Setting up a Free Joomla Blog
Article Audience: Joomla Webmasters / Generic Users
Joomla allows users to create a blog very easily. Functionality is available to make blogging simple to setup, although a number of tweaks are necessary to blog-enable your installation. We will show you how to setup a blog with the minimal installation of Joomla components.
Using the Joomla Blog function
When creating a menu, one of the layouts you can choose is the Blog Layout. This displays all the items in a particular section (or sections), in a particular layout. So the first thing you have to do is decide whether you want to display information from all your sections, or else create a blog section. To keep control of your content, we suggest you create a blog section (and if necessary move any articles to this section). Once you have created the section, create a number of categories (topics which you will discuss in your blog). Even if you do not intend to blogging about different topics you still need to create at least one category. This is because when you create a content article, you must specify an category, otherwise you will not be able to save the article.
For my example I have created a Joomla Blog section, and Templates, Tutorials and News categories.
For testing purposes create and publish a few articles (6 or so which you can delete later on).
Once you have setup your sections and categories, you need to create your layout and link the blog to a menu item. Go to the Menu Manager, and create a new menu item (in your main menu) or any menu you want to link the blog to. Choose the Blog - Content Section, and then choose the Blog Section you have created previously.
Remember to change the page title of your blog to the name of your blog, and use the rest of the parameters to choose how many columns you want to display. Typically a blog contains a single column, so change the Columns parameter to 1.
Columns - the columns determines how many columns will feature in each row. If you want more than a single column, set the number of columns here.
#Leading - This parameter determines the number of full width articles to display. Articles displayed in the Leading will have the Intro text displayed. This setting overrides the columns parameter i.e. if you have decided to have 2 columns and 1 items in the leading intro you will have a layout as follows:
Article 1 - Full Width (Row 1 - Leading)
Article 2 (Row 2, Column 1) Article 3 (Row2, Column 2)
Article 4 (Row 3, Colum 1) Article 5 (Row 3, Column 2)
#Intro - the number of articles whose Intro text will be displayed (excludes the number of items in the Leading parameter).
#Links - the number of links to articles to display (excludes the number of items in the Leading and Intro parameters). Items showed in the Links section will feature just the title of the article (with no Intro text displayed).
You will need to experiment with these values to find your optimal layout.
Besides the number of "lead" articles i.e. the items displayed when you click on the blog link, you should provide a link to the rest your blogging articles. To do this you should create a menu link for each category. To do this create a Add a New Menu Item, but this time instead of choosing your section, choose one of your blog categories i.e. Blog - Content Category. You can either create a full blown menu item, or ideally create a child menu item for your blog section. Each of the above parameters apply also for the each blog category, therefore set these up according to your preferences.
If you create a child menu items, the will get a menu similar to the following.
As you can see we have defined the menu item to be a child of the Blog Section menu item.
You should create a Blog Archive menu item if you are planning to ensure that any items which have been archived can still be accessed. The archive menu item is similar to the other menu items with similar parameters, with the only difference being that only items which have been marked as archived will be shown in this section.
Besides the blogging content, an essetial feature of any blog is the ability to comment on the various articles. Therefore you need to implement a mechanism which allows your visitors to comment on your section. There are a number of comment systems. You need to install and configure a comment system. We have used the JoomlaComment component, which is free. However, this component has a number of bugs, and you should be careful if you are not ready to fiddle about with code.
There are a number of commercial comment components. The most popular, and most functional is the JomComment component.
Setting up the comment component should be fairly easily, and we will skip this part.
Once you've established a good amount of content, and a regular user base, the ideal thing is to keep your users updated with any new content that you blog about. This is done through Syndication. The default Joomla installation is only able to syndicate content which appears in the frontpage, thus we once again opt for a 3rd party component. This is the RSS Feed Manager by Run Digital. You simply install the component, and in its setup you choose which Section / Category to provide a feed for. A feed URL is then created, and you can check that this works by copying and pasting the URL into your browser. It is a good idea to customise the names to suit the content of your blog. Search engines (Google in particular) seem to have an affinity for feeds, so it is a good idea to provide as much information as possible in your feed.
Once you have published the required feeds, you need some way of displaying these feeds to your users. The mod_html component is a good tool to publish these.
The code in mod_html should be something as follows:
<a href=http://www.dart-creations.com/index.php?option=com_rd_rss&id=x ><img src="http://www.dart-creations.com/images/stories/rss.gif" alt="DART Creations Feed"/></a><br/<a href="index.php?option=com_rd_rss&id=x" target="_blank" target="_blank">
Dart Creations Feed
You should publish the Feeds mod_html only in your blog pages, by choosing the appropriate pages as in the following image.
With the above we have created a blog using just a standard installation and free joomla components.
Commercial Blogging Components - MyBlog
If you think all the above is too complicated to setup and administer you can take a look at the following blogging component. MyBlog is a fully featured Joomla blog component. Amongst the features supported by MyBlog are:
- RSS Feeds
- Technorati pings
- Support for multiple blog users
- Avatar support
- Tag clouds
- JomComment Integration
- Easy Image Editing
- Easy templating
- Latest comments
- Most popular blogs
Warning: Remember that 3rd party modules may compromise your site's security. In this case the risk may be even larger because code you insert may create additional vulnerabilites. Always make sure that your code comes from a trusted source.
One more thing...Do you have friends or a Facebook group who you think would find this useful? Share this with them and then let me know what they think.
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