My Top 10 JOOMLA 1.5 Annoyances



Hot on the heels of my last Joomla article My Top 10 Joomla 1.5 Extensions, here’s another Joomla list. This time my top 10 Joomla annoyances.

We all have them no matter what CMS we’re using, but the following are a list of mine, in no particular order.

1. Weblinks

This component is included in the default install of Joomla. From its title you would guess that it allows you to create a page of links. It does this, but truly little more.

You can add the name, url and a description, but that’s it. If you want to add a picture or even some basic html you’re just out of luck.

No seriously, you can’t add a picture or even some markup to bold or underline. Wow.

But now for the truly useless part. The links created by this component all have some sort of ridiculous redirect built into them. So when you mouseover with the intention to click the link, you’ll notice that the address is the url of the site you’re currently on, with some sort of re-written url. You really can’t see where it actually goes until you click it.

I’m not sure exactly if this has any SEO repercussions, but it sure has repercussions if you trade links with other site owners and they check to see if the link is active and all they can find is this screwy link that doesn’t look like it goes to their site.

So anyway this is bogus and puts the onus back on you to find a decent way to make what should be some simple weblinks. If you’re wondering what to use, try SOBI2. It’s a directory component that will do something like this with ease, and with photos and html, too.

If they would actually fix/bolster the default weblinks component so that it worked out of the box that would remove some extra effort on the part of the user.

NOTE: I’ve downloaded the 1.6 beta and installed it on my local machine. The redirect issue is NOT fixed. Damn.

Although it does look as if they tried to rectify the lack of links/images in the weblink body copy. The default TinyMCE editor was in place. So I was able to add an image and a link, however, neither the link nor image appeared when I viewed the page.

Going back into the Weblink revealed that the link and image were not saved, no matter how many times you do it. This is obviously a bug so I’m going to see if this one is reported yet. If not I’ll submit it myself.

2. Title attributes

This one is a really unfortunate accessibility pet-peeve of mine. To me, every link that Joomla generates should at least have an auto-generated title attribute on the link for pop-ups and screen readers.

If we’re gonna do this all the way, whenever you create a link, Joomla (and ALL CMS’s) should have fields for every single last attribute that you can set for that link. As it stands now, Joomla is supposed to be this be-all end-all CMS, but I can’t even add a tooltip?

Depending on your level of skill you can try using a template override to add in the php code to fill in the title attribute with the alias field, but again, why should you have to do that? This should have been something included when 1.5 came out. These things were well known at that time.

I’ve resorted to using Extended Menu on my menus mostly because it provides a rudimentary title attribute with it.

NOTE: Again with the 1.6 Beta. I’ve noted a ‘Link Title Attribute’ fieldĀ in the Metadata options panel of the ‘Edit Menu item’ screen. Unfortunately when I added anything to that field it didn’t show up.

At least they’re heading in the right direction.

3. Add css ID or class to “Body” tag

I’ve been bitching about this one for a long time. It really burns my britches.

If you can add an ID to your “Body” tag, then you can easily target only the elements of a certain page. Really , it makes this so easy and so efficient, just like CSS is supposed to do.

Unfortunately in Joomla, you don’t have access to the body tag. Sure you have access to the template, but if you add an ID in there, then every page will have that same Body ID, defeating the purpose entirely.

There are workarounds to this problem that have to do with adding php code to grab the menu ID of the menu item you used to get to that page, fill it in in the body id attribute, and thus give you a way to target that page.

The only problem with that is sometimes pages aren’t accessed through a menu item, and in that instance you’re screwed.

What Joomla does now is the dreaded “page class suffix”/”menu class suffix”. This allows you to add an extension to the usual Joomla generated classes. Say that the normal one is “contentpaneopen”. In the Joomla menu screen you’ll fill in the “page class suffix” field with “_myclass” (without quotes).

Now when you get to the page of your menu item instead of “contentpaneopen”, all items with that class will now be “”contentpaneopen_myclass”. This will allows you to specifically target those html items you need.

The problem here is that it’s an awful lot of ugly and completely unnecessary markup cluttering up your page. Also it changes things that you may not need changed, so then you’ll have to add more code to your CSS file to fix that stuff.

Every time Joomla is going to generate a page, there should be a field for the BODY tag of that page. Then you’ll just fill in what you want and only add one tiny bit of markup to the html. It’s just so efficient, but they don’t do it, even after 18(!) updates to Joomla 1.5. It’s pretty ridiculous.

It’s almost the exact same thing as the page class suffix! You fill in a field and it puts the code where you need it to go. I just can’t believe they haven’t done this in all these years.

I don’t know of any extension that does this, unfortunately.

NOTE: Get this. In the 1.6 Beta, there’s still a field in there to add a damn ‘Page Class’ to all the elements of the page. These guys just don’t get it do they?

4. No default comments

In this day and age (even when 1.5 debuted), comments are a staple of the net. They are expected, and sometimes when I happen across a blog or site that doesn’t have comments it seems strange to me. I usually wonder if there was a problem or if they just didn’t want to deal with the hassle.

