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Joomla Developer’s Toolbox


Joomla is a popular free and open-source content management system (CMS) that can be used to power all kinds of websites. After we published developer’s toolboxes for a variety of other CMS’, many readers requested a collection of resources for Joomla users and developers, so here it is. Joomla grew out of the Mambo1 CMS and has since built a large and loyal group of users, much like the other popular open-source options. What this means for users and developers is that there is a wealth of information and resources available, and in this post we’ll take a look at many of the best.

Other developer’s toolboxes from Smashing Magazine:

1. Official Resources Link

Although the Joomla community of users provides plenty of valuable resources, there are also some official resources from Joomla that are worth noting:

Joomla Home7
The official home of Joomla, where you can get information about the system and download the files.


A wealth of information that should be bookmarked by any Joomla user or developer.


Joomla Community Magazine11
A great resource for Joomla users and developers to stay up-to-date.

Team Blogs12
Each working group within the Joomla community maintains its own blog to communicate with the community.

Joomla Forums13
If you’re looking for support or just a place to pose general questions to the community, this is the resource.

2. Getting Started Link

If you’ve decided that you want to give Joomla a try, take a look at these three resources to help you get started the right way:

Getting Started with Joomla14
If you’ve never used Joomla before, this is a good starting point.

Getting started15

Joomla 1.5 Installation Manual16
If you need help getting Joomla installed, this provides you with instructions.

Absolute Beginner’s Guide to Joomla17
A great resource for those who are just getting started; includes information on installing, admin options, the templating system and more.

3. Tutorials Link

If you’re looking to learn more about working with Joomla-powered websites, developing your own templates, working with plug-ins and more, here is a collection of categorized tutorials:

3.1 Working with Templates Link

Joomla Template Tutorial
Learn how to create a Joomla template in the developer network.

Template tutorial

Edit Template18
Shows you how to edit your template from the admin panel.

Edit template19

How to Determine Which Page You Are on from within a Joomla 1.5 Template20
When developing templates, you may want to style pages differently. This tutorial will help.

Which page?21

Editing the CSS File22
A visual guide to making basic changes to Joomla’s CSS file.

Editing CSS files23

Understanding Output Overrides in Joomla 1.524
An explanation for designers and developers about the output generated by Joomla.

Understanding output25

Paging in Joomla26
For Joomla developers who need help creating pagination.

Page Titles in Joomla 1.527
A look at working with page titles and modifying them to suit your needs.

Styling Front Page a Different Way28
A quick tutorial on applying different styles to the front page of a Joomla website as compared to other pages on the website.

Custom 404 Error Pages29
How to set up your own custom 404 error page on Joomla.

3.2 Working with Databases: Link

Export Joomla Database30
The basic steps for exporting your database with phpMyAdmin.

Joomla Coding Practices: Tables and Primary Keys
Some helpful information about naming tables.

3.3 Website Administration Link

How to Change the Administrator Template in Joomla 1.531
Learn how you can make changes to your admin interface to suit your needs.

Change admin theme32

How to Change Your Default Images Directory in Joomla 1.533
It’s possible to change your image directory in a Joomla website, and this article shows you how.

Change img directory34

Import Your WordPress Blog into Joomla35
If you’re interested in moving from WordPress to Joomla, this article shows you the steps to take.

WordPress to Joomla36

Keeping Your Joomla Installation Safe Against Hacks and Exploits37
Some quick advice for securing your website.

Securing Your Administrator Directory Using .htaccess Files38
A quick tutorial on securing your Joomla website against hackers using .htaccess.

Moving Joomla Websites39
Changing Web hosts or domain names can be very frustrating. This article shows you the process for a Joomla website.

3.4 Working with Feeds Link

Leveraging Feeds in Joomla 1.5
A helpful guide to working with feeds in Joomla.

How to Have RSS on Any Page of Joomla 1.540
A very quick tip for getting an RSS feed from any page.

3.5 Working with Modules, Plug-Ins and Components Link

Module Manager41
A simple guide to Joomla’s module manager.

Module manager42

How to Create a Joomla Plug-In43
Are you looking to enhance the core functionality of Joomla for yourself or others? Here is a look at the basics.

