How to Get a Really Good Preview of Joomla Articles

Most of our ideas for tutorials come from people's requests and this is no exception. Someone asked me the other day ... "How can I really see what an article is going to look like when I publish it?".

Normally, if you're writing an article and click Joomla's "Preview" button you get a plain white page with no template, no modules and no styling. The real-life page will look very different. So, here's how to get a really good preview of Joomla articles:

We're going to use a plugin called (appropriately) Better Preview. Here's how you do it:

  1. Download the Better Preview plugin from NoNumber.nl.
  2. In the administration area of your Joomla site, go to Extensions >> Install / Uninstall and upload the file to install. The plugin will publish automatically.
  3. Go to write a new article and a button saying "Preview" will appear in the top-right of your screen.
  4. Click that link to see the article with the correct template, modules and styles.

One extra benefit is that you'll also be able to see the URL of page. Joomla's normal preview appears in a pop-up so you don't know where it will be located.

How to Create New Joomla Module Positions

This is a very simple trick that many people seem to miss ... you can create your own module positions from inside of Joomla. Here's how to do it:

  1. Go to Extensions >> Module Manager and open up any module. You'll see page looking like this:
    How to Create New Joomla Module Positions
  2. Place your cursor in the "Position" box and hit backspace. You'll be able to delete the position name:
    How to Create New Joomla Module Positions
  3. Type in the name of the position that you'd like to create:
    How to Create New Joomla Module Positions
This makes life much easier if you want to use other techniques using modules, including placing modules into articles.

How to Create a Joomla Site Quickly

In our classes we've talk about the SCAM workflow that makes building Joomla 1.5 websites much easier:

  • S: Go to Section Manager and create sections
  • C: Go to Category Manager and create categories
  • A: Go to Article Manager and create articles
  • M: Go to Menus and create menu links

That 4-step process is the key to building a site. A lot of people's confusion with Joomla comes from not knowing about that workflow. They try to create articles first and then realise they have no way to organize them. Or they create sections, categories and articles then wonder why they aren't visible on the site (they haven't made a menu link so that people can see them).

But what if this workflow could be done much more quickly? That's what we're going to explain in this tutorial using a component called MassContent.

  • Step 1: Go to Baticore.com and download Mass Content via this link.
  • Step 2: Go to Extensions >> Install / Uninstall and install the file (called com_masscontent)
  • Step 3: Go to Components >> Mass Content >> Create Mass Sections
  • Step 4: Enter the titles for all your sections, check the box saying "Copy Title to Alias" and then click Save.
How to Create a Joomla Site Quickly
  • Step 5: Go to "Create Mass Categories" and repeat the process. Make sure you put the categories in the correct section, using the dropdown on the right-hand side.
How to Create a Joomla Site Quickly
  • Step 6: Go to "Create Mass Content".
  • Step 7: Click on "Parameters" in the top-right and choose your setting. How many articles do you want to create? Do you want to use the WYSIWYG editor?
  • Step 8: Write your articles. You can either just write the title and fill in the rest later or you can actually create the full articles directly from this screen.

Video on How to Use Mass Content

How to Create a Joomla RSS Feed

  • Step 1: Go to the RSS Feeds section on Joomla.org.
  • Step 2: Download the Ninja RSS Syndicator.
  • Step 3: Install Ninja RSS via the Joomla installer.
  • Step 4: Go to Components >> Ninja RSS and click "New"
  • Step 5: Fill in the information requested. Most of this fields are self-explanatory. You can happily just give your feed a name and click save.

BCA RSS Feed

Collecting Data on Your RSS Feed

  • Step 6: After you've saved your feed, copy the URL or save it into a text editor.
  • Step 7: Go to http://feedburner.google.com and login.
  • Step 8: Enter the URL for your RSS feed into this box:
RSS Feedburner
  • Step 8: Give your feed a name and URL. Make sure to write down the name of your new feed URL.
  • Step 9: Over the next few weeks, you can login back into Feedburner and see detailed information about how many people are subscribing to your feed:

RSS Statistics

Allowing Search Engines and Visitors to Find Your RSS Feed

  • Step 10: Add this to the head of your template:
    <link rel="alternate" type="application/rss+xml" title="RSS 2.0" href="http://feedaddress.com" />
  • Step 11: Go to https://siteexplorer.search.yahoo.com/submit and submit your RSS feed.

How to Create a Blog Using Joomla

People often ask "what's the best blog extension for Joomla?". Our answer: "how about Joomla itself?".

We use Joomla for our blog on alledia.com and get 10s of 1000s of visitors every month. Here's how to set up a blog using Joomla:

  • Step 1: Go to Content >> Section Manager and make a section called "Blog".
  • Step 2: Go to Content >> Category Manager and make categories for your blog. Make sure to assign them to the "Blog" category.
  • Step 3: Go to Content >> Article Manager and write the first few articles for your blog. When you're writing each article, be sure to click the "Read More" button at the bottom of the page to insert the red line. This will create an intro text for the article. Everything before the red line will be the intro. To get to the rest of the article, people will need to click "Read More".

How to Create a Blog Using Joomla

  • Step 4: Go to Menus >> Main Menu >> New >> Articles >> Section Blog Layout and choose the "Blog" section that you created in Step 1.
  • Step 5: Go to the front of your site and click on the new link. If you don't like what you see, you can go back to the menu link from Step 4 and change the "Parameters" on the right-hand side. Common things to change are the number of articles on each page and the number of columns.

