Getting Started with Joomla!

From Joomla! Documentation

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Joomla! is one of the most popular, free and open-source content management systems (CMS) available for publishing web content. It is user friendly, extendable, multilingual, accessible, responsive, search engine optimised and so much more. Joomla! 4 is the current version, released in August 2021.

Joomla! must be installed on a web server, either on your own computer for private testing purposes or a hosting service to make your content available to the rest of the world.

There are thousands of free and commercial Joomla! extensions available from third parties for all sorts of special purposes. However, Joomla! comes with enough core extensions to allow you to create a fully functional web site. It is best to familiarise yourself with the core Joomla capabilities before looking for third party extensions.

Understanding Joomla![edit]

If you're having trouble visualizing how Joomla! works, it might be useful for you to think of Joomla! as an Operating System (OS), like Microsoft Windows, Apple Mac OS or Linux. The most important similarity is that your OS uses Applications and Joomla! uses Extensions to do something useful.

Further similarities and differences can be found in the following table.

Comparison Table[edit]

Joomla! concept Operating System concept
Extension Added Application (e.g. Word, Chrome, Music Player, Photoshop)
Core extensions Built-in applications (e.g. Start button, Screen Saver, File Search)
Database File system (one type of Files)
File system File system (another type of Files)
Viewing a page Using an application (Added or Built-in)
Updating Joomla! Installing updates for your OS (Security patches and bug fixes)
Migrating between Joomla! versions Installing a new version of your OS, for example moving from MS Windows 7 to MS Windows 10.

What You Will Need[edit]

A Hosting Environment[edit]

  • On your own laptop or desktop. Install a WAMP or XAMP or LAMP stack. This looks daunting but is usually very easy and may be installed already along with your operating system. The W stands for Windows, the X for Mac OS X and L for Linux, your OS software; the A stands for Apache, the web server software; the M stands for MySQL (or MariaDB), the database software; the P for PHP, a widely use web scripting language. You should also install phpMyAdmin to create a Database and Database User.
    • Check whether your OS provides the appropriate stack. If it does, check that it is installed or install it. If not, search the web for a download site. All of this software is free! You should not need to pay or provide any personal details.
    • If stuck, try XAMPP which is a free pacakge used to install and manage all of the required components, except Joomla. It works on all platforms. WAMP is restricted to Windows.
  • On a Hosting Service. Almost all will provide the necessary environment. However, the cheapest may have over-restrictive php.ini settings so it is best to check the recommended settings in the Installing Joomla tutorial with what a proposed hosting service provides.

An Installed Copy of Joomla![edit]

This is described in more details in the Installing Joomla! tutorial.

  • Download the latest version of Joomla to your local computer from the Joomla site.
  • Move or copy it to the root of your web site, uncompress it and give the folder a short name.
  • Install Joomla!.
    • Installing with Sample Data allows you to to explore a Joomla! site before you have created one for your own content.


  • Use a Demo Installation. Many hosting services or script installer sites offer 'demo' versions of a Joomla! installation. You will at least be able to make changes, but they will not be permanent. 'Demo installations' are reset back to a 'fresh' installation state at regular intervals.
  • One-click Installation. Many hosting services offer a one-click installation of popular web site programs.

Alternatives are likely to come with their own problems and are probably best avoided!

Upgrading an Existing Site[edit]

If you have inherited an existing site you may need to follow the Upgrading from an Existing Version tutorial.

Getting Started Tutorials[edit]

Summing it all up[edit]

  • Articles are the main type of web site content.
  • Categories create an organisational hierarchy to control web site content.
  • Menus provide a navigational method to use or browse the web site content (pages).
  • Modules provide a means to combine web site content (Articles) with other information.
  • Templates control the look of a Joomla! web site.