How to create a plugin44

Include Any Module Within Content in Joomla 1.545
A tutorial on integrating AdSense, PayPal and AdBrite within Joomla content.

Introduction to Joomla Component Development46
A basic look at the subject of component development.

3.6 Other Tutorials Link

The Super Secret Site Map Trick
Get a site map without installing any extensions.

Joomla Performance Tuning: Module Cache47
Learn how to improve your website’s performance with this tutorial on module caching.

How to Embed a YouTube Video in an Article in Joomla 1.548
This article shows you how to use a simple plug-in to insert YouTube videos easily.

Joomla Search Engine Optimization49
A five-step approach to optimizing a Joomla-powered website.

4. Joomla Templates Link

The Joomla community has already created thousands of templates. There are several different websites that offer premium theme membership clubs, and there are also plenty of free templates available. Here we’ll look at some of the best places to get free and premium templates.

JoomlaJunkie offers club memberships that give users, designers and developers access to premium templates, and it also offers several free templates51.


Best of Joomla53
Developers can submit free templates here to be downloaded by others. Best of Joomla also offers some additional resources aside from free templates.

Best of Joomla54

Provides more than 1,500 free Joomla templates.


Design for Joomla57
A large collection of free templates for downloading.

Design for Joomla58

Funky Visions59
Offers a number of free templates for downloading.

Funky Visions60

IbolDesign offers some free templates for downloading.


Rocket Theme63
Rocket Theme is another premium template club; it also offers four free templates.

Rocket Theme64

Joomla Shack65
A marketplace for free and premium templates.

Joomla Shack66

Joomla Jet67
A premium theme marketplace that offers three different levels of membership.

Joomla Jet68

Joomla Art69
Another premium template club; it also provides some tutorials and additional resources.

Joomla Art70

Blank Joomla 1.5 Template71
A free starting point for your template development.

A collection of free user-submitted templates, among other resources.

This hosting company provides a number of free templates for Joomla users.

A home for free and premium templates for Joomla, WordPress and Drupal.

5. Extensions, Plug-Ins, Add-Ons Link

Like any other open-source CMS, Joomla comes with certain features and functionality out of the box, but additional features are available through extensions, plug-ins and add-ons. Like the templates, some are free and some are premium. In this section, we’ll include links to the best places to find the right extensions for your projects.

Joomla Extensions Directory75
The official directory of extensions.

Joomla Ext Directory76

Joomla Add-Ons77
An excellent collection of free components, modules and plug-ins, as well as some for sale.


JoomlaWorks sells some premium plug-ins, but it also offers a number of useful plug-ins for free downloading.


Joomla Bamboo81
Joomla Bamboo offers premium extensions and templates, but it also has some free resources.

Joomla Bamboo82

VirtueMart is a free open-source e-commerce solution for Joomla and Mambo websites.


Directory of user-submitted Joomla modules.

A third-party extension directory is available at iJoomla.

A collection of Joomla add-ons, some free and some premium.

A blog that includes a number of free extensions.

6. Inspiration Link

If you would like to see what other designers and developers have been able to accomplish with Joomla, you’re in luck. There are several websites dedicated to Joomla inspiration, and a few others that include Joomla along with inspiration from other CMS’.

Joomla Based89
A large showcase of Joomla-powered websites.

Joomla Based90

Joomla Showcase91
A Web design gallery specifically for Joomla-powered websites.

Joomla Showcase92

Best of Joomla93
An inspirational gallery that also provides free templates.

Best of Joomla94

Joomla Case95
Another design gallery just for Joomla.

Joomla Case96

CMS Showcase97
There are currently almost 40 Joomla-powered websites featured on CMS Showcase.

Joomla Showcase98
The Joomla forums include an area for showing off custom Joomla templates and getting inspiration from the work of others.

Joomla Zone99
Joomla Zone includes a Joomla Powered section, where website owners and designers can submit their Joomla-powered websites to be displayed

7. Compared to Other CMS’ Link

If you haven’t used Joomla before, you’re probably wondering how it stacks up against other CMS options. The following resources, featuring the opinions of others on Joomla and other open-source CMS’, should help. Keep in mind that each has its own strengths and weaknesses, and no CMS is right for every project.

