Category Archives: joomla

July Day UK 2017

Joomla Day UK 2017

This year’s UK Joomla Day is on 8th July at the Ilec Conference Centre, in west London.

There’s a varied programme of talks on topics such as the new custom fields in Joomla, Joomla & SEO, and a chance to sit the new Joomla! administrator certification exam.

So, if you’re a Joomla! designer or developer, a Joomla! webmaster or own a Joomla! website, there’s plenty of good stuff on offer. These days are also a great opportunity to meet other Joomlers and take part in the wider Joomla! community.

Perhaps we can meet up if you’re going?

J&Beyond 2017

This year I’ll be delivering a talk on “E-commerce Pratfalls & Pitfalls” at the Joomla! & Beyond 2017 conference at Krakow, Poland. Drawing on 15 years experience in e-commerce, I’ll be outlining some of the issues that site owners encounter & how to overcome at least some of them.

Joomla Day UK

I’ll be speaking at this year’s Joomla Day UK conference on 4th October on the tricky subject of pricing. The title of my talk is “You’re too cheap & not nearly nasty enough”, which gives you some idea of what I think about the subject.

Tickets for the event are still available and there’s a great line up of talented speakers. Hopefully we’ll see some of you there.

Northampton Skip Hire

Northants Skip Hire
Northants Skip Hire

I’m pleased to announce that Northampton skip hire website is now live and bringing in orders.

This website is part of a wider portfolio of Joomla! websites owned by Bakers Waste Services, and is part of the expansion of their waste management operations in the East Midlands.

Writing a Joomla plugin

I’ve been working on a Joomla! project recently & have needed to write several plugins so I thought I’d write about how I wrote one that notified administrator when a user updates their JomSocial profile.

About Plugins

Joomla! plugins are code that implements additional features without the need to hack core code. Often they ‘plugin’ into system events (or hooks) & therefore enable developers to fire custom code at certain points in the execution cycle.

If you look under the plugins folder of your Joomla! installation, you’ll see that Joomla! ships with quite a few plugins, under folders such as ‘authentication’, ‘search’, ‘system’, etc. Each folder groups similar types of plugins & you’ll often find that a component will install its own plugins and/or folder of plugins.

Look within these folders and you’ll see that plugins follow a convention. There is a minimum of two files: a .php & a .xml file. Sometimes there is a blank index.html file (to prevent directory browsing) and sometimes a language file. We will deal with these files when we look at our example below.

The Requirement

The website I’ve been developing uses JomSocial & the administrator wanted to be alerted every time a member updated their JomSocial profile. Joomla! plugins are well suited to satisfy this type of requirement. The key is to find if JomSocial has any event or hook that we can call when the user saves their profile update.

Fortunately JomSocial has such an event: onAfterProfileUpdate($userId, $saveSuccess). So, the next stage is to figure out how to write a plugin that calls this code.

When you install JomSocial it creates a ‘community’ sub-folder with the plugin directory. There you will find several plugins, depending on the JomSocial feature set you have included.

So that’s the obvious place for us to include our plugin. I named my plugin notify, so it will sit under joomla/plugins/community/notify. It consists of 5 files: notify.php, notify.xml. index.html & then two language files under joomla/plugins/community/language/en-GB called en-GB.plg_community_notify.ini &  en-GB.plg_community_notify.sys.ini. These two ini files are not mandatory, but they provide a way of translating message strings if required.

