Insights From: "The Official Joomla! Book" (Part 2)

Written by | 01 December 2010 | Published in 2010 December
During Joomla!Day West 2010 Pearson Publishing announced the release of Joomla! Press. The mission of Joomla! Press is to enhance the Joomla! experience by providing useful, well-written, and engaging publications for all segments of the Joomla! Community from beginning users to framework developers. Titles in Joomla! Press are authored by leading experts and contributors in the community.
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The Official
Joomla! Book

The Official Joomla! Book is the authoritative, and comprehensive Joomla! reference for every administrator, developer, designer, and content manager. Distilling the extensive experience of two long-time Joomla! contributors, it teaches exactly what you need to know, through practical example sites and crystal-clear explanations. 

If you’re new to Joomla!, you’ll learn how to quickly create usable, effective sites. If you’re an experienced Joomla! user, you’ll learn how to make your sites more flexible, feature-rich, visually attractive, and useful. And whether new or experienced, you’ll learn how Joomla! really works, so you can fully leverage its power whenever you’re ready. You'll also get to know the Joomla! community by hearing from twelve community members through in-depth interviews, and you’ll learn how to participate in the Joomla! project in ways that make sense for you.

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The Insights

Excerpt from Chapter 11

A Look at Joomla! 1.6 and the Future

Just like all software, Joomla! will have new releases that add major new features and make other changes. These are different from the maintenance releases for 1.5 that are regularly distributed that fix bugs and deal with any security issues. Although you should always keep your 1.5 site up-to-date with the current release of Joomla! 1.5, whether you should move your site to Joomla! 1.6 or a newer release is a more complicated issue.

Eventually, you will want your site to be on the most up-to-date version of Joomla!, but for many 1.5 users who are happy with the functionality of their sites, there is no reason to rush to move your site to Joomla! 1.6. Although each new release includes new features and improvements, if your site doesn’t need those features and you don’t want to move it, there is no reason for you to hurry to do so. Joomla! 1.5 will be supported for one year after the release of Joomla! 1.6, so you have lots of time to make the transition to a new version and may even decide to wait until the release of 1.7 or 1.8 to actually move your site.

On the other hand, if you think you need the new features or are adding new extensions, you may decide to move to the new release since many extension developers will be turning their main attention to Joomla! 1.6. Inexperienced users should not create a site with any new Joomla! release until the release is labeled General Availability or Stable. Many users will want to wait until after the first maintenance release, which will be Joomla! 1.6.1. That release will resolve any issues that emerge soon after the initial release.


Access Control (ACL)

The largest and most anticipated addition to Joomla! 1.6 is the flexible access control system, called ACL (for access control lists). ACL allows you to control who sees what and who can do what on your site. This has long been the most-requested feature for Joomla! In Joomla! 1.5, you are already working with a basic access control model. There are three access levels controlling what a user can see (Guest, Registered, and Special) and eight access groups controlling what a user can do (Guest, Registered, Author, Editor, Publisher, Manager, Administrator, and Super Administrator). For the many Web sites, these groupings are adequate, and for many they may even be too complicated (for example, you may not want to distinguish between authors, editors, and publishers). 

When you install Joomla! 1.6, the Joomla! 1.5 access control system is re-created for you. From there you have the option of leaving the settings as they are or modifying them. Migrating your site will leave your users with the same access rights they have now. Some Web sites will, however, be strengthened by taking advantage of the new flexibility of this system in Joomla! 1.6. However, you should plan carefully about the needs of your site before implementing any changes. The following are some situations where you might want to create more detailed access control.

  • You want a group of users only to be able to create articles in one specific category.
  • You want to hide something from a group of users.
  • You want someone to help you administer some parts of your site but not other parts.

Figure 11.5 shows the new Global Configuration page’s Permissions tab where you set up permissions for user groups. In Joomla! 1.5, each item of content from a component, each module, each menu link, and each plugin can be assigned to exactly one access level. This is still true in Joomla! 1.6, except that you can create more levels. Those levels are hierarchical. So, special users can see everything registered users can see. Registered users can see everything the public can see.


In Joomla! 1.6, you have much more flexibility, but it is also much more complex. You can add new levels and groups. Groups can be assigned to more than one level.Users can be assigned to more than one group. Both groups and levels may inherit permissions from each other. You can also modify the privileges given to the existing groups from Joomla! 1.5 that are present when you install. Because of this complexity, you should plan any changes in detail before implementing.

Access levels allow you to control what users see. Much more powerful are the access groups that control what users can do. The access groups can manage nine actions. 

  • Site login, which controls logging into the front end of your site.
  • Administrator login, which controls logging into the administrator.
  • Create, which controls the creation of content such as articles, Web links, contacts,and categories.
  • Edit, which controls whether the user can modify existing content.
  • Edit State, which controls whether the use can publish, unpublish, archive, or trash content.
  • Delete, which controls deletion of trashed content items.
  • Manage, which allows access to the administrator for a component, but by itself only allows the user to view, not create, edit, edit state, or delete.
  • Admin, which allows the user to configure component options. When set globally, the admin controls whether a user can set global configurations and a user with global admin access can always see everything on a site. You will always want to have the chief administrator of your site to have this access.
  • Edit own, which allows the user to content they created (as indicated by the created by field in the editor).

All of these privileges can be set at the global level, at the component level, and at the category level within each component. They can also be set for individual articles. 

Copyright 2010 Pearson Education, Inc.  Excerpts republished with permission.

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Matt Lipscomb

Matt Lipscomb

Matt Lipscomb is a designer and developer focusing completely on the Joomla! CMS. Hailing from Gadsden, Alabama, Matt's former background is hotel development and management with a focus in online reservation systems. Since 2006 he has been building commercial websites based on the Joomla platform and in 2008 opened up Joomla Web Design by USAFL.  He is a member of the Joomla! Leadership Team, and co-manager of the JED and JRD.  Matt also serves on the Joomla! Community Magazine as Feature Stories Editor.