Getting Started with Joomla!
The aim of this document is to introduce the Back-end of a Joomla! site which is used by administrators for managing the whole site. It is useful to be familiar with this as background to creating a new web site.
Background to creating a new Joomla! 1.5 web site
There are four aspects to designing a new Joomla! web site. These also apply to planning to make alterations(including upgrading versions J1.5 to J2.5+) to an existing site or planning for transferring a site that already exists in another form into the Joomla! CMS.
- The content hierarchy:
- The content hierarchy is defined as Sections with Categories. (Another way of visualising this, Sections are the labeled drawers of a filing cabinet and Categories are the file folders in each drawer.)
- The Sections have been removed and now the content hierarchy is Categories and Subcategories.
- Who you expect to use the site and what you want them to be able to do
- The layout of the menus and the position of some functionality on the page
- The graphical design of the whole site
These should all be based on the purpose and expected content of the site, so you do need a clear idea of what you are trying to communicate and plan accordingly. Easier said than done!
Who is it written for?
Everyone: who is going to create a Joomla! site.
- It is written on the assumption that you have not used this management tool but you have explored the content of a Joomla! site.
If you solely enter and update content on a Site, you will not normally use the Back-end.
What is the Back-end?
The Back-end of a Joomla! site is used to manage the content, appearance and functionality of the site. It is not seen by visitors to the Front-end and you can only login to it if you have appropriate permissions. It is here too that the basis of a new site is created.
Administrator Back-end permissions:
There are three levels of users who have access to the Back-end. They are important because they have site-wide permissions to alter content and other things.
- Super Administrators: They can do anything and in particular they can alter configurations and install new extensions.
- Administrators: They can do most things, apart from installing extensions, altering site-wide configurations. They cannot alter the Super administrator user accounts.
- Managers: They can login to these pages but are limited to the main menu and managing the content.
Cross Reference: There is another document in this series that explore the Administrator roles - see
The mechanics of using the Back-end
If you can, it is useful to use a 'localhost' instance of Joomla! for exploring the Back-end because you can try things without doing any harm to an established site.
Cross Reference: Another document in this series tells you how to download an instance of Joomla! on your own computer. Localhost installation on your own computer. An instance of Joomla! with the sample data is particularly valuable.
Login to the Back-end
- Enter the address of the site that you are going to use.
- The localhost site with sample data is a good place to start - and if you have a localhost installation on your own computer, then use it:-
- If you are using an established site - the address is the one for the Site itself (the Front-end) with the addition of /administrator.
This opens the Login page
- Enter the Username and password that you have for the site.
- Click Login
The Control Panel
You are logged in to the Control Panel which is the entry point to the Back-end.
Logging out: This returns you to the Administrator login screen.
- Most sites log you out automatically if you have not done anything on the site for a defined length of time - usually about 15 minutes. This is for security.
- Click on the Logout link in the top-right corner of the Administrator screen.
This shows the Control Panel of an established site. Here there are two visitors logged in to the site and note that the Super Administrator, logged in to the Administator page, has a username which does not include 'admin'. On many sites the administrators have usernames that do not indicate that they are administrators - for security reasons.
The Control Panel of an established site with three users logged in
This shows the Control Panel for the Sample data inlocalhost. Here all the options to the right (Site Information) are closed, although the 'Joomla! Welcome screen is set to display by default. This is almost the same as the other Control panel apart from some additional Site Information choices and illustrates that most Administrator pages appear much the same - which is reasonable because they all do much the same tasks.
The Control Panel of the Sample site with more Site Information options available to the right of the screen
The whole Control Panel is roughly divided into three sections:-
- Control icons are in the main part of the screen
- Menus are along the top
- Site Information is to the right
The Control Icons on the main part of the screen
This provides administrators with a quick way to access the most frequently used tasks to manage the whole web site.
Explore each of these to give you a sense of what an Administrator can do. The on-line Help for each one is comprehensive.
- Article Manager and Add New Article
- The Article Manager is where you can add and manage all the articles for your web site. You can publish, unpublish, edit, archive and much else.
- Section Manager
- The Section Manager is the place where you can edit existing Sections and create new ones.
