Joomla that are worth noting:

Joomla Home
The official home of Joomla, where you can get information about the system and download the files.


A wealth of information that should be bookmarked by any Joomla user or developer.


Joomla Community Magazine
A great resource for Joomla users and developers to stay up-to-date.

Team Blogs
Each working group within the Joomla community maintains its own blog to communicate with the community.

Joomla Forums
If you’re looking for support or just a place to pose general questions to the community, this is the resource.
2. Getting Started

If you’ve decided that you want to give Joomla a try, take a look at these three resources to help you get started the right way:

Getting Started with Joomla
If you’ve never used Joomla before, this is a good starting point.

Getting started

Joomla 1.5 Installation Manual
If you need help getting Joomla installed, this provides you with instructions.

Absolute Beginner’s Guide to Joomla
A great resource for those who are just getting started; includes information on installing, admin options, the templating system and more.
3. Tutorials

If you’re looking to learn more about working with Joomla-powered websites, developing your own templates, working with plug-ins and more, here is a collection of categorized tutorials:
3.1 Working with Templates

Joomla Template Tutorial
Learn how to create a Joomla template in the developer network.

Template tutorial

Edit Template
Shows you how to edit your template from the admin panel.

Edit template

How to Determine Which Page You Are on from within a Joomla 1.5 Template
When developing templates, you may want to style pages differently. This tutorial will help.

Which page?

Editing the CSS File
A visual guide to making basic changes to Joomla’s CSS file.

Editing CSS files

Understanding Output Overrides in Joomla 1.5
An explanation for designers and developers about the output generated by Joomla.

Understanding output

Paging in Joomla
For Joomla developers who need help creating pagination.

Page Titles in Joomla 1.5
A look at working with page titles and modifying them to suit your needs.

Styling Front Page a Different Way
A quick tutorial on applying different styles to the front page of a Joomla website as compared to other pages on the website.

Custom 404 Error Pages
How to set up your own custom 404 error page on Joomla.
3.2 Working with Databases:

Export Joomla Database
The basic steps for exporting your database with phpMyAdmin.

Joomla Coding Practices: Tables and Primary Keys
Some helpful information about naming tables.
3.3 Website Administration

How to Change the Administrator Template in Joomla 1.5
Learn how you can make changes to your admin interface to suit your needs.

Change admin theme

How to Change Your Default Images Directory in Joomla 1.5
It’s possible to change your image directory in a Joomla website, and this article shows you how.

Change img directory

Import Your WordPress Blog into Joomla
If you’re interested in moving from WordPress to Joomla, this article shows you the steps to take.

WordPress to Joomla

Keeping Your Joomla Installation Safe Against Hacks and Exploits
Some quick advice for securing your website.

Securing Your Administrator Directory Using .htaccess Files
A quick tutorial on securing your Joomla website against hackers using .htaccess.

Moving Joomla Websites
Changing Web hosts or domain names can be very frustrating. This article shows you the process for a Joomla website.
3.4 Working with Feeds

Leveraging Feeds in Joomla 1.5
A helpful guide to working with feeds in Joomla.

How to Have RSS on Any Page of Joomla 1.5
A very quick tip for getting an RSS feed from any page.
3.5 Working with Modules, Plug-Ins and Components

Module Manager
A simple guide to Joomla’s module manager.

Module manager

How to Create a Joomla Plug-In
Are you looking to enhance the core functionality of Joomla for yourself or others? Here is a look at the basics.

How to create a plugin

Include Any Module Within Content in Joomla 1.5
A tutorial on integrating AdSense, PayPal and AdBrite within Joomla content.

Introduction to Joomla Component Development
A basic look at the subject of component development.
3.6 Other Tutorials

The Super Secret Site Map Trick
Get a site map without installing any extensions.

Joomla Performance Tuning: Module Cache
Learn how to improve your website’s performance with this tutorial on module caching.

How to Embed a YouTube Video in an Article in Joomla 1.5
This article shows you how to use a simple plug-in to insert YouTube videos easily.

Joomla Search Engine Optimization
A five-step approach to optimizing a Joomla-powered website.
4. Joomla Templates

The Joomla community has already created thousands of templates. There are several different websites that offer premium theme membership clubs, and there are also plenty of free templates available. Here we’ll look at some of the best places to get free and premium templates.

JoomlaJunkie offers club memberships that give users, designers and developers access to premium templates, and it also offers several free templates.