Joomla vs. WordPress100
A discussion thread on the SitePoint forums.

Which CMS? Joomla vs. Drupal vs. WordPress101
This video discusses each of these three open-source options.

WordPress vs. Joomla: A Handy Guide102
This post on YOUmoz looks at the topics of usability, versatility and SEO.

Why Can’t We Be Friends? Joomla vs. Drupal103
A balanced article that looks at the pros and cons of each.

Joomla and Drupal – Which One Is Right for You?104
This article is about two years old, but it may still be helpful if you’re trying to compare.

8. Developer Resources Link

These resources don’t fit very well in the other categories in this post, but they’re all worth pointing out, and they all focus on meeting various needs of Joomla developers.

JoomlaCode105 is a resource for developers to build and manage open-source software projects centered on Joomla.


Freelance job marketplace for Joomla developers.


Joomla Developer Resources109
A resource for developers who are developing, or want to develop, custom components and add-ons for Joomla.

Joomla Developer Resources110


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Steven Snell is a Web designer and blogger. In addition to maintaining his own blog and writing for a number of other top design blogs, he also manages an online shop that offers premium graphic design resources.

  1. 1

    joomla is an evil demon!

    nice article though.

  2. 2

    Big thanks Smashingmagazine!

  3. 3

    Finally – A Joomla! article! Thanks for that one.

    I also wrote a Joomla! article that can be pretty useful:
    7 tips to optimize Joomla! security

  4. 4

    Hey, Smashing Magazine, thanks! Is there any way you can update the RocketTheme screen shot with our newly released site design? Thanks.

  5. 5

    Thank u SM!

  6. 6

    Good article. Congrats!

  7. 7

    Joomla… don’t get me started on this one… no seriously..

  8. 8

    how many people that use this do you actually know?

  9. 9

    Finally Joomla gets some attention. Good collection except the template section doesn’t showcase anything particularly eye-catching. We want people to like Joomla, not think it’s the ugly step-child of open source content management systems.

  10. 10

    Joomla forever!

  11. 11

    Don’t forget
    A great place for Joomla extensions.
    Numerous free extensions
    Including Shadowbox module available :)

  12. 12

    Great article.
    Maybe useful: professional Joomla Support can be found here:

  13. 13

    There are many links here to Unfortunately the domain changed recently to

  14. 14

    Thanks for this. I <3 Joomla.

  15. 15

    “how many people that use this do you actually know?”

    One or two … Joomla is getting on for 1% of all websites. Not far behind WordPress at close to 2%.

  16. 16

    Just curious about those who are so negative about Joomla. I’m not saying there aren’t reasons to be, but as someone who professionally designs websites and is familiar with multiple CMSs, I feel a lot of the negative feedback is usually due to not having spent enough time with it.

    Graphic designers should seriously consider Joomla over both WordPress and Drupal. Joomla has a much better templating system than WordPress once you get to know it. To do a site that’s more than a blog is possible in WP, but slightly masochistic once you’ve tried Joomla. As for Drupal, it’s a great system for a serious PHP developer…but the back end is a lot less friendly for your clients than either Joomla or WordPress. I’d say Drupal for large corporate sites, WP for blogs and Joomla for just about everything else.

  17. 17

    Great!… Joomla is the best cms, and for designers is very easy to customize. Very versatile.

  18. 18

    The main problem with Joomla is Categories, you only have two levels and that’s it, no plugins, not a thing can change that unless you try to mess up with the core system. If you just want your site to look pretty, it’s the tool for you… or a very simple website that can look like a CMS.

  19. 19

    Yes. I was waiting for this one – god collection / .review of Joomla resources. Thanks.

  20. 20

    I love Joomla! & I love SmashingMagazine….

    And most of all, I love OpenSource….

    Keep Smashin’ guys….

  21. 21

    Pablo, you can get around this by creating your structure with menu items. I’ve built sites with several levels deep this way. You can use a page alias to add a page to more than one category this way as well. There are some drawbacks to this. A dynamic view that lists all the pages from more than 2 levels deep, or one that lists pages in more than one category is not possible. So I agree this could be better, but I still don’t think it’s a big deal for most sites.

