Joomla User Group Report

The London Joomla user group meeting took place on 21 October 2014. I went along and this is my report.


The London meetup takes place every month on the 3rd Tuesday. More details can be found at the user group’s dedicated website at

The meeting started with general news on Joomla.

We were reminded that several security fixes have been released recently and these should be applied by website administrators as soon as possible.

One of the meeting regulars, Hugh, is a JED maintainer (the JED is the Joomla Extension Directory and is where you’ll find all the possible extensions, plugins and components to Joomla). Hugh reported that there is a new version of the JED imminent. However unlike the last overhaul, extensions will not need to be resubmitted.

Our discussion then moved onto some general tips for Joomla developers.

A useful tip for developers was that right-clicking and viewing source in Firefox/Chrome will highlight in red any unclosed tags.

We learned that Chrome’s developer mode has an option for viewing a site as if it was on a mobile device, along with connection speeds. However some users said it wasn’t very accurate.

Phil and Joe from SoftForge demonstrated the useful ability to set breakpoints in code within Chrome, which is a useful technique for debugging Javascript – and extremely helpful if using AJAX.

Hugh gave us a useful demo of a recently built site for a client and demonstrated some beautiful design techniques.

We then listened to two talks which had been given at the recent Joomla Day event.

Hugh Douglas-Smith
Hugh Douglas-Smith

Workflows with Joomla and Administrator Shortcuts. Both presented by Hugh. Hugh’s company can be found at

Workflows with Joomla

Hugh presented a walkthrough of creating a workflow using off-the-shelf Joomla components. The example given was a website that offers loan applications.

The workflow given was for a customer to apply for a loan and then the various steps of processing the application being setup and viewable.

The technique used was using User Groups to keep track of the different stages. Menu items are given permission such that they are only visible to specific user groups, and the user is moved from group to group as they progress through the process.

The first stage, where the user submitted the form required some custom PHP code to change the usergroup for the user, and to refresh the session so that the user immediately saw the updated menu.

Administrator Shortcuts

Too many to mention but a few highlights for me:

  • Parameters can be added to a menu link
  • User redirects on login
  • Language overrides can be used to include variables
  • Article Editor can be customised per user – very useful if giving to a non-skilled user
  • Removing Unused CSS Selectors from a Website – the Dust-me browser plugin
  • What software is that website running – another browser plugin:
  • Making notes/messages appear in Admin – this is done within the Module Manager.
  • Create a “Standard” install if you regularly build sites by using Akeebabackup.

For the final part of the meeting we talked about our favourite extensions and more Joomla news.

A particlualry useful extension which most of us had not heard about was Kazaaman automatic menu manager. Whenever a new article is created, this plugin will create a menu item for it.

This is a plugin that creates a menu, and automatically maintains it. You can see the menu in your Joomla menu manager, and use it exactly like any other menu. It is a tree menu, and it maintains your category and article tree structure perfectly in your new menu.

KazaamOf particular interest to me, was the revelation that Joomla is so dependent on menus that if you create articles that aren’t linked in menus (I tend to link only the top level of a site to the main menu, and then link within articles to other articles), Joomla really doesn’t like this and you will see in the url that it’s created a baffling structure of sub-categories. If however every article belongs in a menu, then this does not happen and you can control your url structure. The menu does not need to be shown – it can be inactive.

Finally, Joomla 2.5 LTS is coming to end of life in December 2014. This means the Joomla team will no longer be providing security and other updates to it. The LTS stands for Long Term Support, and there will be a version of Joomla 3 that will become the new LTS version in due course. The new mechanism for this is that Joomla 3.x will continue with regular releases until Joomla 4 comes along. At that point, the final released version of Joomla 3.x will become the LTS version.

If you’d like to know more about Joomla, need help with your website, or would like to see the services 2020Media offers for Joomla, please see:

London WordPress Meetup Report

April Meetup
April Meetup at Shoreditch Works Village Hall

The topics at this months meetup were entitled:

  • Handling WP user generated content
  • Use WP to find clients
  • WP Security
  • Cleaner themes.