So, to the two essential files: notify.php & notify.xml. The xml file is the easiest to create, since it follows a standard convention. It’s a file that tells Joomla! how & where to install your plugin & what files are dependencies of the plugin. Here’s the code within notify.xml:

<?xml version="1.0"?>
<extension version="2.5" type="plugin" group="community" method="upgrade">
 <name>Notify Administrator Jom Social Community Plugin</name>
 <version>1.1.1</version>
 <creationDate>Sept 2012</creationDate>
 <author>Eddie May</author>
 <authorEmail>ecm@freshwebservices.com</authorEmail>
 <authorUrl>http://www.freshwebservices.com/</authorUrl>
 <copyright>@freshwebservices</copyright>
 <license>GNU GPL v2.0</license>
 <description>This plugin alerts admin each time a user updates their JomSocial profile.</description>
 <files> 
 <filename plugin="notify">notify.php</filename>
 <filename>index.html</filename>
 <folder>language</folder>
 </files>
 <config>
 <fields name="params">
 <fieldset name="basic">
 <field
 name="admin_id"
 type="text"
 default=""
 label="PLG_COMMUNITY_NOTIFY_ADMIN_ID_LABEL"
 description="PLG_COMMUNITY_NOTIFY_ADMIN_ID_DESC"
 required="true"
 filter="string"
 size="50" />
 <field
 name="email_subject"
 type="text"
 default=""
 label="PLG_COMMUNITY_NOTIFY_EMAIL_SUBJECT_LABEL"
 description="PLG_COMMUNITY_NOTIFY_EMAIL_SUBJECT_DESC"
 required="true"
 filter="string"
 size="50" />
<field
 name="email_text"
 type="text"
 default=""
 label="PLG_COMMUNITY_NOTIFY_ADMIN_EMAIL_TEXT_LABEL"
 description="PLG_COMMUNITY_NOTIFY_ADMIN_EMAIL_TEXT_DESC"
 required="true"
 filter="string"
 size="50" />
 </fieldset>
 </fields>
 </config>
</extension>

Essentially this file tells Joomla! and the administrator what it is, who wrote it, what it does, what dependencies the plugin has (under the files bit) and that it has three fields that the administrator must complete: admin_id, email_subject, email_text. This is data that will be passed to the plugin to use when it executes.

You’ll notice that the convention is that required files have the same naming convention: notify in this example. They sit under a folder called notify, & there is notify.xml & notify.php. Let’s look at notify.php.

<?php
/**
 * This class notifies named site administrator who/when a profile is updated
 * 
 * @author Eddie May
 * @date Sept 20212
 */
// no direct access
defined('_JEXEC') or die;
jimport( 'joomla.plugin.plugin' );
jimport('joomla.mail.helper');
class plgCommunitynotify extends JPlugin{
 function onAfterProfileUpdate($userId, $saveSuccess){
 if(empty($saveSuccess)){
 return;
 }

 $adminID = $this->params->get('admin_id');
 $subject = $this->params->get('email_subject');
 $emailText = $this->params->get('email_text');

 if ($adminID == null || $adminID == '')
 {
 throw new Exception(JText::_('No Admin User ID - cannot send email notification without it'));
 }

 $user = JFactory::getUser($adminID);
 $userEmail = $user->get('email');
 $fromName = $user->get('username');
 $updatedUser = JFactory::getUser($userId);
 $updatedName = $updatedUser->get('username');
 $body = 'Hi, the following user ' . $updatedName .' with user id of ' . $userId .' ';
 $body .= 'has just updated their profile. ';
 $body .= 'Please review and update their public fields accordingly. ';
 $body .= ' '. $emailText . ' ';
 JFactory::getMailer()->sendMail($userEmail, $fromName, $userEmail, $subject, $body);
 return true; 
 }
}//eof class

So, we’ll examine this class is a little more detail. We start with a non-mandatory comment section, telling any future developer about the file. Then we have the  security call: defined(‘_JEXEC’) or die; This prevents the file from being called outside of the Joomla! application.

The next lines import dependencies the class requires. As I want to email the administrator, I import the Joomla! mailer functionality. Then I declare or create the class itself: class plgCommunitynotify extends JPlugin{ Note the naming convention – plg+folder+class name.

Then we’re into the functionality of the class. Essentially we build a function that calls the JomSocial event onAfterProfileUpdate($userId, $saveSuccess) which gives us two variables that we can work with. The id of the user who is updating their profile & a boolean to tell us if the update was successful.

So, we do a couple of checks – if $saveSuccess is false, it means the update failed & we don’t need to do anything else. So we exit.