    Also, some components have their own category system. A shopping site using Virtuemart for example has its own category system which gives you multiple categories. There are blog components that give you multiple categories as well.

    Don’t use Joomla if you’re a beginner needing a simple blog. Use WordPress, Blogger, etc. But if you need more, or you’re a designer thinking about a CMS, Joomla is a good choice.

  22. 22

    I use Joomla for multiple client sites. Great ease of use and customization, and LOTS of plugins to make it do pretty much anything I’ve been asked for.

  23. 23

    I have been working with Joomla for 3 months and its really fun !

  24. 24

    I’m developer of The Joomla Template Kit which is a Dreamweaver extension to make Joomla templates in Dreamweaver this a paid app. There are also free resources on my site like a Joomla Template CSS reference for Joomla templates and menus etc.
    See nice article guys.
    Brian Diaz

  25. 25

    Let’s wait till the release of Joomla version 1.6.

  26. 26

    I worked with mambo and joomla since very long and In my view Joomla is the best known CMS around on web and the beauty is that it’s free for everyone.

    I like to thank Steven for his hard work in compiling such a good list but I’m still wondring that how he missed so many other good Joomla resource sites operated by core Mambo and joomla team members like YooTheme, Gavik etc..

    Anyway… Still got good resource list here…Much appreciated effort !!

    Thank you Again,

    DKumar M.

  27. 27

    I must say I’ve used Mambo/Joomla!, Drupal, and WordPress and there are definitely different uses for each. Mambo/Joomla!, a couple years ago, was the furthest along in terms of social networking with its Community Builder module. It was definitely plug ‘n’ play. However, Joomla! has always had a knack for gaping security holes (especially the Community Builder module). Joomla! doesn’t suck, it’s just not as good as the others. That said, great list of resources though, Stephen, you’ve done your homework on this one.

  28. 28

    Joomla is, and unfortunately remains, a staggering liability as far as security is concerned. I won’t get into specifics just like the police won’t tell you just how Criminal X picks locks or skims credit cards, but suffice to say that the information is out there and people know it.

    Strictly from a development point of view, I tried using Joomla before I knew all this and put a good 6 months into it. Security liabilities aside, it’s decent. One of the problems though is that many of us were lured into trying Joomla based on the ZOMG OPEN SOURCE MATTERS! dogma. And yes, you can get everything you need right out of the box to make a basic website with Joomla, but there’s just an obscene amount of sketchy pay-to-play sites with seemingly essential add-ons, templates, etc. They’re at liberty to make their money the same as everyone else is, but it seemed that damn near everything in the “community” that didn’t look like a cookie-cutter template was priced WAY beyond what something similar on another CMS would cost.

    Finally, the documentation is incredibly weak. That wonderful wiki has tons of stub pages which will help you find out exactly nothing. I had more luck googling around message boards for answers to questions about Joomla’s functionality that turned out to be, sadly, negative.

    Orson Welles once said he got into movies because he thought it was 90% art and 10% hustle, only to find out later it was 10% art and 90% hustle. That’s about the truth of Joomla, as I found it: 10% functionality and 90% evangelizing about that wonderful community that just ain’t there (is, in fact, microscopic compared to wordpress). Your mileage may vary.

  29. 29

    So, what is the best open source cms(especially “usable cms”)?
    + Joomla. No.
    + Drupal. No.
    + WordPress. Just for blog…
    + You get what you pay for.

  30. 30

    @hanoi I couldn’t disagree with you more. Drupal 6 and WordPress are great platforms and are worth paying for.

  31. 31

    Finally!!! Many thanks.

  32. 32

    Hey thanks guys, trying to polish my Joomla skills, this is great!

  33. 33

    Thanks for this…now it’s time for Smashing to release one nice Joomla template for us…like you guys did for WP themes..hurry up…

  34. 34

    i am loving it.. since mambo.. 90% of my sites are build with joomla.. thx for the mashup!

  35. 35

    Being a big fan of WP and I having also worked with Drupal. I love Joomla! 1.5 because of it’s code library that makes building large dedicated extensions and management tools many times easier than I have ever experienced using anything else.

