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The JED, reviews, voting, and you
Written by Toni Marie   
Monday, 30 June 2008 00:55

Many Joomla! users don't know what goes into the administration in order to make the voting system in the Joomla! Extensions Directory valid and meaningful.  For example, it might surprise the average directory user to know that every single review is read, its entirety, and evaluated for relevance, honesty, tone and validity.   Not only that, but the votes themselves are regularly scanned for anomalies.  After all of the voting administration, of course there is the handling of the report system that keeps the directory as free of broken links and misinformation as possible, publishing of new extensions and more.

As of this writing there are more than 70,000 users of the JED. Those users have placed more than 100,000 votes and favorites, and among them nearly 27,000 written reviews.  There have been more than 3,900 reports resolved in the JED.  It's easy to see that there are currently 3,300 extensions available in the JED, but there are also many, many more that never see the light of day for one reason or another.  At least five, but sometimes 15 or 20 extensions are submitted each day.  Each of those extensions is tested to see if it will download, and then install properly.  We don't actually test to see if the items "work" per se, but we do want to make sure they're valid extensions.  With all we go through, I'm still amazed every time at the attempts to skirt the rules of the voting and review system.






Help Screens Project
Written by Marieke van der Tuin   
Friday, 27 June 2008 18:07

At the first DocCamp the idea came up that it would be nice to have all Help Screens for 1.5 created, accessible by the Help buttons at the Back-end of your Joomla! site. Four months later, I'm happy to announce that all Help Screens are done, and everyone is able to access all Help Screens at there Joomla! Back-end. The story of an enormous project, with lots of teamwork, discussing, learning and last but not least.. fun!

Google Highly Open Participation contest

It all started with GHOP. During the contest we chatted a lot with each other at the IRC channel. We knew that we did not want to just 'stop' after GHOP. These chats should be continued! Yes, they did, at the Skype Group Chat.

Some GHOPers also joined the Doc Camp, starting at the 19th of January. I did as well (of course), having fun while creating documentation. I choosed to do both Developer Documentation and User Documentation. There my interest began to grow for creating User Documentation, especially the Help Screens.

I noticed a few weeks later, after GHOP was finished, that there had not be any progress anymore on the Help Screens page. Asked Chris Davenport whether I was allowed to go on working them, and of course I could continue.

Help Screens Project

Because there were lots of them to be created, I started to contact some GHOPers, whether they would like to help me. A new project was born! We thought it would be useful to organise a (digital) meeting, to discuss about who will do what, and what would be a useful layout of a Help Screen. Thinking of the idea was much easier than getting it planned. Timezones are really challenging!

After the meeting, we started to work on the Help Screens. There were actually three 'parts' that needed to be completed per Help Screen: Creating (at the Docs), reviewing and moving them to, so they will be accessible by Joomla!'s Back-end.

It went quite well, but very slow! There are more than 60 Help Screens, and we were working on them with (only) the three of us. Luckily, Mark joined us when we were about halfway. He just came in, without an 'announcement', and we were all suprised. Still remember the PM 'Who is Mark Dexter?' from Max, our reviewer.

Making progress..

With the help of Mark (still wondering how come Mark has that much time), things went faster and faster. A few changes at the SVN had been made to split up some Help Screens, combine them, and to create a few that were missing.

And now.. everything is done! At the end, after four months. How great!


I would like to thank everyone who joined the Help Screens Project!

  • Chad Windnagle (drmmr763) for his great ideas and creating some Help Screens
  • Max Shinn (trombonechamp) for reviewing nearly all Help Screens
  • Mark Dexter (dextercowley) for creating Help Screens and moving them to
  • Chris Davenport (Documentation Working Group Coordinator) for his assistence where needed and for creating a White Paper about the Help Screens
  • Amy Stephen (AmyStephen) for ideas, communication and just being there
  • CirTap for his enormous MediaWiki knowledge
  • Ian MacLennan (ianmac) for fixing keyreferences at the SVN

Without you this project could not have been completed, thanks a lot!


Marieke van der Tuin
Project leader 1.5 Help Screens Project






Testing User Interface Code
Written by Alan Langford   
Tuesday, 24 June 2008 23:21

Recently Ross Crawford asked a question on the developer list about testing User Interface code. Little did I know that I'd be putting my response to him into action the very next day.

Today I was adding a module to one of my sites, and I decided that the module list should be alphabetical by column, rather than by row as it is now. A simple change, I thought, why not take a few minutes to implement it.

Naturally my first run at this had bugs. In this case, it was an infinite loop. An infinite loop with infinite output that gave my Firebug-enabled Firefox a really hard time. A restart the browser with 20+ open tabs hard time. Not fun.