Adding Comments

If you'd like to allow people to leave comments to your blog, click here and follow the instructions.

Video on building a blog with Joomla

How to Change the Logo on Joomla Templates

Well, almost any template. This tip works for all but the most complicated templates.

  • Step 1: Go and download the Firefox browser, if you haven't done so yet: http://www.mozilla.com/en-US/firefox/personal.html. Firefox is much better than Internet Explorer or Safari for working on websites.
  • Step 2: We're going to install an extra toolbar for Firefox. It is called the "Web Developer" toolbar. It was already installed on the Firefox we used in the Joomla beginners classes: https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/60
  • Step 3: Click "Add to Firefox" and follow the instructions, including restarting Firefox.
  • Step 4: The next time you open Firefox, you will see a list of links that starts with "Disable", "Cookies", "CSS" and ends in "Options"
  • Step 5: Browse to the website where you want to change the logo. We're going to use http://joomla.org for this example.
  • Step 6: In the toolbar, click on "Images" which is the 5th link from the left. Then click "View Image Information" from the dropdown.
  • Step 7: You will now see a list of all the images on the site.
  • Step 8: Scroll down until you see the logo. You will see two pieces of information about it: Location ( http://cdn.joomla.org/images/logo.png ) and Size ( Width = 235 pixels, Height = 40 pixels ).
  • Step 9: You need to make a new logo that is the same width and height as the old.
  • Step 10: Use your favorite file manager to upload the new logo to the location you found in Step 8. It is better to rename rather than delete the old logo. You could call it logo-backup.png for example.

How to Change the Image Folder in Joomla

In our beginner classes we explain a Joomla quirk ... all images should go in the /images/stories folder to make them easier to use. However, some people are taking over sites where that hasn't been done. Here's how to change the place where images are put:

  • Step 1: Login to the administrator area of your Joomla website.
  • Step 2: Go to Site >> Global Configuration.
  • Step 3: Global Configuration is divided into 3 sections: Site, System, and Server. Click on "System".
  • Step 4: Scroll down to "Media Settings".
  • Step 5: In the field "Path to Image Folder", change where you'd like images to be placed. It is most likely that'll you want to change this from /images/stories to just /images/
  • Step 6: Click Save.

How to Change the Image Folder in Joomla

How to Change the Favicon on Your Joomla Site

The favicon is the small image that people use to identify your site. It appears in their bookmarks, in their browser bar and in any tabs that they have open:

Favicon With Joomla

By default, Joomla uses the official Joomla logo. Here's how to change the image to something that reflects your website:

  • Step 1: Find the image that you'd like to use. The best favicons are normally square and don't have a great of detail.
  • Step 2: Either resize the image yourself to 16 pixels high and 16 pixels wide, or you can use a website such as http://www.favicon.cc to resize it for you.
  • Step 3: Make sure that the image is called favicon.ico
  • Step 4: You will need to upload the image via FTP or your favorite file manager. The location you need to upload to will look like this /templates/your-template-name/. That's all. You don't need to place it in your template's images directory or even Joomla's image directory. Just place it in your template's main folder.

A Note of Caution:

Many browsers use "caching" which means they show a version of the page from several minutes ago. That means that your browser may not show your new favicon immediately. You may need to delete your browser cache (instructions are here) and restart your browser to see the change.

How to Change Joomla's Read More Text

One of the most famous blogging experts is Brain Clark on Copyblogger. He recently wrote a post about the “Click Here problem”.

He quotes research that shows how often people click on different kinds of link:

  • Click to continue”: 8.53%
  • Continue to article”: 3.3%
  • Read more”: 1.8% backend.png

The main problem is that "Read More" doesn't tell people what to do or what they'll be reading about. Well, you can probably guess which of these options Joomla uses by default.

Fortunately, it is possible to make Joomla's Read More more descriptive and useful.

Here's how you do it:

  1. Go to the administrator area of your site and Content >> Article Manager.
  2. In the parameters of your article, under 'Parameters(Advanced)', enter the text you would like the article to use for the Read More link. If you leave this field blank, Joomla will use the default "Read More".
  3. This is how it will look on the front end of your site:

frontend.png

If you don't want to do this yourself for every article, both sh404SEF and SEF Advance are components that will optimize your URLs and also insert the article title into the read more link. Finally, if you're not using either of those, click here to find a code hack available to insert the title automatically (notice what we did? Wink ).

How to Block Spam Registrations in Joomla

If you run a website that allows registration, you're probably familiar with the parade of fake addresses that people use: mickymouse [at] hotmail.com, email [at] email.com and so on. You've also seen spam addresses often ending in .ru, .biz, info or similar.

This week we're going to show you how to check registration emails to make sure they are using legitimate. This can cut down on the number of spam comments, forum posts and other submissions you have to deal with.

We're going to use a plugin called Registration Validator. Here's how you do it:

  1. Register for an account at CEDit.biz and confirm your account.
  2. Log in and Download the Registration Validator plugin.
  3. In the administration area of your Joomla site, go to Extensions >> Install / Uninstall and upload the file.
  4. In the administration area of your Joomla site, go to Extensions >> Plugin Manager >> System - Registration Validator and enable the plugin.
  5. Inside the plugin you can change the settings.

Once the plugin is enabled your registration form will have add another layer of protection to your site from spammers.