Media and the Maze of Joomla Extensions
Posted on 21.05.2009
It’s been a few days since my last blog post but it’s because I was hammering away at a new client’s website. il Destino Salon and Spa in Port Moody (the new site will be up shortly) is a fantastic business for you spa aficionados out there. And it was a fun project because it involved deconstructing an old flash site for a fresh rebuild using a cms (Joomla) that the owner could use to update content. The specific needs of this client required me to dig a bit into some of the media related extensions that Joomla has to offer. Here I share my discovery that, despite the large variety of free extensions, few extensions stack up to my standards.
My goal was finding an image gallery plugin that was easy to use, aesthetically pleasing and was not totally flash based (which is bad because search engines don’t like flash pages or elements). I was initially under the impression that this would be an easy task because there are literally hundreds of image, photo, media, whatever extensions on www.joomla.org. To my surprise, it’s not that simple. Or at least it’s not that simple with the expectations that I walked in with.
My next candidate was GK Tools’ Photoslide. This is a top-notch extension and I’m blown away with the quality of the extension given that it is free. It looks really slick and the back-end is super intuitive. I’ve used it in the past and it is great for creating a set of frontpage images that link to articles within the site. So it’s no exactly a pure image gallery which is why I didn’t think it would apply here.
I skimmed many other extensions but my last install test was RocketWerx’s RokSlideshow. I am a big fan of Rockettheme’s Templates so I had to exercise my brand loyalty and give them a shot. I can’t say enough good things about the quality of the templates that Rockettheme builds…but this extension didn’t make the grade for me. It was very limited in it’s feature set and was not as easy to configure as I would have liked. I like being able to throw a quick plugin syntax into my content and that’s it. But this extension requires an extra step of publishing the module to a position and then using the loadposition syntax to get it to appear in the content item. Again, I like easy and quick extensions which is critical for low-cost deployment of small-business websites so an extra step bothers me. I will give them some credit because as a pure slideshow module it does the job. But I need more.