Praiseworthy Joomla User Experience
As I stand here, staring down the corridor of endless possibilities for interfaces and user experiences, I must report that I can see the future and it looks good. Joomla’s administrator template system has come quite a long way.
Back in the year 2008 I started my Joomla! administrator interface adventure. Like many, I felt that the default Joomla! administrator experience fell short of my needs and my clients’ expectations. I thought to myself: “How could such a customizable, fluid CMS have such a static, fixed user interface?”
Flexibility of an admin interface was important in 2008, but it’s imperative in 2011. Joomla! has millions more users, thousands more extensions, and endless possibilities for uses. We need a more advanced interface now more than ever.
From Concept to Obsession
AdminPraise was a proof-of-concept that became a template, which became an entire template club, which became an obsession and mission. In the beginning, Joomla’s most prominent voices questioned the need for my alternative admin templates. Slowly though, the validity of ongoing admin improvements became more obvious to all. You can now find admin templates from five developers other than myself, with at least twelve admin templates including my seven.
I’m Givin’ Her All She’s Got
It was incredibly fortunate that Joomla! 1.5 included the ability to install admin templates, even if the admin template api wasn’t fully flushed out. Workarounds and overrides have been a common theme thus far, but that’s all about to change. With Joomla! 1.6 and 1.7, several core enhancements have made it possible to do much more with an admin template. One such enhancement is the ability to override admin views via an admin template and totally customize the layout.
ACL We Can All Grasp
AdminPraise3 for Joomla! 1.7 began as a port of the Joomla! 1.5 version, which was already our most advanced effort by far. We were able to port over the interface, activity steam, quick article module, module to quickly change text editor, and most features with no problem. In porting our admin menu system though, we made the change from the static user groups in Joomla! 1.5 to the custom user groups in Joomla! 1.7. This means that you can now change the entire admin interface for each administrator user group by editing menu items just as you would in the frontend menu system.
In Joomla! 1.7 you can now assign a specific admin template to an individual user. This is a great new feature, as each user can have their own admin user experience. We were able to hook into this new feature and create a plugin (free download from TapTheme) that automatically activates a particular admin template for each browser. This is extremely useful for using mobile optimized admin templates, or assigning templates to older browser, etc. There’s so much more we can do with Joomla’s admin now, so get ready for some cool stuff in the coming months.
JUX Do It
If you’re not familiar with the Joomla! community dev cycle of innovation, here’s my interpretation:
- Joomla’s core lacks a feature
- one Joomla! developer creates a project/product to provide this feature
- many Joomla! developers create alternate solutions for the same problem
- what should happen next? These Joomla! developers should contribute their experience back into a core solution appropriate for the masses.
Enter the Joomla! User eXperience (JUX) project. JUX will be comprised of core and community usability experts on a mission to improve the overall experience and standards.
Stay tuned for more on this soon.