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

Joomla Forums12
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 Joomla13
If you’ve never used Joomla before, this is a good starting point.

Getting started14

Joomla 1.5 Installation Manual15
If you need help getting Joomla installed, this provides you with instructions.

Absolute Beginner’s Guide to Joomla16
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 Template17
Shows you how to edit your template from the admin panel.

Edit template18

How to Determine Which Page You Are on from within a Joomla 1.5 Template19
When developing templates, you may want to style pages differently. This tutorial will help.

Which page?20

Editing the CSS File21
A visual guide to making basic changes to Joomla’s CSS file.

Editing CSS files22

Understanding Output Overrides in Joomla 1.5
An explanation for designers and developers about the output generated by Joomla.

Understanding output

Paging in Joomla23
For Joomla developers who need help creating pagination.

Page Titles in Joomla 1.5
A look at working with page titles and modifying them to suit your needs.

Styling Front Page a Different Way24
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 Pages
How to set up your own custom 404 error page on Joomla.

3.2 Working with Databases: Link

Export Joomla Database
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 1.525
Learn how you can make changes to your admin interface to suit your needs.

Change admin theme26

How to Change Your Default Images Directory in Joomla 1.527
It’s possible to change your image directory in a Joomla website, and this article shows you how.

Change img directory28

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

WordPress to Joomla

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

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

Moving Joomla Websites
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 1.5
A very quick tip for getting an RSS feed from any page.

3.5 Working with Modules, Plug-Ins and Components Link

Module Manager29
A simple guide to Joomla’s module manager.

Module manager30

How to Create a Joomla Plug-In
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 plugin

Include Any Module Within Content in Joomla 1.5
A tutorial on integrating AdSense, PayPal and AdBrite within Joomla content.

Introduction to Joomla Component Development31
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 Cache32
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 1.533
This article shows you how to use a simple plug-in to insert YouTube videos easily.

Joomla Search Engine Optimization34
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 templates.


Best of Joomla35
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 Joomla36

Provides more than 1,500 free Joomla templates.


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

Design for Joomla

Funky Visions
Offers a number of free templates for downloading.

Funky Visions

IbolDesign offers some free templates for downloading.


Rocket Theme39
Rocket Theme is another premium template club; it also offers four free templates.

Rocket Theme40

Joomla Shack
A marketplace for free and premium templates.

Joomla Shack

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

Joomla Jet

Joomla Art41
Another premium template club; it also provides some tutorials and additional resources.

Joomla Art42

Blank Joomla 1.5 Template43
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 Directory46
The official directory of extensions.

Joomla Ext Directory47

Joomla Add-Ons
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 Bamboo50
Joomla Bamboo offers premium extensions and templates, but it also has some free resources.

Joomla Bamboo51

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 Based
A large showcase of Joomla-powered websites.

Joomla Based

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

Joomla Showcase

Best of Joomla56
An inspirational gallery that also provides free templates.

Best of Joomla57

Joomla Case58
Another design gallery just for Joomla.

Joomla Case59

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

Joomla Showcase60
The Joomla forums include an area for showing off custom Joomla templates and getting inspiration from the work of others.

Joomla Zone
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. WordPress61
A discussion thread on the SitePoint forums.

Which CMS? Joomla vs. Drupal vs. WordPress62
This video discusses each of these three open-source options.

WordPress vs. Joomla: A Handy Guide63
This post on YOUmoz looks at the topics of usability, versatility and SEO.

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

Joomla and Drupal – Which One Is Right for You?
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.

JoomlaCode64 is a resource for developers to build and manage open-source software projects centered on Joomla.


Freelance job marketplace for Joomla developers.


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

Joomla Developer Resources


Footnotes Link

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SmashingConf Barcelona 2016

Hold on, Tiger! Thank you for reading the article. Did you know that we also publish printed books and run friendly conferences – crafted for pros like you? Like SmashingConf Barcelona, on October 25–26, with smart design patterns and front-end techniques.

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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

    Ricardo Sousa

    January 5, 2009 1:45 pm

    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….


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