    Some of us think that doesn’t handle hierarchical content but the truth is that there are endless levels of hierarchy if you take a fresh look at how the site is structured using menu items and you may even find it’s easier to manage and understand. I think, Joomla! really is the closest solution I know to your very own solution with plenty of room for growth.

    I am curious how creditable these statements are about security. With hundreds of ears to the rails out there the folks at Joomla! are pretty sensitive to these sort of issues since Joomla! 1.0 as I am sure we have all considered that 1.5 is a whole new beast. If it’s something new that’s no real secret than you’ve got me stumped and I think you should be contacting Joomla! 1.5 in support of the open source initiative.

    Anyway, thanks to plugin’s like JoomlaPack and LazyBackup I know my websites are safe and securely backed up to a separate server and the database is emailed to me every night. But no “thing” lasts forever right? Right now, I am just so grateful that Joomla! is still trucking along with the changes and I am looking for to the user permission upgrades in 1.6.

    Thanks Steven for the article.

  36. 36

    Fact of the matter is that everything has security holes but does any one platform stand out? The answer is no. Even if Joomla’s security is weak, there are plenty of extensions available that enhance the security. There’s one as simple as changing the URL to your backend. Are these extensions necessary? No but they definitely help.

    Joomla is still the farthest along in social networking too. Right now it has 2 powerful extensions (JomSocial and Joomunity), 1 aging extension (Community Builder) and a few others in development. JomSocial and Joomunity both rival Facebook. Now that’s something to check out!

  37. 37

    Well, there is ICETHEME also

  38. 38

    I have used joomla before… and I have also used, drupal and word press.. Well accordingly all CMS have different uses. But I love word press, for its ease and simplicity. Joomla is a lot more a headache than joy. also the installation files are too much and occupy a lot of disk space on the server… A newbie to joomla, might spend weeks just to learn the backed system…. WordPress rocks any day.

  39. 39

    Nice post. Here’s a suggestion. In section “3.4 Working with Feeds”, you haven’t really pinpointed how you can produce good feeds. My suggestion would be to use the BCA RSS Syndicator which allows complete customisation of RSS feeds in Joomla 1.5: RSS feeds in Joomla

  40. 40

    Great. Joomla! is my favorite CMS.
    -A smashing template would be nice.
    -Does someone have experience with an iphone tool to post to Joomla! (like WP)?

  41. 41

    Worth Reading !! Joomla rocks… I have three of my heavy servers running on Joomla.
    Thanks for the great New Year gift.

  42. 42

    I see Joomla changed it’s interface on the backend side. It looks better then before.
    My provider was moaning about a high CPU because of the JoomlaCMS several times so I killed it. I use WordPress for a while now and I think it’s a winner!

  43. 43

    Joomla! would be awsome. But they still work with tables.
    We have 2009 dudes…

  44. 44

    I haven’t used Joomla in more than a year. Found it difficult to customize the templates. Maybe worth another shot with this compilation of documentation. Thanks!

  45. 45

    Have used a few cms’s inc. wp and drupal but I do love joomla, large community and so many plugins and mods… bout time smashing had some joomla love!

  46. 46

    what about cmsms? it rocks

  47. 47

    There are many resources listed here that are only related to Joomla 1.0 and not to Joomla 1.5, far better and in many things very different from the old version.

    Fortunately you can recognize the oldest articles looking at the design of the web page it’s written on, but it’s 2009, Joomla 1.0 is coming to its end of life and you link those articles written in 2006..

  48. 48

    Great!… Joomla is a very good cms, and is very easy to customize.
    I use Joomla! since 2006.
    Thanx for this toolbox

  49. 49

    love for Joomla! Forever! :D

  50. 50

    I had to work with Joomla with many clients and I must say this is

    – the least transparent system
    – the least stable system
    – the most css-unfriendly system
    – the most UTF-8-unfriendly system (ok, 1.5 claims to support UTF-8)
    – the less upward- or downward-compatible system
    – …

    I ever had to work with.
    Not really one of my clients mastered the system.

    But compare it with CMSMadeSimple

    that is not as big as drupal but working great for 90% of my clients and friends and everybody understands it


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