From Joomla! Documentation
Welcome to Joomla!, a leading open source Content Management System (CMS) platform. Joomla! is a well-tested, extensible and effective tool supported by a very active and friendly community of developers and users.
This page contain several articles to quickly help you understand the basics of Joomla, and be able to create basic Joomla sites in a short time.
What is Joomla?
If you are a boy from the old school (1990 ish) you may think that web sites still work with a bunch of linked HTML files, Not anymore buddy!, Welcome to century XXI! modern websites runs over Content Management Systems (CMS), this systems runs using dynamic languages like PHP and databases like MySQL databases, this way a CMS can store and manage huge amount of data like thousand of news articles articles.
So in short Joomla is a very flexible CMS that runs on PHP that uses MySQL databases to store the data and let you create websites with dynamic content that will change and adjust to the context or the configuration parameters you provide.
Play with it
Do you want to get started with Joomla!, but you have no idea where to begin? If so, you have come to the right place. The fastest way to learn about Joomla is to start paying with it right now. Visit the demo page and take few minutes to see the demo content and play with the configurations.
Yes right here---> Joomla demo page
The first 2 term you need to learn are "Frontend" and "Backend", the Frontent is the part that shows your site content and all the funny stuff and the Backend is the part that contains the configuration views and it is also the place where you normally manage (create, edit, update) your content. To access to your Joomla site Backend you just need to add the "/administrators" to your Joomla site path in the browser address bar i.e.:
Now that you know how Joomla looks and feel in the frontend and backend is time to you to learn what kind of magic you can do with this new tool of yours.
Note: On the demo page you can chose to use a free trial hosting account, when the trial period expired if you chose to contract a paid hosting account with them, the Joomla! Project will receive a royalty for the transaction, consider this option if you would like to support the project.
What can i do with it?
Joomla is a CMS, a system to manage content, To make a small analogy you can compare Joomla with a computer operative system, for example, on your computer the operative system manages the resources of your computer, also you can install applications to do more things on your computer, in this order of ideas Joomla is the one who is in charge to manage the data and you can install "extensions" to extend and enhance the functions of Joomla.
Joomla comes by default with a bunch of extensions pre-installed and pre-configured to make Joomla works as a News website, but you can manually configure your Joomla site to easily make it works as a:
- Blog site
- Company or Government site
- Contact directory
- Simple product Catalog
Now if your interest is to create more complex sites like:
- eCommerce sites with shopping cart
- Support sites with forums and ticket systems
- News sites with paid subscription system and comment systems
- e-learning sites with paid subscription systems
Then you need to install more Joomla extensions to make your vanilla Joomla site work the way you need. Lots and lots of extensions are for free with no cost at all, and others are extensions commercial, this means that you need to pay a fee to have the right to use them but the normally commercial extensions comes with a tech support deals that will help you save precious time and money, and everybody knows time is gold.
Here at The Joomla Extension Directory you have thousands of extensions to chose from, take some time to visit the directory and do few searches for the sake to get familiarized with it, you may need to use some more extensions in the future if you decide to pimp up your Joomla site.
Maybe a client or your boss is asking you for a web solution with a very specific set of requirements and the information so far does not help you to determine if Joomla is suitable for the job, in order to help you to save some time feel free to visit the Joomla community people and make your questions to humans at:
- The official Joomla Forums
- The official ##Joomla IRC channel (aka chat room)
- The official Facebook group
Now that you had enough fun playing with the Joomla demo site you may want to go the next level and start messing around with extensions and templates to see how they do in your very own local test server or your rented web server.
Follow one of this tutorials that suits you better.
Note: This tutorials are targeted for non-expert audience, if you need more detailed and advanced information go to the Developers page.
Understanding How Joomla Works
To keep this introductory article as short and friendly as possible we can say that Joomla have tow main parts, the Frontend and the Backend, as explained before the Frontend shows the site content that any visitor can see and the Backend is the administrative part that is normally restricted for users with privileges such as administrators.
Taking a quick look at the average website we can conclude that most of them have this basic layout:
- Main menu
- Main content
- Side content (left or right of main content)
In Joomla a template is the one in charge to determine the layout and disposition of those chunks of data described in the previous list, also a template is the one used to determine the font types, colors, styles and the presentation in general.
Now you may wonder what is used to render each of those chunks of data, and the answer is modules and components. Joomla depends on extensions (components, modules, plugins) to render chunks of information that have certain characteristics, for example, for small and compact chunks of data like header, main menu, side content and footer Joomla uses Modules who are meant to be use for that kind of data, but for the main content of the page that tend to be a very large and dynamic chunk of data, the element in use is the component.
There are several kinds of plugins and they are categorized depending on the job they do, For example, A content plugin can be used to manipulate data before it is rendered on the page, an authentication plugin is a plugin that can give you the ability to login in a Joomla site using Google accounts or Facebook accounts.
- Templates: Defines the site layout and visual styles.
- Component: Used to render large chucks of dynamic data.
- Modules: Used to render compact and normally static chunks of data.
- Plugins: They are used to extend the Joomla functions and manipulate data.
Both the frontend and the backend uses templates and extensions. Is a normal thing that many Joomla sites uses different templates on the frontend and leave the backend with the default template but you can always install a custom 3rd party template for the backend to have a different look and feel.
Note: Since most developers creates extensions based on how the default administrative template looks and work you may experience bugs and visual glitches with 3rd party administrative templates, so we recommend the use of the default Joomla template, most tutorials and documentation screenshots in general are based on the default Joomla administrative template.