JFBConnect: Let's do more with Social Networks
Social media is HOT these days… or at least that’s what people say. So let’s have a look at JFBConnect and review whether the extension does the trick integrating social media into Joomla without using too many API’s.
I used the latest version (at the moment of writing) of JFBConnect, which is 6.0.2, and installed it on a blank J!3.2.3. Installation went smoothly, and directly after uploading the extension it gives the possibility to ‘Autotune’ the component. Let’s give it a shot…
The auto configuration tool gives you four presets, Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn and Twitter. The script asks you for the ID’s or keys to connect with the API’s and services of the networks. If you know these things you’re fine, if you don’t, you’re still fine because the documentation they give you guides you through step by step.
After filling all of the fields (or some - Facebook however is required if you use the auto configuration), JFBConnect checks the settings of your plugin. The Facebook app is double checked by JFBConnect, and it will show you the fields you have to correct and even make a recommendation. Afterwards the configurator checks the site settings (if the necessary plugins are activated, etc.), and finalizes with an error check. (Note: because I tested the extension on a localhost, some API's had problems because the domain was unreachable). When the auto configuration is finished, I'll move on to the control panel.
When I go into the control panel, I have several options. The general configuration is mostly filled with the information we provided at the auto configuration:
In the social tab of the configuration you can activate commenting (Facebook), social sharing towards connected networks, notifications and others. It’s easy to do and when you’re not sure about a setting, just hover over the setting and the information is shown.
With the comments plugin you can add the possibility for visitors to leave a comment on your article and directly post it to Facebook. You can control the number of comments you want to publish, the color scheme, if you want to include or exclude some categories etc.
The Like plugin allows you to add the share buttons for social networks such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+ and Pinterest. You have some nice extra features such as showing faces and changing fonts. Also here you can include and exclude categories and articles.
In the notifications tab you can set an email alert for whenever somebody posts a new comment or likes your article.
When the comments and like plugin are activated on the bottom of each article, I go and check the front end. It looks great, and the functions are working great. However, if you are not satisfied with the standard details that are posted to the social network (when ever a user likes an article, comments on it, or likes your page), you can go into the control panel of JFBConnect and change the settings. The Open Graph (cfr. Facebook) can be built with a custom layout. Keep in mind that you really need knowledge about Open Graph to do so, so take a look at this: https://developers.facebook.com/docs/opengraph/.
Under the general configuration we can also put the setting for the user registration through social authentication. All connected networks can be used for the registration of new users on your site. And it offers you some fast and easy options such as 1-click registration, auto username creation, and skip activation. If you want users to get registered on your site and get well connected by social networks, this is a must do!
Using the module SClogin you activate the user subscription by Google+, Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn. Afterwards in the backend you can find and manage the users that subscribed to your site using the JFBConnect.
JFBConnect integrates with several other extensions such as JomSocial, Community Builder, K2, and Virtuemart.
This extension has a lot of extra features that I didn’t get into. Different social widgets are possible, the sending of requests and invitations to Facebook by one click from your site, and configuring your Facebook page tab and canvas.
I tested this extension especially for the sharing, commenting and 1-click registration, and from that standpoint, the extension provided everything I was looking for. The documentation and tutorials the developer published are however a must read if you want to get the most out of this component. If you test or install this component on a localhost, you might encounter some issues with user registration, but once you bring it to a live environment these will be solved if configured correctly.
Editor's Note: Mike Veeckmans is an impartial extension reviewer for the magazine. He is in no way associated with, solicited by, or benefits from any of the extension companies covered here.