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I have been using the Joomla! Cotent Management System (CMS) since 2009 and the initial version 1.5 (launched 2008). Back then the Internet was still maturing (it still is?) and I actually bought a paper book on Joomla! 1.5 to help me. I still have that book! Back then we had table designs in html layout but I dropped that quite quickly following inspiration from Dan Cederholm, Jeffrey Zeldman, Ethan Marcotte, Jeremy Keith and many many others along the way. I devoured technical books, including all of the previously listed authors, like I never had in the previous 26 years, and read whatever I could find on the Internet. I developed (renewed?) a thirst for knowledge and improvement.

Joomla! 1.5 was not everyone's cup of tea. It was complex - the concept of Articles, Categories and Sections seemed unwieldy even back then, - templates seemed like rocket science, and sometimes Joomla! seemed like overkill for the more simple sites which were better off as static html.

Conferences and Joomla! Days helped and were a source of help and inspiration.

I am now evaluating Version 4.0.0-Beta7, there are no books and amazingly for a beta release there is still plenty of web based information, support, advice and examples. It's a different world.

I adopted some things early on and they have stuck with me. Here are a few I would recommend to anyone using Joomla! Start with free versions for evaluation if they exist and progress to the paid for pro versions when you realise you can't live without them. For most the cost gets spread across lots of sites so is well worht the investment. They have all saved my neck and/or made my life much easier over the years. (Other similar products are available on your local Internet... just pop on over to the Joomla Extensions Directory)

I am not being paid in any way to promote these products - I am just sharing my experience of what has worked for me over the years.

Akeeba Backup

Always have backups, you can't do without them, you can't rely on your hosting company (and definitely not in the case of a hosted CMS database). Always have multiple, regular backups secured in different places. You can't be too cautious here. Akeeba has save my bacon more than once including during development on my own localhost server (last night in fact when experimenting with 4.0.0-beta7!). It is a first class product, does what it says on the tin, utterly reliable and I can say with certainty that one day you will thank your lucky stars you used it.  On top of that their website and forum provides first class support and guidance. This is my first go to product.

In over 13 years of web development this prodcut has proved like gold dust. Sometime, somewhere, something will go wrong - either because of something you did, your host did (or did not do) or some malicious third party did. You will see this as money well spent. Stop reading (yes leave my site) and go and buy now! I am not being paid to say this - it is just commone sense.

Oh and by the way - Akeeba Backup is already working great in my use of Jomla! 4.0.0-Beta7. Rock solid reliable.

Akeeba Admin Tools

Through my use of Akeeba Backup I was soon introduced to the Akeeba Admin Tools firewall. Simple to use (like all their products), easy to install, and with a configuration wizard - what's not to like. Plus they do a bundled price with the backup tool.

Admin tools reports to me throughout every day over many sites. It gives me a lot of peace of mind. Beyone the basic configuration I use on all sites I know when I see a series of attacks taking place I can react quickly and up the security levels on the site if needed. 

While there is no such thing as perfect security I am really glad I have added protection through Akeeba. Another product I am happy to pay for.

PWT ACL

There is no getting away from it but the access controls for CMS's generally can be complex and Joomla! is not exception. If you have a complex site with different acces levels for different groups of users and content then the management of the access controls in Joomla can get unweildy and it can be easy to make a mistake.

PWT's ACL product is the answer for me. It simplifies the whole issue of access control in Joomla with a mcuh clearer presentation of your sites access controls. There is also an excellent wizard and diagnostics tool for the Joomla! database (where it relates to access controls).

There is only the PRO paid for version of this product but it is more than worth the small investment (spread over all of your sites).

As I write this blog entry PWT make no claim to be version 4 compatible but it's working for me out of the box. Another product I can't do without and another one on the list I install on a new site before creating any content at all.

JCE

Another product I install on a new site before creating any content at all. In my case I use the free version as it suits my modest needs. This is just a great step up on the inbuilt editros that come with Joomla and makes my life a little easier.

CDN for Joomla by Regular Labs

Generally I am building small to medium websites with local, perhaps wider, appeal. At first glance you might think a CDN to distribute content is not needed but I have been using this product for a few years now to serve content from my host servers via CDN channels. This allows more open connections to the server and thus content can be served quicker. The improvement in performance is measurable.

This is a really straight forward to use product for Joomla! and another one I use on all my sites as soon as they go live.

OSMAP from Joomlashack

I have tried a few sitemap tools over the years and even tried doing my own html and xml pages to achieve the same end. The problem in doing it yourself is that if your site is anything other than really small, then with dynamic content you end up maintaing the html and xml site maps every time something on the site changes. It's really a non starter for a CMS.

So I have been using the free version of OSMAP for several years now - there is also a PRO Version available.

DJ-IMageSlider

I have used many many different image presentations over the years from basic handcrafted html/css to downloaded packages of php/html/css/javascript I have installed myself through to full Joomla! extensions. One of my early favourites with tons of flexibility (but some complexity) was http://highslide.com which requires a site licence for commercial use.

In recent years I still use some basic downloaded code examples but I always fall back to DJ-ImageSlider for good flexible basic or carousel slide presentation. Easy to configure and easy to use - what's not to like.

UptimeRobot

Not a Joomla! tool but none the less a must have for me. UptimeRobot comes in free and PRO versions but does a really good job of notifying me of all my websites statii so I can react quickly if needed. 

A bit about Steve

You may have come here looking for some help with a web site. If you have come here for my sailing, woodworking, cycling or family history pages pop over here.

OK I build web sites - usually for small businesses, community or volunteer groups. I know what it can be like for you - unsure about costs, what you get for your money, will it be worth it? I will be absolutley clear right up front. There will be no hidden charges and you will get my full support. You may not even have to pay anything until your site goes live. Your satisfaction is my focus. I can provide great references from other satisfied customers. There is nothing to lose by contacting me - I won't hassle you afterwards. I like to keep it worry free for you.


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