If all is well, we then retrieve the information that the administrator entered when s/he installed the plugin

$adminID = $this->params->get('admin_id');
$subject = $this->params->get('email_subject');
$emailText = $this->params->get('email_text');

We bailout if the admin_id is missing: if ($adminID == null || $adminID == ”). If the information is there, we can use that later to get the administrator user.

In the next couple of lines we get the admin user, their email, etc:

$user = JFactory::getUser($adminID);
$userEmail = $user->get('email');
$fromName = $user->get('username');

& also the details of the JomSocial user:

$updatedUser = JFactory::getUser($userId);
$updatedName = $updatedUser->get('username');

Then we can construct the email that will be sent to the administrator:

$body = 'Hi, the following user ' . $updatedName .' with user id of ' . $userId .' ';
 $body .= 'has just updated their profile. ';
 $body .= 'Please review and update their public fields accordingly. ';
 $body .= ' '. $emailText . ' ';

Then we use the standard Joomla! mailer functionality to send the email:

JFactory::getMailer()->sendMail($userEmail, $fromName, $userEmail, $subject, $body);

Finally we exit our class by calling return true;

To deploy your plugin you just zip your notify folder up & install it using the Joomla! installer. You then need to publish the plugin within the Joomla! backend.

Conclusion

The key to writing such a plugin is to find the correct system or component event to call or hook into. Its worth looking at component APIs before you buy if you think that you may need to extend them with a plugin. A quick email to the component developer is a good tip – if s/he takes an age to respond, then it might be a signal that their support is not so good. If there’s no published API, that’s also a cause for concern – good software has good documentation!

Joomla Upgrade Issue

Today I upgraded a Joomla website from 2.5.4 to 2.5.6 using the Updater. However, when I went to the home page the featured article was not displaying. For some reason, the upgrade had apparently (although I could be wrong on this one) set the ‘Finish Publishing’ date to ‘0000-00-00 00:00:00’.

Clearing this setting resulted in the featured article displaying on the home page. Quite why this happened I’m not sure, since the date setting ‘0000-00-00 00:00:00’ basically means never stop publishing. However, setting it to blank and saving had the desired effect.

EU Cookie Law Clarification

On May 26th the UK implemented the EU Cookie Directive. Only hours before it became law did the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) clarify what website owners were expected to do about cookies!

After many scare stories about getting users to opt-in for almost every type of cookie, and of massive fines for non-compliance, this latest clarification essentially seems to say the following: we can assume “implied consent” for most “non tracking” cookies. That is, if you have a shopping cart or use Google Analytics, etc, you can cover yourself by having appropriate statements in your terms and conditions. This is how Amazon.co.uk appear to have handled the issue.

So, crisis over? Well, I’m not a lawyer, so your mileage may vary!

Leicester Joomla Website Design

Today we launched a new website for a longstanding client, Stanhope House Day Nursery, Leicester.

Built using the popular open source Joomla! content management system, the website includes a forum for parents, a front page image gallery and image popups to maximise screen space.

Now their website uses a content management system, nursery staff will now be able to use the website as one of the main communication channels with existing and prospective parents.

Skip Hire Leicester

Leicester skip hire home pageLeicester Skips, which promotes the Leicestershire skip hire service provided by Bakers Waste Services, has just launched.

Designed and developed by Leicester web design company Fresh Web Services, this Joomla! powered website has been designed to conform to existing branding and styles. The website also adheres to a ‘conversion led design’ approach, meaning that it is optimised for conversion – at every stage users are gently encouraged to either make contact or complete an online skip order form.

Joomla Intranet & shared services

I have just completed a Joomla intranet project. Two district councils are embarking upon a programme of “shared services” in an attempt to reduce costs and improve efficiencies.

As part of this programme, these district councils are to share a common intranet, removing the need to renew licences for a propriety content management system. This was part of the reasoning behind the choice of Joomla! to power the intranet. Another reason they chose Joomla! was the belief it would be cheaper than Drupal!