- Category Manager
- The Category Manager is where you can edit existing Categories and create new ones. Articles in Joomla! are organized into Sections and Categories. Categories are the second level of organization underneath Sections. Every Section contains one or more Categories.
- Media Manager
- The Media Manager is a tool for uploading or deleting files in the /images/ directory on your web server. You can upload new files, delete existing ones and create sub-directories.
- Menu Manager
- The Menu Manager allows you add and alter Joomla!'s menus.
- User Manager
- This allows you to look at a list of users and sort them in different ways. You can also edit and create users.
- Language Manager
- You can set the default Language for both the Front-end and Back-end of your Joomla! web site in Language Manager
- Global Configuration (available to Super-Administrators)
- The Global Configuration Manager allows you to configure the Joomla! site with various settings.
An example - Article Manager
All the various manager interfaces are similar and are designed to show key information and can be used for many tasks.
This illustrates how Mangement pages work. Normally the items being managed (such as Users or Sections) are listed and there are icons for doing various tasks
A typical Management page. It shows a listing.
To Note in particular:
- Filter: this allows you to find something by typing in all or part of a name.
- Sorting columns: you can order Articles by clicking on the header of each column
- Find Articles in the heirachy: There are pull-down lists to select Articles by Category / Section / Author. This is useful for a large site
- Icons at the top: There are icons to allow various manipulations of content - such as Publish, Trash (ie delete) Edit and New.
- Help gives full information about the Article Manager.
- Click the icon to use the Help which is good and comprehensive. There are similar Help facilites in the menus of all the main Manager functions.
An example of a Workspace page - Categories
Once you open a specific task in the Manager page, you are usually taken to a page with a Workspace layout. This can work in any site to which you hav e access - the examples use the localhost sample data.
- Navigate back to the main Control Panel interface. From the Menu:-
- Select Site / Control Panel
To view an example of a Workspace screen:-
- Open Manage Categories
The Management screen is similar to that for Articles in that it lists Categories and allows you to manipulate them. To see the Workspace:-
- Click on the Tick box
- Click on the Edit icon
Editing a Category - a similar but blank one displays for adding a new one.
The Workspace for a Category.
The key elements allow you to alter (or enter) information required. There is more about the organisation of Sections and Categories in another document in this series, see Background: Sections and Categories
The display here can vary according to how the site has been set up. Four display by default - as an earlier screen illustrates. The Site information for the Sample data in localhost shows that they give a very useful overview of the activity on the site.
- Open each choice and explore what is shows
They give a summary about:-
- Logged in Users: who is logged in (you can also log them out from this screen)
- Popular: shown in the screen shot: the most popular articles with the numbers of hits and the date they were created
- Recent added Articles: new content
- Menu stats: hits on the Menus
In the sample data there are also two addition ones (Welcome to Joomla! and Joomla! Security) which give information about Joomla! Welcome to Joomla! is open by default when the Administrator part of the site is accessed.
These give access to all the functionality available in the site. The exact content of the Menus, and especially the Component Menu, depends on how the site has been set up. For example, this shows the basic menus under Components as they are on the Sample data.
If extra features (Extensions) have been added, they too appear on the menu. Here is an an established site where some Extensions (notably an editor JCE and Community Builder) have been installed which can be viewed through the menu system. (There is more on Extensions in another document - link it)
- Look at each menu in turn
When you begin, you won't necessarily understand or remember it all. But pulling down the menus and seeing what is there shows you what more you will need to find out to progress.
- Help on-line: Help on all the Management pages has a link to the Joomla! documentation web site. In each Manager section Help gives comprehensive information about what all the features do.
- If you are an experienced reader of Help - this will not be too difficult and developers will welcome the added detail of the on-line Help. Beginners may find that they do not understand all the vocabulary. Persist - you will understand more of it as you get experience using a site which builds your understanding of concepts and associated vocabulary.
- Quick start guide This includes descriptions of the Back-end as part of installing and creating a Joomla! site. It is good and helpful.
- Learning Joomla! using Sample Data It has a short section on the Back-end but is also useful in exploring the Sample data in the localhost installation.
On-line administrator's manual
--Lorna Scammell January 2011