Best of Joomla
Developers can submit free templates here to be downloaded by others. Best of Joomla also offers some additional resources aside from free templates.

Best of Joomla

Provides more than 1,500 free Joomla templates.


Design for Joomla
A large collection of free templates for downloading.

Design for Joomla

Funky Visions
Offers a number of free templates for downloading.

Funky Visions

IbolDesign offers some free templates for downloading.


Rocket Theme
Rocket Theme is another premium template club; it also offers four free templates.

Rocket Theme

Joomla Shack
A marketplace for free and premium templates.

Joomla Shack

Joomla Jet
A premium theme marketplace that offers three different levels of membership.

Joomla Jet

Joomla Art
Another premium template club; it also provides some tutorials and additional resources.

Joomla Art

Blank Joomla 1.5 Template
A free starting point for your template development.

A collection of free user-submitted templates, among other resources.

This hosting company provides a number of free templates for Joomla users.

A home for free and premium templates for Joomla, WordPress and Drupal.
5. Extensions, Plug-Ins, Add-Ons

Like any other open-source CMS, Joomla comes with certain features and functionality out of the box, but additional features are available through extensions, plug-ins and add-ons. Like the templates, some are free and some are premium. In this section, we’ll include links to the best places to find the right extensions for your projects.

Joomla Extensions Directory
The official directory of extensions.

Joomla Ext Directory

Joomla Add-Ons
An excellent collection of free components, modules and plug-ins, as well as some for sale.

A collection of extensions for Joomla.

JoomlaWorks sells some premium plug-ins, but it also offers a number of useful plug-ins for free downloading.


Joomla Bamboo
Joomla Bamboo offers premium extensions and templates, but it also has some free resources.

Joomla Bamboo

VirtueMart is a free open-source e-commerce solution for Joomla and Mambo websites.


Directory of user-submitted Joomla modules.

A third-party extension directory is available at iJoomla.

A collection of Joomla add-ons, some free and some premium.

A blog that includes a number of free extensions.
6. Inspiration

If you would like to see what other designers and developers have been able to accomplish with Joomla, you’re in luck. There are several websites dedicated to Joomla inspiration, and a few others that include Joomla along with inspiration from other CMS’.

Joomla Based
A large showcase of Joomla-powered websites.

Joomla Based

Joomla Showcase
A Web design gallery specifically for Joomla-powered websites.

Joomla Showcase

Best of Joomla
An inspirational gallery that also provides free templates.

Best of Joomla

Joomla Case
Another design gallery just for Joomla.

Joomla Case

CMS Showcase
There are currently almost 40 Joomla-powered websites featured on CMS Showcase.

Joomla Showcase
The Joomla forums include an area for showing off custom Joomla templates and getting inspiration from the work of others.

Joomla Zone
Joomla Zone includes a Joomla Powered section, where website owners and designers can submit their Joomla-powered websites to be displayed
7. Compared to Other CMS’

If you haven’t used Joomla before, you’re probably wondering how it stacks up against other CMS options. The following resources, featuring the opinions of others on Joomla and other open-source CMS’, should help. Keep in mind that each has its own strengths and weaknesses, and no CMS is right for every project.

Joomla vs. WordPress
A discussion thread on the SitePoint forums.

Which CMS? Joomla vs. Drupal vs. WordPress
This video discusses each of these three open-source options.

WordPress vs. Joomla: A Handy Guide
This post on YOUmoz looks at the topics of usability, versatility and SEO.

Why Can’t We Be Friends? Joomla vs. Drupal
A balanced article that looks at the pros and cons of each.

Joomla and Drupal – Which One Is Right for You?
This article is about two years old, but it may still be helpful if you’re trying to compare.
8. Developer Resources

These resources don’t fit very well in the other categories in this post, but they’re all worth pointing out, and they all focus on meeting various needs of Joomla developers.

JoomlaCode is a resource for developers to build and manage open-source software projects centered on Joomla.


Freelance job marketplace for Joomla developers.


Joomla Developer Resources
A resource for developers who are developing, or want to develop, custom components and add-ons for Joomla.

Joomla Developer Resources
About the Author

Steven Snell is a Web designer and blogger. He actively maintains his own blog at Vandelay Design, where he frequently publishes articles about design, collections of resources and inspirational galleries. You can also follow him on Twitter. (al)