User generated content

The first talk was by Graham Armfield of Coolfields, who is known as Mr Accessibility. But this month he almost managed to talk about something completely different! Accessibility came  in sideways with an aside about captchas vs logic puzzles.

Graham Armfield at April Meetup
Graham Armfield

Graham’s talk was about handling user generated content – this means input to the website via a form or upload box – without requiring a login. Grahame gave us a run down of the steps needed to take input from a form on a wordpress website, process it, allow an admin to moderate it and then publish the data on a page. He used a gig guide as an example.

If you’re interested in learning more, his slides are available here

Another useful tip was the the popular Ninjaforms plugin offers a logic puzzle anti-spam test, which is apparently much better from an accessibility point of view.

Using WordPress to find clients

The next talk was from Rob Cubbon and entitled “Using WordPress to find clients”. In practice this talk was about optimising your site or online presence to attract and then convert vistors into clients. Rob talked about carefully choosing keywords with buying intent, creating specificity in your pages, not generallity. Example being writing detailed tutorials on how to do something – a subject hopefully you are an expert and authoritative on. Creating a call to action on every page. Adding key phrases to page titles and headlines. He also recommended creating in-depth profiles on social media sites for freelancers as it’s likely prosopective clients will research these when selecting somone.

Tools to help include Google keyword tool and Google Rich Snippets.

WordPress Security

Duncan Stuart gave us all a wake up call with his fascinating talk on WordPress Security. Duncan’s company works mostly for government departments or agencies and they spend a lot of time working on security. Duncan began with telling us that the well-known Jetpack plugin, has been suffering from a security weakness that allowed spammers to publish their own content on websites. He then went through a set of examples of types of attack and some well known plugins that have (in the past) had vulnerabilities that have allowed these attacks.

Duncan then gave some advice on improving WordPress security. The first point of call being the Hardening WordPress Codex page. He recommended choosing plugins carefully as these can be a very weak part of the WordPress ecosystem. Look for high numbers of downloads, recent updates and an active support forum.

He wrapped up with tips on writing a good plugin or theme so that our own work does not become part of the problem.  His company runs a free resource at

The essential Pizza
The essential Pizza – Cleaner Themes

After a break, the final talk was from Adam Onishi. The company he works for recently built the new iteration of washing powder brand Persil. It was a great insight into a complicated build that spanned 20 countries with many competing requests from different parts of the Persil marketing departments.

Adam’s mission was to keep the site management under as tight a control as possible so that updating and changes could be made as simple and straightforward as possible. To this end, the entire global prescence of 35 websites runs from a single WordPress multisite installation.The second vital ingredient was Parent/Child themes. This has allowed extensive localisation of design and content.

Adam went through some code examples, the tools he and his team used to build the site, the most useful plugins that were used, and how he now is working alone on building out the individual country sites.

Adams’ slides

All videos of WordPress meetups are free to view and can be found here






What Happens at a CiviCRM Meetup?

people at CiviCRM meetup at techhub
A recent London CiviCRM meetup

CiviCRM is the CRM system designed for non-profits. Not only is it an Enterprise level bit of software, it’s also open-source and free to download and install. Investing in a CRM (constituent relationship management) for an organisation of any size is a major undertaking, as it will likely underpin all the actions that organisation takes in relation to its supporters.

Therefore it’s best to evaluate the shortlist of CRM software in as much detail as possible. One way of doing that with CiviCRM is to go along to a meetup – an informal gathering of people intersested in the software. Usually led by an expert, meetups can take different formats. Here we present a typical line-up at the London CiviCRM group.

“The meetups are designed for those looking to find out more about CiviCRM or considering it for their organisation. There are always a mix of experience levels represented and are a great forum for asking your questions or meeting current users, implementors or developers who can help with your project.”

Running Order

  1.  Introduction to CiviCRM
  2. Case study (often presented by someone non-technical from a organisation using CiviCRM)
  3. Community update
  4. What’s new?

The London user group is especially lucky in that it is attended by several of the core development team of CiviCRM so it’s a fantastic opportunity to talk with them.

