This is the first of a series of blog posts about improvements in Joomla 1.6. If you'd like to contribute, please click here to find out more.
Part 1: Improvements for Site Builders
Joomla 1.6 offers much to site integrators and builders that will make them very, very happy. I have spent so long working with Joomla 1.5 and its quirks that I’ve forgotten about many of my pain points. Now that 1.6 is out, I can’t wait for the final release, and it’s all due to a few little things that make my life much easier. I hope you enjoy these new features as well!
Hooray For Save & New!
In Joomla 1.5, we had the options of Save, Apply, and Close for most functions in the Joomla administrator area.
We now have some new options for creating and editing content, and they're located fairly uniformly across the Joomla admin interface. Here's how they look and change in regards to an article.
After clicking the "New" button in the Article Manager to create a new article, the buttons look like this:
After the article is saved for the first time, the buttons change to this:
Note in particular the appearance of the "Save as Copy" button after saving. The name of the button with the red X starts as "cancel" but changes to "close" after the article is saved.
In the Module Manager and for most components, the options are the same, but unfortunately, the icons are different (at least in beta 4):
After clicking the New button in the Module Manager to create a new module, and choosing the Custom HTML module, the buttons look like this:
Although the icons are different, the functionality of these buttons is the same:
- Save. Save is the equivalent of the old Apply option. Your changes are saved, but you stay in the editing screen.
- Save and Close. This is the equivalent of the old Save option. Your changes are saved and you return to the appropriate manager screen (i.e. Article Manager, Module Manager, etc).
- Save and New. Save the item you just created and make a new one. This is a terrific addition for occasions when you have many articles to enter, one after another, because it saves clicks and screen reload time.
- Save as Copy. Save a copy of the exact screen you're looking at. This is great for copying an existing article or module, which might form a base for a second item that's similar in settings.
- Cancel/Close. Depending on the screen, this button may be called Close or Cancel, but the icon is the same. This action closes the item you're working on without saving your changes.
I See Checked Out Items...
In Joomla 1.5, if an item is checked out, no one can see what's happening to it other than the person currently working on it. In Joomla 1.6, you're able to view the information and settings for that item (although you cannot make changes).
This sounds like a very small change, but it solves two interesting issues. First, if you're training a client remotely, or if you're doing some technical support, if the client is looking at a specific article or module, you can't look at it on your computer while the client looks at it on theirs. With this new improvement, your client can make changes to the item while you are looking at the settings for the item.
Second, when combined with the new Save as Copy feature, it's possible for someone to open an item that's checked out and save a copy of it. That means you don't have to track down the person who last checked out the item to get it checked back in, and you don't have to bother the site administrator about running a global check-in of all items.
I Want That Module On Every Page But This One!
There is a new option for assigning modules in Joomla 1.6, which will make your life (and your client's lives!) much easier.
When assigning a module to a page or pages of your website, you have 4 options. The first three are not new, but the last one is quite exciting:
- On all pages: Include this module on all pages of the website.
- No pages: Don't include this module on any page of the website.
- Only on the pages selected: Include the module on the selected pages in the list.
- On all pages except those selected: Now we can include our module on every page of the site, with exceptions. This is great if you want a module on every page of the site except the home page, or except the few pages that have an alternate layout. Previously we'd have to assign the module to selected pages only (i.e. all but the home page). Then when you created a new page, you'd have to make sure to remember to assign the module to that page as well. This new alternative solves that problem.
In an additional UI bonus, you may now assign modules from the menu item screen. That saves more than a few clicks from having to create the menu item, then go to each individual module you need assign to the page.
Oh no, my session expired (again)!
How many times has this happened to you? You're working away in Joomla, and you get a phone call. You come back to the site 16 minutes later, and you're logged out. What's more, Joomla doesn't remember where you were or what you were doing, so all of your changes are lost.
In Joomla 1.6, if your session expires and you're logged out of the site, when you log back in again, Joomla will get you close to where you were. If you were creating a new module, for example, it will at least dump you into the Module Manager. If you were editing an existing article, it will put you back in the article.
Home Sweet Home
In Joomla 1.5, the page to which most people refer to as "home" was called "default". The language has been changed, so now in Joomla 1.6, the home page is the home page.
We also had a feature in Joomla 1.5 called "frontpage items". I got a lot of questions about "frontpage", mostly "How is FrontPage involved with Joomla? I thought Microsoft FrontPage was a separate program!" Frontpage items, however, were articles that were selected to show on the home page. You could only have one "frontpage" per website, wherever it was located (generally the home page).
In Joomla 1.6, FrontPage has left Joomla, and these are now called "featured" items. The big reason is that you can now have more than one "featured" page per website. It seems that you can create a page that will display all featured articles from a given category only. However, I was unable to find where in the UI that you could set the initial category, so perhaps this feature needs a bit more time to mature.
The Media Manager Gets Cool
There have been a number of changes to the Media Manager in Joomla 1.6. First, its menu location has changed, from the Site menu to the Content menu.
Second, the options for the Media Manager have moved out of Global Configuration to their own screen. Check the top right of the Media Manager for the Options button.
In the Options area, you will see the old option to enable the Flash uploader. The Flash uploader was originally included with Joomla 1.5, but due to some issues between Joomla and Flash 10, it was generally disabled in a relatively early version of Joomla 1.5 as a workaround. In Joomla 1.6, the issue has been resolved, and you can once more upload multiple files to the Media Manager with just a few clicks.
Finally, there is no more stories folder in the Media Manager. By default, images are uploaded to the root images folder. You'll also notice all of the old icons have been cleared out. There are no more cherries, bread, or clocks in your website, unless, of course, you put them there.
I Love Trash...
Trash is available, and works like trash, in most areas of Joomla. I'll use Articles as an example.
To trash an article, select the checkbox next to the article, and click the Trash icon.
To view articles in the trash, change the "select state" dropdown menu to Trash or All. This will show a listing of all items in the trash. Clicking on the trash can will only delete items, not show them in the trash.