CiviCRM for Drupal 7 and Joomla 1.6

CiviCRM 4.0.0 has been released for the latest Drupal version – 7 and the new Joomla version – 1.6. Up until now it was necessary to install CiviCRM on the older Drupal 6 and Joomla 1.5.

Highlights

  • CiviCampaign has been integrated with other components such as CiviContribute, CiviMember, CiviEvent, CiviMail and CiviEngage
  • Joomla v1.6 introduced an ACL based permissioning system. This gets CiviJoomla to much closer parity with CiviDrupal.
  • CiviMember now allows membership upsell. This allows membership type to be changed on renewal
  • CiviCRM Extensions. You can now browse and download CiviCRM extensions from within your CiviCRM install.
  • A new API – version 3, introduces standardisation of functions, inputs and outputs.

For users of existing Drupal 6 and Joomla 1.5 CiviCRM installs, the simultaneous release of 3.4 for these versions includes the same features.

2020Media provides free installation of CiviCRM on all Drupal and Joomla hosting plans.

Ease of Upgrade – Joomla, WordPress, Drupal

Comparison of the upgrade methods used in Joomla, WordPress and Drupal

the logo's of Joomla, WordPress and DrupalPopular content management systems require updating from time to time. Sometimes this is for new features, often because a security loophole needs patching. In this article we’re not going to look at which CMS most often requires updates, but at the upgrade procedure itself. How easy is it, are the instructions clear and easy to follow, what the potential problems, and what can you do if something goes wrong? At the time of writing new major versions of Drupal (7.0) and Joomla (1.6) have been released and no updates have yet been produced for these releases. We therefore concentrate on the older versions, which run the vast majority of existing sites. Continue reading Ease of Upgrade – Joomla, WordPress, Drupal

Joomla User Group January

With the release of Joomla 1.6 just announced the question on everyone’s lips was: “Should I upgrade?”. After some discussion the group decided that at this point, an upgrade should not be done to an existing site. Only if a new site was being built should Joomla 1.6 be used.

Joomla 1.5 will be fully supported for at least 1 year, so there is time for the new release to settle in, and perhaps easy upgrade tools will be developed.
Some of the developers at the meeting also said they’d not be using Joomla 1.6 just yet as it was likely to contain some bugs and they’d wait for Joomla 1.6.4 (or thereabouts) to be released.

The discussion on Joomla 1.6 moved on to Molajo, which is a package of Joomla components plus some coding changes over the standard Joomla. Molajo was set up fairly recently by some of the people who have had a lot of involvment in Joomla.  It remains to be seen whether it will develop into a true fork of Joomla, or if the features tried out and testing in Molajo will make their way back to the core. Check out Nooku framework too.

The main presentation described how to get started with creating a new Joomla template. Melvyn Phillips showed how to use an off-the-shelf CSS framework to quickly put together a grid based site. Given the complexity of Joomla, creating a new template may seem offputting to many. Melvyn showed us how to create a basic 3 column template from scratch in just 5 minutes.

2020Media was recently asked to take over hosting of a legacy Joomla 1.0 website and we completed the migration successfully this week. The customers website had been broken because their host upgraded their server to a new version of PHP without telling them. At 2020Media we never do this.

For any enquiries about Joomla 1.5, 1.6 or even 1.0, please contact us.

Joomla Performance Tips – Part 1

How to speed up your Joomla website

Joomla Hosting

This part of our performance tips series looks at Joomla based websites and what you can do to get the fastest possible loading times.

So why are loading times important? Recent research by Forrester Research on behalf of Akamai has identified two seconds as the new threshold for acceptable web page response times. With so much choice available on the internet, users just won’t put up with a slow loading page. They’ll hit the back button and go elsewhere. You’ve not only lost a visitor but your brand has been damaged.

Measure, Adjust and Test

Obviously there are complicated and expensive tools available that will test your site from many different locations and produce detailed reports, but free tools like YSlow and Firebug will show you load time reports in your browser. In this article we’ll be looking at Page Speed, a recently released extension for Firefox by Google.

  1. Install Firebug
  2. Download Page Speed
  3. Review the User Guide

Establish a base line speed for a number of pages on your site – try to pick a variety of styles including the home page, and any other popular landing pages. Make a note of the page loading times of some of your competitors websites, so you can benchmark yourself.

If you’re not happy with the results, now it’s time to start making changes!

