Getting Started with Templates
This introductory tutorial will give you an insight into the Joomla! templating system and what you can do with it.
- 1 What is the purpose of a template?
- 2 What can you do with a template?
- 3 Templates supplied with Joomla!
- 4 Switching templates
- 5 Installing a template
What is the purpose of a template?
A template controls the overall look and layout of a site. It provides the framework that brings together common elements, modules and components as well as providing the cascading style sheet for the site. Both the front-end and the back-end of the site have templates.
When Joomla! is first installed several templates are automatically included. You can find many more templates at other websites. Some are available without charge under various licenses, and some are for sale. In addition, there are many developers available who can make custom templates. You can also make your own template.
Templates are managed with the Template Manager, which is located on the Extensions menu in the back-end (administrator) area of your site.
Why does Joomla! use templates? [A real beginners guide!]
The way Joomla! is designed separates out the key tasks involved in producing a website for efficient maintenance of the software. One of these tasks is to create the aesthetic (the look, feel and layout) of the site. This includes making decisions such as which content elements (components, modules and plugins) you may want to place in any given page.
When producing a web page, the location of most elements will stay the same (menus, banner locations, sidebars etc.). Additionally, you will want to create the same look (fonts, header styles, colour scheme etc.) for every page. For some parts of the site you may want to alter the general feel to indicate a different purpose for those pages (such as a blog section). A little planning is required for this, but once you have settled on the overall layout for your site, you then have the task of producing each page of content.
And that’s where the template comes in. You can either write all the code for each page separately, or use a template for each major section of your site so that when you want to create a new page you simply “fill in the blanks”. Okay, perhaps it's not that simple, but this tutorial is designed to give you a step by step guide for effective template use, starting with how to use one and ending with how to create one for yourself.
- Use one of the templates supplied with Joomla!
- Download one of the many free offerings from the Internet.
- Pay for one to be modified or produced from scratch if your needs cannot be met any other way.
Summary – a template controls the look of your site and makes your life a great deal easier when creating new pages.
For further details on what you can achieve with templates go the next section, “What can you do with a template?”
What can you do with a template?
A template is used to manipulate the way content is delivered to a web browser or screen reader. Here are some ways you can employ this on your Joomla!-powered site.
The template is the place where the design of the main layout is set for your site. This includes where you place different elements (components, modules, and plugins), which are responsible for different types of content. For example: The various menus (you can chose from existing options and create your own) Advertising banners Polls The main body of the page (you can select from different styles such as typical blog layout, a news article, etc.)
If the template is designed to provide choices, you can also "dynamically" alter the content placement on your site, perhaps putting the main menu on the right or left side of the screen.
Using CSS within the template design, you can change the colors of your backgrounds, text, links or just about anything that you could within your ordinary (X)HTML code.
Images and Effects
You can also control the way images are displayed on the page, and even create flash-like effects or include AJAX applications such as drop-down menus.
The same applies to fonts. The designs for these are all set within the template's CSS file(s) to create a uniform look across your entire site, which makes it fantastically easy to change the whole look just by altering one or two files rather than every single page.
Browser Specific Solutions
A template can be designed to alter how it displays on different web browsers, allowing you to take full advantage of the latest developments without making your site inaccessible to those who are not able to run "up-to-the-minute" system upgrades (such as certain companies who limit what software their employees can use).
Templates supplied with Joomla!
The following templates are supplied with a default installation of Joomla! 1.5:
- Milky Way (this is the default template).
- See also: Customising the Milky Way template
- See also: Customising the Beez template
- JA Purity
- See also: Customising the JA Purity template
Installing a template
Install via Admin Panel (packed template file)
Log into the back-end of your site (www.your-site.com/administrator/)
Click on: Extensions -> Install/Uninstall
You see the page "Extension Manager"
From here you can install your Templates, Plugins, Modules, Components and Languages. You have three options:
- Upload Package File - (select a package from your PC, upload and install it)
- Install from Directory - (enter the path where the package is located on your server)
- Install from URL - (enter the URL to the package)
Here, we choose the first method: Upload Package File
Select the package from your PC and click the button "Upload File & Install"
If the package contains no errors you are done and get a success message like the one below.
Install via FTP (unpacked template file)
Templates can also be installed via FTP without packaging them. Simply select the template folder on your PC and upload it to your server, using your favorite FTP software. Be sure you upload the template folder to the directory: /path_to_joomla/templates/ - where /path_to_joomla/ is the location of your Joomla! installation on the server. This method is mostly used when you have created a template yourself, and do not want to have to package it to install the template, or if you want to upload more than one template at once.
Note: Do not try to use FTP to install Components, Modules and Plugins if you are a beginner/novice. These items need database entries which have to be inserted manually if you bypass the package installer.