First Attempts With Joomla

tohI decided to bite the bullet and start migrating to Joomla. I wasn’t expecting much of an issue, since the code bases just forked, so I followed the easy path and copied Joomla over Mambo.

To do so, first create a copy of your Mambo directory:
    cp -a mambo moomla
The moomla directory will be our new playing ground while we test the installation.

Next unpack Joomla into the moomla directory:
    cd moomla
    tar xvzf Joomla_{your version here}.tar.gz

Now it’s time for a first test!
  Joomla should come up under the new URL /moomla and will probably look a little different. In particular, the local mods you’ve made to your template are likely lost (that’s why we had to back it up!). You can fix that easily by copying the locally modified images over the overwritten ones. For changes to code files (PHP), you will have to merge your changes into the Joomla tree. Usually not too bad, and not necessary at all if you didn’t touch any PHP.

Installation Directory

This is a good time to get rid of the pesky installation directory. I usually chmod it to 000, to remove all access for anyone, but not delete it from the installation altogether. The configuration file (configuration.php) is not part of the Joomla installer, so that your old configuration is saved.

Configuration Files

Next, an easy task: your configuration file points to the old installation (mambo) and needs to point to the new one (moomla). We have to change that in 3 locations:

  1. $mosConfig_absolute_path
  2. $mosConfig_live_site
  3. $mosConfig_cachepath

This is a temporary step, since we are going to move the directory back to where it was before we copied it. (Hint: if you are planning to move the directory permanently, all your links inside the text will stil point to the old location)

Search Engine Friendly URLs

I chose to use SEF URLs, which works only with a hack to includes/sef.php – you need to add "index.php/" after the "/" in the line that says return $mosConfig_live_site…

Editing Text

One things that did not work right off the bat was editing. Instead of getting HTMLArea, I got the basic text area, which is a real drag to work with. No font choices, no highlighting, no WYSIWYG…

It looks like for now Joomla looks at its configuration file to determine the editor. Just add a line like this:

$mosConfig_editor = "tmedit"

and you get what you need. Here I used the tmedit editor, a fork of HTMLArea. TinyMCE is included in the distro and would probably work right off the bat.

Is It Worth It?

Not much about Joomla is new, and the pain of configuring everything right should scare you at least a little bit. Most development, right now, is going towards Joomla, and if you feel you want to be dynamic about your option, you’ll probably have to move on at some point.

For the casual user, it’s a bit of overkill. Right now, the only improvement I can see is the Apply button in the editor – which allows you to temporarily save an item before publishing it. That’s quite the advantage, but not quite at the level of first class menu items for editing, for which we will have to wait a little longer…

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