More advanced Joomla! templates

From Joomla! Documentation

Revision as of 17:17, 29 September 2013 by Tom Hutchison (Talk | contribs)

(diff) ← Older revision | Latest revision (diff) | Newer revision → (diff)


DocType header to use

Current thinking is that HTML5 should be used for Joomla! templates.

Recommended DocTypes

List of recommended DocTypes for different circumstances:-

  • HTML 4.01 Strict: <!DOCTYPE HTML PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.01//EN" "">
  • HTML 4.01 Transitional: <!DOCTYPE HTML PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.01 Transitional//EN" "">
  • HTML 4.01 Frameset: <!DOCTYPE HTML PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.01 Frameset//EN" "">
  • XHTML 1.0 Strict: <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD XHTML 1.0 Strict//EN" "">
  • XHTML 1.0 Transitional: <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD XHTML 1.0 Transitional//EN" "">
  • XHTML 1.0 Frameset: <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD XHTML 1.0 Frameset//EN" "">
  • XHTML 1.1 DTD: <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD XHTML 1.1//EN" "">
  • HTML5: <!DOCTYPE html>

References about DocTypes

References about recommended DocTypes:

Setting up page width

Some templates provide the opportunity to select the type of page width, through its parameter settings. In case this does not meet the requirements, the template manager also allows the modification of the cascading style sheets. It is in those files, usually with the extension .css, that most, if not all, of the style (graphical) attributes are defined.

What is CSS?

CSS stands for Cascading Style Sheet. HTML tags specify the graphical flow of the elements, be it text, images or flash animations, on a webpage. CSS allows us to define the appearances of those html tags with their content, somewhere, so that other pages, if want be, may adhere to. This brings along consistency throughout a website. The cascading effect stipulates that the style of a tag (parent) may be inherited by other tags (children) inside it.

CSS Statements

The definition of an html tag is as follows:

tagname { attribute: value; attribute: value; }

Tagname may be any html tag but for the sake of setting up page width, what is of interest to us is an html tag that gives structure to a webpage. Some webpages are constructed from div tags while others are constructed on table tags. Usually, the tag has a 'width' attribute. You set up a page width by varying the value of the 'width' attribute.

Sometimes, html tags are not defined directly. They are given an id or a class name and CSS refers to those specific tags by their ids or their class names.

The definition of an id in CSS is as follows:

#idname { attribute: value; attribute: value; }

while the definition of a class in CSS is as follows:

.classname { attribute: value; attribute: value; }

Again setting up a page width means modifying the value of the 'width' attribute of any one of these definitions.

For example, the syntax could be by not including the parenthesis,

div {width:50%;}

This will make the width of the element to be 50% of its initial.

More information can be found from w3schools here

Value of the 'width' attribute

The value of the 'width' attribute may be in pixels or percentage. Pixels are fixed values; hence in this case, the width does not vary according to window resizing or changing screen resolutions. Percentage usually means that the width is a fraction of the width of its container. So if we have a screen resolution of 1024 pixels by 768 pixels and our page width is set to 80% of the browser window container, our page would be approximately 820 pixels (80% of 1024) provided that the window browser is open at its fullest.

About CSS page layouts

Professional websites separate styling from content. There are many reasons for this, the most obvious (to a developer) being the ability to control the appearance of many pages by changing one file. Styling information includes: fonts; backgrounds; images (that recur on every page); position and dimensions of elements on the page. Your HTML file will now be left with: header information; a series of elements; the text of your website. Because you are creating a Joomla! template, you will actually have: some header information; php code to request the rest of the header information; a series of elements; php code to request each module position; php code to request the main content.

Style information is coded in CSS, cascading style sheet, and usually stored in files with the suffix .css. A webpage contains a link to the associated .css file so a browser can find the appropriate style information to apply to the page. CSS can also be placed inside a html file between <style type="text/css"></style> tags.