There is a simple fix for this, I thought... unit tests! After all I'm going to wind up writing tests for it before I propose it as a change, because being able to prove that a change works is (or should be) one of the best ways to get a change approved.

A couple of glitches with mocking JText and trying to get the Windows CLI version of PHP to not dump captured output to the console, and I was ready to write some tests. A short time later and the time for a revise/test cycle was down to a minute or so, eliminating the painful need to kill and restart Firefox. Shortly thereafter the bug was fixed and everyting was looking good.

Then I decided to validate the HTML with Tidy. It failed pretty badly. It seems a misplaced /> was causing a span element to become unbalanced and an input element to be malformed. I fixed this up, eliminated all of the other warnings that I could, and created a patch.

That's the power of testing. I found previously existing but undetected bugs, significantly reduced my cycle testing times, and now the project has a tool that gives every other developer the same advantage with no additional investment in time.

See the documentation wiki for a discussion of the specifics involved in this type of test.






Making the Most of Your Posts
Written by Ken Crowder   
Monday, 23 June 2008 02:55

Did you know that Joomla! has one of the best forums of any Open Source project? I know, I am biased, but it is true. Occasionally, someone complains that the "support" stinks and that no one is answering their question. There are many men and women who devote many hours of their time to helping other Joomla! members. Some are moderators and others are community members who just want to give something back.

Let's take a look at some things that should help you get a better response rate.

Eric Steven Raymond has a great article called "How To Ask Questions The Smart Way". in which he outlines ways of asking question in a way that will help others help you. I will be pulling the general ideas of his article, however you should feel free to read the whole article is you wish.


Before You Post

  • Search the Forum – This is often times the fastest way to find the answer you need. 95% of the questions have been asked and answered before.
  • Stickies – Read the Stickies. They are there for a reason.
  • Documents SiteJoomla! Official Documentation Wiki
  • Dig Around – It is far more rewarding to spend a little time looking in the Administrator for a feature than asking someone else. I find that doing this opens your eyes up to other features that you were unaware of as well.


When You Post

  • Post in the Appropriate Forum - Which Forum Should You Post In?
  • Do Not Cross-Post – By Cross Posting (posting the same question twice), you only hurt yourself. Typically, a moderator, who may have had time to answer your question, is not spending that time deleting your posts in another forum. We moderators waste a lot of time cleaning up cross-posts which takes away from time that we could be supporting you and your fellow community members.
  • Ask on the Forum – DO NOT PM PEOPLE FOR SUPPORT UNLESS ASKED TO DO SO! … enough said.
  • First Impressions Count – Do not use a subject of "HELP!" or "URGENT HELP NEEDED". Use a good descriptive subject that explains what type of question is inside.
  • The Language Barrier – Joomla! is a worldwide project. People speak many languages and not everyone's first language is English. If English is not your first language and someone is trying to read your post that does not make sense, you are likely not going to get a response from them. Try rewording a sentence to help reinforce what you were trying to say.
  • Support your question details – Statements like, "It does not work" help no one. Try to give steps to replicate the issue you are having. Or if have tried a solution from another thread and it did not work, please note that. Giving the reader a clear understanding of your issue is key to getting a response. The point is this, if you kind of, sort of ask your question, you can kind of, sort of expect to get an answer.


After You Post

  • Thank you! – Do not forget to thank the community member(s) that help you come to a solution. We are all volunteers, a little pat on the back is always good.


Forum Rules

  • Yes, we have Rules! Please read them. By following the rules, the moderators are able to spend more time supporting and not cleaning up.


Other Thoughts

  • When I first started using Mambo, then Joomla!, I came up with a pretty good system that served me well. My theory was that for every question I asked, I was going to answer two questions. I did just that. In the beginning, I was asking and answering a lot of questions, but it paid off. I learned A LOT by interacting in this way. If every community member did this, we would not have people claiming that we have bad support.
  • For your viewing pleasure: Posting and You







New Unit Testing Status Page Available
Written by Alan Langford   
Saturday, 21 June 2008 21:50

One of the hold ups for getting some momentum in the unit test process has been not quite knowing where to start. Part of the problem is that there has never been a easy place to see what needs to be done.

This has now been addressed with the Unit Testing Status page on the documentation wiki.

Manual attempts to get this page started haven't been all to successful, to today I wrote a program that creates it automatically. It identifies all the non-legacy classes in the "Joomla!" trunk, matches them against classes in the unit test tree, and produces a report.

There are three tables in the report. The first lists all the classes in alphabetical order, along with the number of test files for that class and the source file for the class. The second lists the same information organized by directory. The last table lists tests that aren't class-based, and tests for classes that don't exist.

The next job is to get rid of the sea of red (classes with no tests) on this report. There's a lot to do, but at least now it's easier to pick a place to start.


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