What makes up a Joomla installation

All the components, modules, templates and plugins which make up a Joomla setup

Article Audience - Generic Users / Joomla Newbies

The default joomla installation comes with a number of components or features each of which performs a particular function which allows you to take advantage of the core website framework. Here we will describe a number of elements, and how you can use each element to leverage the power of your website.

Templates

Templates are what define the look and feel of your Joomla website. Joomla separates the content of a website from the look of the website, such that it is extremely easy to give your website a whole new facelifft in very little time. Re-branding or re-doing your website is just a case of uploading a template file to your joomla installation, set the new template as the default website, and immediately you have a brand new website image.

This separation of content from looks, ensures that you have total separate control of the content from the actual look and feel, and changing one will not affect the other. Normally, updating the look of a website is a severe headache for the administrator, since the content has to be re-written which is time-consuming, tedious and consequently very expensive. In Joomla, it is exactly the opposite. Your content stays exactly as it is, whilst the look and feel can change completely. There is no limit to the kind of changes one can do to the look of a website.

To have a look at the ease of changing the look of a website whilst keeping the same templates, go to a few template demo websites, find the Template Chooser, choose a name of a template, press Select and you will see that the look of the website has changed whilst the content has remained the same.

Templates usually contain a number of place holders called positions where you can put certain modules (described further down). Typically templates will contain at least the left, body, right, header, banner, footer and positions. though positions vary according to the template being used. This makes it possible to change not just colors and images of a template, but also the positions of each module.

Components

Components are core pieces of functionality for particular features which will be displayed in the main body of a Joomla website. Components  which come with a default installation are:

  • News Feeds
  • Polls
  • Web Links
  • Banners
  • Contacts

As you can see, these functions are installed by default with your website. You can choose to enable / disable each component separately. Configuration and administration of each does not affect other components. For example you want to create certain kinds of categories for your news feeds, other categories for your polls, and different categories for your web links. In the mean time you also want to manage your banners and the contacts for each banner.

One of the best advantages that Joomla has over other frameworks is that the framework is open source and very popular. You will thus find that components exists for virtually any kind of functionality you can think of. Most components are free and usually have enough features to satisfy the needs of most customers. Other components are sold at a small price, however the value you get usually exceeds the price of the component by far. Other extensions include:

  • Online Shops
  • Various Image / Video Galleries / Slideshows
  • Chat
  • Community builders
  • Forums
  • and loads loads more.

Any thing which you ever need in a website is probably already available for download, and your only requirement is to install and configure. Installation is typically very easy, configuraiton depends on the functionality of the component but is usually easy too.

Modules

Modules are used to implement certain capabilites of Joomla such that the framework is given new capabilites. Examples of modules are the Main Menu and Top Menu modules (which are used to generate dynamically generate menus), Template Chooser (which allows a user to change the Joomla templates on the fly, typically used for template demos), Polls, Hit Counter etc.

Modules are different from components in that they are not tied down to the main body of the website, but instead can be placed in specific positions determined by the template being used. 

Mambots / Plugins

Mambots (now renamed to Plugins) are small function oriented pieces of code which manipulate the content in certain ways before displaying it. These are usually bound to a specific task example displaying an image { mosimage }, or creating a page break { mospagebreak }.

The difference between a module and a mambot, is that contrary to modules, which have to be assigned to particular positions, mambots can live within your actual content items. A mambot usually requires the user to enter the mambot usage syntax i.e. something like . This will then be automatically chnaged to specific html (generated by the mambot) according to the mambot parameters. 

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