All CSS code is applied to an element of the html/xml page. If you want a style to encompass a whole page, you would probably apply it to the <body> element. You can apply styles to any html element such as <p>, <table> or <div> elements. To style a particular element it needs to have an ID. For example, to apply styles to the <div> containing the title, you would first include an ID in the html - <div ID="title">.

Horizontal centering

Horizontal centering is achieved with CSS in one of two ways, depending on what you are centering.

For the first example, let's say you have a horizontal menu at the top of your page that you want centered in your layout. You would do it with a block of code in the linked CSS file like this:

#horz_menu {
   margin: auto; 
   width: 800px; 
   height: 25px; 

The "auto" value in the "margin" attribute centers the item, so this would create a menu area that is 800 pixels wide and 25 pixels tall and would be centered in whatever space it is placed in.

If you need to add some margin space above and below the menu and still keep it centered you would adjust the code like this:

#horz_menu { 
   margin: 20px auto 20px auto; 
   width: 800px; 
   height: 25px; 

This would add 20 pixles of space on the top and bottom of the menu while keeping the left and right margin in a centered mode.

The second example is when you simply want to center text, in which case you just add the "text-align" code.

#horz_menu a {
   padding: .75em 0 .52em 0; 
   font-size: 0.8em; 
   font-weight: bold; 
   color: #0033CC; 
   background-color: transparent; 
   text-align: center; 

This would cause any links within the horz_menu div tag of the html code to be centered in the horizontal menu. They would also have .75em of padding above and .52em of padding below them.

These same techniques work for the overall page layout as well. Let's say you want the shell content area of your page to be 900 pixels wide and to be centered on the page and that you want the headline to be centered within it. Your CSS code would look something like this:

#page_container {
   margin: auto; 
   width: 900px; 
   background-color: #FFFFFF; 
   border: 1pt solid #660000; 
#page_container h1 {
   margin: 50px 0 20px 0 ; 
   font-size: 1.25em; 
   font-weight: bold; 
   color: #0033CC; 
   background-color: transparent; 
   text-align: center; 

This would create a page that has a main content box centered in the browser window with a white background and a brown border.

Any text inside a h1 tag that is inside the page_container div tag in the html code of the page would also be centered inside that main content box.

Of course the example above is a simplified example for demonstration and you would have more structure involved (left column, right column, etc).

So as you can see, horizontal centering for structural items is achieved with the "margin" attribute whereas horizontal centering for text items is achieved using the "text-align" attribute.

Adding images

Split Page into Specific Joomla! Versions - J2.5 and J3.1

It has been suggested that this article or section be split into specific version Namespaces. (Discuss). If version split is not obvious, please allow split request to remain for 1 week pending discussions. Proposed since 9 months ago.

  • Upload Using Media Manager

The simplest way to add images is to upload them from your computer using the Media Manager. First, of course, you have to download the image onto your computer and be able to find it. Then, from the Control Panel (back-end administrative interface) navigate to Content -> Media Manager.

On the left is a directory tree, with the root directory "Media". This corresponds to the default "images" directory, yoursite/joomla/images. Pick a subdirectory where you want the image located, or else do nothing to upload the image to the default images directory.

At the bottom of the page is a typical Upload box. Click "Browse" to locate the image on your computer, then "Upload" to upload the file to the server.

  • FTP

Of course, you can upload images to a server using any standard FTP client. You might find this handier for adding images to template directories; however, if you have FTP set up, you probably don't need an explanation of how to add an image. Also, many server administration panels such as Cpanel and Plesk have upload capabilities.

  • Extensions

There are several extensions, available from the Joomla extensions section, that handle image uploads.

Declaring module positions

The templateDetails.xml file contains all the installation and core information for a template. In order for Module positions to be available for selection in the Module Manager, the positions must be declared in the templateDetails.xml file of the template.

Module Elements in templateDetails.xml

In the file, the sub-element <positions> along with its sub-elements <position> define the locations available for each Module position supported by the template. Here is a brief list of the commonly used names for the various module positions and how they are declared.


Although these are commonly used, it is up to the template developer to choose both a module position name and the accompanying display layout.

