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Book Review: Using Joomla: Building Powerful and Efficient Web Sites by Ron Severdia and Kenneth Crowder

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Using Joomla is an introductory book that provides the reader with an overview of the Joomla content management system (CMS) by going through the definitions of the features and basic aspects of the system. However, if you're a complete beginner without much comprehension of CSS, XAMP or MAMP — if you've never seen a cPanel on a hosting service provider — and you are looking for a how-to on creating a Joomla website or blog, this book will not provide much guidance. Using Joomla is probably more useful for those who are familiar with using hosting services, CSS, and web design in general but who are interested in learning the basics of Joomla.

The book starts off with a chapter that takes the reader through the installation of Joomla via the Fantastico installer. What's needed for this is access to a Fantastico enabled hosting service (the reader will need to research which hosting service is best on her own). If you prefer to install Joomla without bothering with Fantastico, the book has an appendix that provides an outline of the steps to take, thought it seems that this is not something that the beginner would find easy. Alternately, it is possible to install Joomla on a local web server running on your PC or Mac via XAMP or MAMP, but the book does not cover this process in very much detail, giving the entire process, which can be tricky for a novice, only a paragraph.

Assuming that you install the Joomla CMS successfully on your host (local or remote), the book takes you on a tour of the Joomla administration panel. The chapter, however, gives only definitions of the panel features and the basics without much granularity or specific examples, setting the tenor of the general approach in the rest of the chapters that follow. Subsequent chapters cover all of the basic aspects of the system such as the global configuration of a website, content planning and preparation, article creation, menu structure, discussion of components, modules, extensions, plug-ins, templates, user management, SEO, security, as well as converting a site to Joomla. The book even provides a look at Joomla 1.6 and has a number of appendices.

While the book does cover many aspects of the Joomla CMS, it fails to do more than provide definitions and a basic discussion. There are no examples on how to actually create any specific website, for instance. Without examples, the discussion cannot do otherwise but tend toward the general, which may disappoint some readers looking for a more in-depth treatment.

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About A. Jurek

A. Jurek is one of the editors at Blogcritics. Contact me at: a.jurek@blogcritics.org
  • Mark

    I have developed a bespoke CMS so I can state that Joomla is one of the best open source content management systems available on the internet to date.