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Learning Joomla! 1.5 Extension Development Paperback – 15 Dec 2008


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About the Author

Joseph L. LeBlanc started with computers at a very young age. His independent education gave him the flexibility to experiment and learn computer science. Joseph holds a bachelor's degree in Management Information Systems from Oral Roberts University. Joseph is a freelance Joomla! extension developer. He released a component tutorial in May 2004, which was later translated into French, Polish, and Russian. Work samples and open-source extensions are available at www.jlleblanc.com. In addition to freelancing, he is an active member of the Washington, DC tech community and Joomla! Bug Squad.

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Amazon.com: 14 reviews
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
Excellent tutorial 20 Feb. 2009
By Sueter - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Excellent beginning book on writing Joomla extensions. He concentrates on devloping a component extension, but also has you create modules and plugins.

So that you know how to judge my reaction to this book, here's my background: I have good HTML/CSS skills, have installed a few Joomla site, and written a couple of templates. I've been a programmer for many years but on languages quite different from php. My php skills are still pretty new. I understood the concept of object oriented programming but hadn't much experience with it. I knew what MVC stood for, but that was about it.

It would have been nice to know more OOP, but I managed.

The MVC was very sensible and a much cleaner way to deal with php. That was fine to pick up.

After finishing the book, I was able to create my own component extension.

You are going to want to know some HTML, some php and joomla before you try this. If you don't know oop, I'd recommend taking a quick tutorial on it first. Killerphp.com has a quick practical one.

The only complaint I have is that I wish he had created an appendix or footnotes with the Joomla commands and their parameters. While he explains what's needed for the extension example, it's sometimes hard to know what all the parameters are used for which makes it difficult to go beyond something very similar to his example without finding another resource. You can check out the joomla dev site for details or look at the files themselves, but that's a little TOO detailed!
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Great Stepping Off Point For Joomla Extension Development 14 Feb. 2009
By Scott L. Wolpow - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Having a number of Joomla Projects that require me to get to the next level of custom design I turned to a number of books. This book is well written, even at a laypersons level. [Though you must have some understanding of basic code, HTML etc] If you are a total "newbie" you can still follow it, even if you do not understand all that it discusses. After each set of code is an explanation of why the code was used and what it does. This can help you learn the concepts for not only Joomla, but also any PHP/MySQL/JavaScript/HTML based scripting.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Better than nothing - but not great 5 Jan. 2010
By Kevin T. Beard - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Although I've only been using the book for a few days, and have learned a lot from it, I'm frustrated by mistakes in the code and lack of full documentation for the various methods that are used.

Background: I have a decent amount of experience with HTML/CSS and had set up a few Joomla sites before buying this book. I've used PHP before also, but for relatively simple things. I understand the basic precepts of OOP, but I am not a professional developer, so I thought (judging from the "who this book is for") this book would be a good way to start working on my own extensions. In some ways it is.

It does explain the basic things you need to do to build a new component, and uses a lot of Joomla functions that I'm sure will be useful, but it does not do a very good job of explaining how these functions/methods really work, what parameters they accept, etc.

The most frustrating part for me is that it seems there are some errors in the sample code. At first I thought this might be due to my own error, so I copied in the code samples available for download... there were still a few issues... so I installed the finished extension on a new install of Joomla, and it basically works - but still with a few issues.

In the end I'm sure the book will be useful, it's better than nothing, and I'm not aware of anything better - but something better could definitely be done.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Very good start to Joomla 9 April 2009
By Willem Petrus Botha - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
This book is a very good start to Joomla development, and explains not only what one can do, but takes you on a development route in showing you why things are done the way they are. I strongly reccomend coding the code by hand, and not using the downloadable source... It lacks some explenations in parts to complex questions, but I am sure these get coverd in the other titles of the Packt books.... after all, it is a practical tutorial and not a reffrence.