The addition of module positions, as displayed above, is implemented in between the <positions> and </positions> tags. In between those tags in the templateDetails.xml file, add the name of the module position in between a set of <position> and </position> tags.

You can add and define new Module positions and give them any name you like, but it is recommended that you support at least those shown in the example above. This is so that some level of consistency is maintained when switching Templates or using multiple Templates on a single site.

Use and Implementation

A Joomla! template displays a set of modules added to a specific position using the <jdoc:include /> statement shown below:

<jdoc:include type="modules" name="name of module position" style="xhtml" />

For further information about <jdoc:include /> code and how to use it, see jdoc statements.

See also

Finding module positions on any given page

To get a visual indication of all module positions used on a page you can follow this procedure:-

  • Joomla 2.5Joomla 3.1 In the administrative backend go to Extensions->Template Manager. Click on Options and set Preview Module Positions to enabled.
  • navigate to the page in your web browser.
  • click into the URL field in your browser.
  • look for any "parameters" at the end of the URL. These are separated from the main part of the URL by a question mark. For example, in the URL, the "id=17" is a parameter.
  • if there are no parameters, append "?tp=1" to the URL and press RETURN. For example,
  • if there are already parameters in the URL, append "&tp=1" to the URL and press RETURN. For example,
  • the module positions will be outlined in red.

Note that in some circumstances there may be module positions available that are not outlined in red. This can happen when a template defines those module positions as conditional on there being modules enabled in that position. If there are no modules enabled in that position then the template may adapt and the position will not be visible.

Changing the site favicon


Changing your website's favicon is a relatively easy task.

  1. Create a 16x16 pixel image. You may use graphic software such as Photoshop, Gimp, or Windows Paint. Alternatively, you can also use an online tool such as
  2. Convert to ico format using free online sites such as:
  3. The file you created in this way will have the extension .ico. Copy the file to the /joomla/templates/<your template> directory and name it favicon.ico.
  4. Open a browser. Do you see your new icon? If so, congratulations. If not, that doesn't necessarily mean you did anything wrong. Browsers are designed to minimize data traffic, so they don't refresh the favicon every time they show a page. Even refreshing the page (F5) won't help. So you need to refresh more thoroughly:
    • Mozilla / Firefox / Safari: hold down Shift while clicking Reload, or press Ctrl-Shift-R (Cmd-Shift-R on Apple Mac);
    • IE: hold Ctrl while clicking Refresh, or press Ctrl-F5;
    • Konqueror: simply click the Reload button, or press F5;
    • Opera users may need to completely clear their cache in Tools→Preferences.
    • Chrome: Shift-F5
    • If this doesn't work you will need to delete the temporary internet files and the history and then open your page again.

My favicon is in another location

Some templates contain code that redirects the browser to another directory or another icon file. To determine where your new favicon should be, examine and look for code that contains the text <link rel="shortcut icon". There you will find the directory and the name of the icon file. Copy your icon to that place and give it the the name that link is pointing to (you might want to backup the old file). Make sure you set the security correctly such that you webserver has access to that file. Look at the example below.

<link rel="shortcut icon" href="" />

If you don't want to just change the favicon.ico file in its respective template directory you can find the reference to the favicon.ico file in the html.php document. The path is "........\libraries\joomla\document\html\html.php". This should prevent the icon from toggling if you use

<link rel="shortcut icon" href="" />

in the template html and you don't remove the favicon.ico file. (why call the icon twice?)

From the html.php

// Try to find a favicon by checking the template and root folder
                $path = $directory . DS;
                $dirs = array( $path, JPATH_BASE . DS );
                foreach ($dirs as $dir )
                        $icon =   $dir . 'favicon.ico';
                        if (file_exists( $icon ))
                                $path = str_replace( JPATH_BASE . DS, '', $dir );
                                $path = str_replace( '\\', '/', $path );
                                $this->addFavicon( JURI::base(true).'/'.$path . 'favicon.ico' );