Graham Armfield presented his favourite WordPress plugins and invited others to share theirs too. They are linked to in the comment to this article. As SlideShare isn’t the quickest way to see them, I’ve picked out a few here:
Replaces the default search with a partial-match search that sorts results by relevance. It also indexes comments and shortcode content.
Our own picks can be seen on this blog, on the right hand side.
Talk 2 – Multi-lingual WP
Rich Holman discussed methods, things to look for and consider, design considerations and plugins that can help you build a multi-lingual site with WordPress.
In a detailed and well explained talk, Rich took us through the pitfalls and shortcuts to building WordPress sites in more than one language. The easy option is just to install seperate copies of WordPress for each language. This approach works well if you can build common elements to your theme, and it’s appropriate for the project. This is best if the content on the different sites does not need to be equivalent. A more common requirement is for the same content to be readable in several languages. This will involve several considerations.
Allow enough space in menus and other areas. Verbose languages like German can really mess up your lovely neat menu!
Be aware you are designing blind. Often the designer won’t know the other languages and good communication is the key.
Right to Left (RTL) languages could mean moving your content around – for example moving the sidebars from right to left.
HTML Language codes. Make sure you declare the language being used in your underlying code. This way plugins like Facebook’s Like button will automatically change it’s text to match.
Rich advised that switching plugins is not a good idea – they don’t really work together or store data in a consistent way.
If you actually need translations to be done for your content, Rich suggested ICanLocalize, which is part of the WPML family. Rates are around $0.07 per word. One final word from the audience was a note to check the font you are using has support for all the characters in your chosen languages. Many fonts from providers such as Google Fonts and Typekit only contain the Latin character set.
Talk 3 – Human Centred Design
Tammie Lister presented a call to action to bring back human focused design.
Tammie related her views on how the web recently has become very structured what with grids, templates and stock photography proliferating. She called on designers and developers to “make it personal”. Inspired by Aarron Walters work on MailChimp, and using examples such as the Twitter “Fail Whale” and Google Logos she showed how even large companies can humanise their image. Another personal dislike of Tammie’s is seeing “Submit” on forms. When in real life does anyone “submit” something? Jargon like this should be excised from the new web.
WordPress allows content to be created freely so stock phrasology and stock photography can be avoided, plus it supports custom error pages, custom headers and backgrounds in many themes, and language files in many themes allow the nuts and bolts to be humanised. Tammie suggests customising the Admin part of WordPress so that users you are designing for only get what they need, and removing the clutter that gets put in by default.
One member of the audience took a counter view and said how he’d tried in the past to get clients to go for a jargon-free website but because the client and their audience were within the same related sphere, some jargon was inevitable.
As always after the talks proper, discussions and informal networking carried on ’til closing time at the nearby pub.
The first London Joomla user group meeting took place at UCL on 17 January. The user group is open to all with an interest in Joomla and no level of technical knowledge is required. This meeting welcomed many new faces and we hope they’ll join the user group again.
Joomla Template Overrides
There was no set agenda this month, but a topic that was explored in detail was template overrides. Joe from Softforge demonstrated the technique which allows you to modify the look and feel of your site in ways beyond what is built into the template options. By using template overrides you avoid modifying core Joomla files and this means you can update Joomla when you need to, without worrying about breaking your website. The technique is simple in essence, though finding the right files or files to move does require some knowledge, and asking the usergroup is a great place to get some help.
Copy Joomla core file to appropriate location within template folder
Modify copied file as required.
Reload Joomla page (clearing cache if needed).
It was suggested that template overrides be covered in more detail in another user group meeting.
News from the Joomla eco-sphere
Virtuemart out. The big daddy of Joomla shopping cart is finally released and feedback was good
K2 out. A component the replaces the ‘article’ with more extendible functions. think of Joomla! articles with additional fields for article images, videos, image galleries and attachments.
Rockettheme dropping Drupal. Popular Joomla template shop will stop developing themes for Drupal after low takeup.
Joomla 2.5, the next long term stable release is due for release on 24 Jan. Joomla 1.5 reaches end of life in April 2012.
The next meeting is on February 21st. If you plan on attending, let us know at 2020Media and we’ll see you there.
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.