It's a Great start to Joomla 1.5 development
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Thorough Introduction into Extension Development for Joomla! 1.5 24 April 2009
By Efthimios Mavrogeorgiadis - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Being one of the most popular and most effective open source Content Management Systems that are available on the internet today, Joomla! has now reached a point where it is supported by a vibrant community of users and extension developers and a bibliographical basis that is growing every day with books that guide readers from the most rudimentary of tasks to its most advanced functionality. Having already published a number of Joomla!-related books authored by prominent members of the community, Packt Publishing has made a major contribution in this direction. Joseph L. LeBlanc's Learning Joomla! 1.5: Extension Development is the latest gem in Packt Publishing's array of Joomla! books, moving along the same line of tutorial-styled writing and bringing the experience of an extension developer onto our desktops.

The blurb on the back cover of the book promises to "get you started coding your first extensions as quickly as possible, and have you adding features that will make your work look professional!" and it goes on to do just that as soon as the first chapter with its definitions and introductory material sets the necessary background. In the next three chapters, the author diligently presents the basic structure of a Joomla! component with its backend and frontend branches, closely following the Model-View-Controller (MVC) design pattern while at the same time paying attention to leave room for future upgrades. As a result, chapter 4 closes with a fully working and flexible component, offering a motivational boost to any budding programmers that are taking their first steps in extension development for Joomla! websites. In chapter 5, the author outlines the usage of three major classes of the Joomla! API (JTable, JHTML and JUser), showing how easy it is to control database tables, create HTML elements, retrieve user details and seamlessly incorporate this ready-made functionality into your code. The next chapter is devoted to module development, which programmers often regard as a trivial task that can be completed quickly and without relying heavily on the Joomla! Framework. However, in this case it is made obvious that, if you adhere to the proposed MVC design pattern and utilize the Joomla! API, you can create modules that will not only be more easily maintained but also have their features extended with a few lines of code.

In chapter 7, Joseph L. LeBlanc returns to the component that seemed to be completed earlier in the book in order to modify it and add extra features such as the option to paginate database records, perform searches, publish and delete records and more. The possibilities that Joomla! 1.5 offers as far as JavaScript Effects are concerned are covered in chapter 8 where the author illustrates how you can exploit the functionality of the MooTools framework in your extension, make use of the Google Maps API, and avoid conflicts in a Joomla!-powered site if you opt for jQuery instead of the preinstalled MooTools. Focus is then shifted to plug-ins and the unlimited power they offer to developers. In this case, the reader learns how to turn simple text into internal links, how to create info boxes automatically, and how to bridge the component's capability to perform searches (as it was presented in chapter 7) with Joomla!'s own search functionality. Finally, the last three chapters deal collectively with Joomla!'s email features, internationalization support, and file handling features as well as the means offered by Joomla! to configure and distribute custom made modules, plug-ins and components like the ones presented in this book.

Joseph L. LeBlanc's Learning Joomla! 1.5: Extension Development is a book that should be read with hands on a local Joomla! installation. The amount of information it contains is overwhelming for anyone who is taking their first steps in the world of extension development for Joomla! and, unless the reader demonstrates to him/herself the code included in the book, s/he may find him/herself at a loss along the way since most of the code presented in later chapters (modules and plug-ins) depends on the component that was created earlier (chapters 2-4). To help in this direction, the author has in all cases included meticulous instructions about the files that should be created or changed and the lines where code should be added or modified. However, this creates the obligation for the reader to go through the book from cover to cover in a linear fashion in order to make the most out of it and make sure that none of the instructions have been missed. This might make some readers impatient (especially, if they are familiar with the basics of developing extensions for Joomla!) or they might find themselves wondering why the author seems to be moving back and forth from file to file amending and improving on code already written instead of presenting and explaining the final version right from the beginning. It seems that, instead of trying to sound instructive, Joseph L. LeBlanc is mimicking an ordinary development process, including new features and revising and adapting old code as he goes on. Had he opted to structure his book differently, the reader would probably have missed what is now made obvious when the last page is read: It is extremely easy to create an extension for Joomla! 1.5 but it is even easier to modify and expand on it if you adhere to the MVC design pattern and rely on the Joomla! API in the first place.

All in all, the book lives up to the promise made in its blurb and offers a solid base from which anyone who knows the basics of PHP and is familiar with object-oriented programming can delve into the world of extension development for Joomla! and the advantages it offers.
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