Anyway, Joomla 1.5 comes without any comment functionality by default. This again puts the ball back in your court when you have to go and sift through the JED and try to find the best comment system for your site.

Now, if Joomla included one by default, that doesn’t necessarily mean that it would be the right choice for everyone, but if it was a decent system with some spam filtering then it would probably be good enough for most users.

In my opinion, they should make Akismet sign-up and key entering a very automated part of the process to cut down on spam.

NOTE: Oh yeah, there won’t be any default comment system in Joomla 1.6, either. It’s really unfortunate that they can’t get it together.

5. No override of plugins

I mentioned template overrides before, and this is a part of Joomla I really love.

The basics are that you have your regular Joomla core file, then you duplicate this and put it in a specific location. Joomla knows to check that spot first, and if it finds a file there, it will use that file instead of the core file. This way you can make changes without worrying about if updates will break your site.

Most of the time, anyway. If you are overriding Components or Modules, then you’re fine, but if you want to override a plugin, you can’t. You have to modify the core file itself and remember to keep an eye on it when the updates come down the pipe.

I had a site where I was modifying the article navigation plugin and every frickin’ update that came out they modified that file, so I had to re-do my changes over and over (I made sure to note my changes in detail). Man, what a PITA.

6. E-commerce is awful

Joomla and E-Commerce do NOT go together. I’ve used pretty much everything there is at some point, Virtue-Mart, IXXO Cart, iJoomla Digistore, Easy Paypal and some other ones that I don’t remember the names to now.

Not one of them is without some serious drawback or another. Virtue-Mart is the WORST offender. At times I’ve had trouble even getting it to install, much less work. It’s buggy and not well supported by the developers.

Here’s the crazy thing about Virtue-Mart, people either hate it, or they LOVE it. If you read the comments on the JED, you’ll see that to some folks it was the answer to their prayers, while others like me could barely get it running at all. And this piece of crap is an EDITOR’S PICK? Shameful…

It just seems like if you’re one of the chosen ones, then it’ll work great for you, but if not, then you’ll have a bunch of code-wrangling and bug-squashing ahead of you. Good luck if it’s for a client, you might as well just pull your hair out now.

7. Uploading images one at a time/no resizing

You’ll find that when trying to upload an image into your article or into the Media Manager, you can only upload one at a time. Aargh.

This is very annoying. Look at WordPress, in the WP backend you can upload multiple images at once AND it generates thumbnails AND resizes the images using the server-side software you have installed in your hosting account.

Joomla does not do this, so you have to make your own thumbnails, all the different sizes you may need, and then upload them one at a time. Very, very annoying. If you’re used to FTP like me you can always upload all your images through there instead to save time, but I sure do appreciate not having to do this in WordPress.

NOTE: Tried this in the 1.6 beta. Not a damn thing changed, y’all. No multiple file uploading, no resizing on the fly. Damn damn damn…

8. Only one category per article

At first this didn’t bother me too much. I would rarely write something that should belong in two categories, anyway. Then I started using WordPress (again), and I saw how easy it was to just check the boxes and have your article show up in whatever number of categories I wanted.

Joomla’s default install really makes it tough on you if you want to have an article in more than one category. You literally have to duplicate the article and assign it to the new category, thus adding extra size to your database and potentially adding duplicate content worries to your site.

It’s one of the oft-complained about missing features of Joomla and it’s turned out to be one of mine, too.

Luckily, there’s numerous CCK (Content Construction Kit) extensions to help with this. These include K2 and Flexicontent are probably the best known of these.

NOTE: 1.6 Beta. If there’s a way to assign multiple categories, I sure don’t see it in the build I have. All I see it the same old pull-down menu that only lets you choose one category.

If there is a way, it’s not intuitive enough to know about from a cursory run-through, which in itself is not good news.

9. Can’t add article to menu automatically

I came in at the tail end of Joomla 1.0 and barely used it, but from what I read, back then you had the ability to choose which menu item you were going to assign an article to, or create the menu item from there.

That you can’t do this now is another PITA that results in wasted time and a whole lot of wasted clicks.

NOTE: This is not a feature included in the 1.6 upgrade. :(

10. RSS issues

Joomla default RSS sucks. What I mean by this is that even though Joomla does provide an RSS feed by default, that feed is almost useless to you.

If you want to be able to track the number of people subscribing to the feeds, you’ll need to use some kind of service like Feedburner. Except Feedburner won’t take the default Joomla RSS feeds, so you’ll have to install an RSS extension like NinjaRSS to provide to Feedburner.

More hassle that’s really unnecessary if Joomla could just get it together.

NOTE: When I tried to get the feed url from my local install, I was given the option of RSS 2.0 or Atom 1.0. This is a whole lot better than what you got with 1.5.

I didn’t try to add the feed to Feedburner since it was my own localhost and not live on the web, but I suspect it should work better.

So that’s my ten Joomla annoyances for now. I’m doing a lot more WordPress these days, and even though I have many gripes with WP, I think a lot of those come from not knowing the ins and outs of it as much as I should.

Anyway hopefully if you have any Joomla issues they’re easily overcome. Feel free to email me or comment with any questions.

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