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Open Source Central: Joomla 3.1 and Articles

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Please don’t be intimidated by Joomla!.  Please.  Give it a try, do some research; take your time to learn something new.  I know you can do it.  I believe in you.  What you’ll end up discovering is something awesome.

Don’t be like me.  Don’t live in regret.

I, too, was convinced that I could never learn to use Joomla!.  But, then again, I was intimidated by all content management systems (CMS) before I started really trying to learn them.  I didn’t think it was something I could figure out much less something I could excel at and even become a resource from which others could learn.  Then, a friend of mine, Christi, taught me WordPress.  (Christi’s currently the Technical Team Lead in our Design Department, so she’s an awesome source from which to learn.)

It was a snowball effect from there.  I built a lot of sites with WordPress and loved it.  But, I wanted to learn more, so I ventured into some of the other free software we offer through Softaculous.  I was still intimidated by Joomla! though.  Everything I read about it made it something I wanted to learn, but it is so different from other CMS software I had been working with, I was convinced it was beyond me.  The truth of the matter is, of course, that I didn’t put in the time and effort to learn something new.

But, a few months ago, I decided to install Joomla! on two of my personal blogs and give it a try.  From that moment on, I was challenged to change my perspective.  But, more importantly, I discovered something:  Joomla! is actually very easy to use.  It also comes with a lot options that aren’t available in other CMS software.

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I think the most confusing part of Joomla! for most people is the lingo.  It’s different from other sources, but the meaning behind the words is the same.  Once you have a firm grasp of what everything means, it all starts to click into place.  So, in order to help get you started in using Joomla!, we are going to explain what Articles are and how they are used in Joomla!. This will help demystify the software and afford you a bit more comfort when reading up on what Joomla! is and how to use it.  So, study up, there will be a quiz at the end. (Probably. But, probably not.)

Articles = Web pages. 

Don’t be confused because it says “articles”.  The truth of the matter is that articles are both static pages and individual posts or listed posts (if you are going for a blog).  They are all referred to as Articles in Joomla!

When using Articles as static pages, you first need to create an article.  This tells Joomla! that you are going to have a page based on that title.  I always start my Joomla! designs by brainstorming on paper (Yep, pen and paper.  Call me old fashioned, but it really helps me see what I’m doing) the pages I would like to see on the site.  Joomla! is easiest when you have an idea of the content you will want on your website.  While you can of course make changes and update the information, it is best to have an idea of where you want the site to go before starting to build the site.

If your intention is to have the article act as a static page, you will need to take one more step when creating the article.  You will need to go into the “Article Options” (either while you are creating the article, or by clicking on the article title in “Article Manager”.  Everything that is set to “Use Global” should be changed to “Hide” or “No”.  This will prevent odd information, like the article title, creation date, and author from showing up on the pages you create.  While this is perfect for a blog page, it can be confusing on a static page.

My suggestion is to create blank Articles for the pages you want to see on your site.  So, for example, if you want a page on your site titled “Reviews” you would first create an article (Content – Article Manager – Add New Article) make the title “Reviews” and then leave the content area blank.  You can then add this to the menu (Menus – Main Menu – Add New Menu Item) and select “Single Article” (Menu Item Type – Articles – Single Article) for the Menu Item Type.  This will allow you to select the article you just created and will generate the blank webpage on your site.  You can then add modules to customize the appearance of the page.

If you are looking for a blog look, you can go through the same process of adding the page to the menu, but instead of selecting “Single Article” you have a few options to have a page of posts.  You can select featured articles, which will pull up articles that you label as “featured”.  This, however, may be a problem if you are using an image rotator or another module that pulls from the featured articles.  Then everything you want in your blog would also be pulled by that module.  A better option would be to select “Category List” which will pull from a selected category.  If you are only having one blog page, you can create a category called “Blog” or something to that effect and use the “Blog” category when selecting which category that page should pull from.   Choosing “Category List” will also allow you to have multiple blog pages by selecting a different category for each page.  You will just need to create a category for each of those topics.  (Content – Category Manager – Add New Category).

So, remember, when working with Joomla! an article is a web page.  You can set up any article in any manner through the use of the menu options and modules.  This will help get you started in the world of Joomla!

2 thoughts on “Open Source Central: Joomla 3.1 and Articles

  1. Pete

    Czaja, Thanks for posting this article. I just jumped into Joomla! to put together a nice website for old family photos. I too have been challenged by the unique Joomla! jargon. Please continue teaching us with this series.
    – Pete

    Reply
  2. Dave

    I did a upgrade to joomla and lost everything on my website. It deleted everything. Bad experience I don’t want to repeat.

    Reply

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