We at 2020Media have attended CiviCRM meetups and found them refreshingly non-techie, friendly to all skill levels, with many newcomers at every meeting (so there aren’t of those cliques of old hands who eye suspiciously any new face!). Many of the developers who are there especially like to talk with actual users and implementors (as do we, as a specialist CiviCRM Hosting Service Provider).

Find out about the next CiviCRM event near you at


Joomla User Group April 2013

joomladayA quick roundup of the last London Joomla User group meeting, which took place on Tuesday 16 April 2013.

The meeting was streamed for the first time, as an experiment but the feedback from the tester was positive so hopefully remote participation will become availabe in future months.

Our main discussion centred around future developments in Joomla. Chris Davenport, one of the main Joomla developers, has made a major push to create a Web Services API for Joomla. He argues, Joomla really needs this to allow data to be consumed across a wide array of platforms and devices. As an example a native mobile app would benefit from a true API to Joomla rather than the usual hodge podge of techniques that are practically written from scratch each time. He’s created a Kickstarter project to raise some funds.

In related news, Joomla have recently made announcement saying the Joomla platform is being renamed a framework. This has apparently been done to allow a faster development of the underlying Joomla codebase, of which the Joomla CMS that is what we all use, is just an application of that codebase. The idea Joomla can be used for other things besides websites.

Our discussions went to the usual problem solving open forum and there were lots of good questions and suggested solutions.

Of note was a Firefox plugin called User Agent Switcher – this allows you to appear to sites as (for example) Googlebot – the search engines directory spider. This can be of particular use to track down malware. Some malware that infects Joomla/PHP sites only reveals itself to Googlebot in an attempt to poison the search results.

Security was a topic revisited and Login Failed Log was mentioned – though this is more for information than prevention. Basic security measure like using a complex password and not using the default username of admin or administrator were critical.

Other items mentioned in passing includes:

What is Joomla?

Joomla is one of the top 3 most popular web content management systems on the planet and it currently powers almost 3% of all the world’s websites.  It is an entirely community-driven project and does not employ any paid staff to work on its development.  It is mostly written in PHP and is available for free under the GNU/GPL v2 or later license.  You can find out more here:

2020Media is a UK Joomla host that offers specialist knowledge of Joomla including web hosting, migrations and troubleshooting. To find out more see:

Joomla! User Group London is for anyone of any experience to discuss and promote Joomla! in London. It’s free to attend and meets on the third Tuesday of every month.

CiviCRM Meetup London

2020Media is a hosting provider for CiviCRM and we are supporting the new regular London meetups that are kicking off this month.

London CiviCRM meetup

The event will be held at: Manta Ray Media Ltd., Finsbury Business Centre, Unit 42, 40 Bowling Green Lane, London, EC1R 0NE (map).  Which is between 10 and 15 minutes walking distance from Angel, Barican, Farringdon and King’s Cross stations.   It’s free, and there will be drinks and nibbles and time to network.

Please register at so we have an idea of who is coming along.


We’ll start with a drop in session from 5:30 to 6:30 for people that are new to CiviCRM and have specific questions that they want answered.  We’ll run this on a first  come first serve basis – so please arrive early if you’d like some help.  We’ll then have our CiviCRM meetup from 6.30 to 8.30 with presentations suitable for new and existing users, implementors and developers.  There will definitley be something to interest all levels of experience.

What is CiviCRM?

CiviCRM is web-based, open source, internationalized software that allows you to record and manage information about your members, clients, volunteers, activists, donors, staff, and vendors.civicrm logo

Unlike most other CRM software, CiviCRM was designed from the ground up for non-profits, membership and advocacy organizations. Rather than trying to adapt to a commercial sales-force automation model, CiviCRM gives you familiar terms and concepts. CiviCRM is freely downloadable without licensing fees — making it an affordable and cost effective solution compared to most proprietary vendor offerings.

See you there?

Representatives from 2020Media will be along at the meetup so if you would like to have a face to face chat, please let us know you’ll be attending and we’ll arrange to meet.