The Difference Between a Joomla Plugin, Module, and Component

New users to Joomla 2.5 often ask, “What is the difference between a plugin, module, and component?” All three are referred as extensions, as they extend the basic functionality of Joomla and add additional features. In this tutorial we’ll explain what sets apart plugins, modules, and components.

What is a Plugin?

When you think of a Joomla 2.5 plugin, think of it as an extension that changes something.

A real life exampleA Joomla 2.5 example
In a real life example, think of your website as a car. A sub-woofer installed in a car changes the existing sound from your stereo and adds more bass.

( CHANGES sound in a car, adds bass )

In a previous tutorial we installed a Joomla 2.5 social media plugin that adds facebook and twitter buttons to the end of an article. The plugin changes the article and adds the like buttons to the bottom.

What is a Module?

When you think of a Joomla 2.5 module, think of a box that you can place at various parts of your page. This box doesn’t change anything, instead it allows you to add something new.

A real life exampleA Joomla 2.5 example
In a real life example, if your website is thought of as a car (without a stereo), a new stereo in a car adds the addition of music and sound.

( ADDS FEATURES to a car, sound and music )

In a previous article we installed a Joomla 2.5 module that shows latest articles written. We placed this “box” of content in the right sidebar, but we can easily change the position so it shows anywhere else on the page.

What is a Component?

When you think of a Joomla 2.5 component, think of brand new functionality.

A real life exampleA Joomla 2.5 example
Continuing with our car analogy, adding wings to a car give it the new functionality of flight. While cars generally drive on wheels, the addition of flight adds brand new functionality.

( ADDS FUNCTIONALITY to a car, they normally drive but with wings now can fly )

In a previous article, we installed a Joomla 2.5 forum component. With a standard installation of Joomla, the main focus is writing articles. The addition of a forum adds brand new functionality to a Joomla site. The forum can also have its own modules and plugins. For example, it may include a module that shows latest forum posts in your sidebar. It may also include a plugin that changes the default formatting to forum posts to show gravatars.

Getting your mind wrapped around plugins, modules, and components may be a bit difficult at first. The more you work with them, the more the concept should make sense. They are all Joomla 2.5 extensions and add more tools and functionality to your site. In the end, this easy way to improve your Joomla 2.5 website makes it that much better of a Content Management System.

Was this article helpful? Let us know!