Joomla Tweaks

1 – Enable Cache

Cache Settings

Enable Joomla’s core content cache.  From the Administrator login, go to  Global Configuration->Cache and Enable. The standard option is File. Depending on your host’s server configuration there may be other options here. The built in Joomla system caches objects. Objects are things such as function calls, modules, content articles, etc. This speeds up the generation for all pages and all visitors. Where it will not help (much) is for pages that require a lot of dynamic content to be generated every time they are loaded.

2 – Enable Gzip Compression

Enable Compression

With this option enabled, the server compresses the page content created by Joomla before sending it to the browser in real-time. The browser then decompresses the content and displays it. The option is enabled in Global Configuration -> Server -> GZIP Page Compression. It’s important to note that not all servers support gzip compression – ask your host, or in Joomla look in Help -> System info. Most web sites gzip their HTML documents, but as a typical web page will have many non-HTML components such as images, CSS and Javascript. It’s therefore worthwhile to compress any text response including XML and JSON. Image and PDF files should not be gzipped because they are already compressed. More tips on compressing CSS and Javascript can be found here.

3 – Choose your template carefully

There are thousands of templates made for Joomla, and a lot of them look stunning, but many have some severe performance penalties.  The problem is that some templates can use upwards of 70 separate images to display the page. Each image requires a separate HTTP request from the browser to the server and has to be downloaded. When testing, try your site under the default Joomla template and you’ll be amazed at the difference. Once you’ve chosen or designed your template, use the Page Speed extension to see if any images used by the template can be optimised further.

4 – Check your Extensions

The Joomla extensions directory contains components that can do just about anything and it’s fair to say most Joomla sites will use a couple at least. However it’s also a fact that some extensions are very inefficient and can slow your site dramatically. Fortunately you simply test if a component is causing problems by temporarily unpublishing it from your site and retesting in Firebug with Page Speed. If you do find a problem, you might be able to find another component that does the same thing.

5 – Optimise your Database

Joomla makes a lot of demands on the backend MySQL server. Regular optimization of your database can help keep things running smoothly. To optimize the tables go into phpMyAdmin (database administration tool), select all tables, and click “optimize”.  To read more about optimizing the database tables,  read this section from MySQL.

6 – Consider upgrading

It may be that your site has now been optimised as well as it can be, and although the page load speeds have improved, you want to take it to the next level. With 2020Media’s virtual server and dedicated server hosting plans, there is a smooth upgrade path. With complete control over the entire server environment, dedicated memory and CPU you can improve your Joomla performance over anything that would ever be possible on a shared hosting account.

Summary

In this article we’ve looked at why the performance of your website is important, how to test load times and  be systematic about testing, and finally looked at some important Joomla performance tips. One thing to remember is that trying these tips is reversible – Some can hurt performance, but most of the time they does help.  The only way to find out is to try it. If in doubt make a backup of your database before making each change.

Notes

The Joomla!® name is used under a limited license from Open Source Matters in the United States and other countries. 2020Media.com is not affiliated with or endorsed by Open Source Matters or the Joomla! Project.

Joomla User Group

Another meeting of the Joomla London User Group took place yesterday in London. The user group is now 2 years old and is attended by about 10 people each monthly meeting.

A useful tip mentioned this meeting was about extending Joomla through the many add-ons available. The central place for find Joomla add-ons is the JED (Joomla Extensions Directory). This directory lists both commercial and free extensions. There are often several extenstions that tackle the same need so it can be hard to know which would be best. We advise that you check the views and reviews show in JED very carefully – if there only a few this can mean that the extension is not particularly popular and may lead to the developer abandoning it.  It’s also worth looking at the ‘last updated’ date next to ‘Views’. Not all extensions need updates of course, but if an add-on has a recent update it’s a sign of an active project.

Joomla Extensions Directory

Some of the user group had been experimenting with Joomla 1.6, the tenth beta of which had just been released. They said there is still a way to go, and there a certain issues that remain unresolved. Clearly the final release isn’t going to appear just yet.

The user group meets on the 3rd Tuesday of each month and you can find out more on their website.

Finally, Joomla!Day 2010 is taking place in Ipswitch, Suffolk from Saturday, 30th October to Sunday, 31st October 2010 inclusive.

Joomla hosting requires a certain environment on the server and 2020Media’s Joomla hosting is designed to deliver exactly the right specification for all Joomla websites.