10 Joomla extension modules for easier and better websites

If you're using Joomla to develop and administer your website, these tools can help.

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Googlemaps Plugin

Developer: Mike Reumer

Version tested: 2.17

Certified for: Joomla 1.5/2.5

Price: Free

Happiness is a dead-simple plug-in that works right out of the box. That's what developer Mike Reumer has put together with his nicely designed Googlemaps Plugin.

Once enabled, you just enter a special tag (by default, {mosmap}) for the plug-in to appear within any page. The tag's default view can be easily set within the configuration settings or parameters can be added to have the displayed map show any location you wish in a variety of sizes and overlay choices.

Googlemaps Plugin
Googlemaps Plugin is a great way to add mapping functionality to your site.

I'd say more about this plug-in, but that's pretty much it. I was tickled to play around with the parameters (which aren't that hard to work with) to get some seriously cool interactive maps in place, and can't wait to figure out how to add these to my own site.


Developer: Widget Factory Ltd.

Version tested: (for Joomla 2.5)

Certified for: Joomla 1.5/2.5

Price: Free (Add-ons extra)

I'm a little ambivalent about this next plug-in, the Joomla Content Editor, also known as JCE. But it's not through any fault of the plug-in itself.

I like my writing tools very simple and free from distraction. I need to focus on the words themselves, not all the dandified formatting and alignment tools that can be a big distraction. That's why I like tools like GNU Emacs or iA Writer depending on the platform I'm using, and that's why I can appreciate using the default editor within Joomla, TinyMCE. TinyMCE is simple, has some straightforward formatting tools, and there you are.

But putting my own idiosyncrasies aside, I have to say that for getting the look and feel of your site really crafted well, JCE has no peer. JCE doesn't replace TinyMCE, it adds on to what's there to give you a really robust editing tool.

Installation of JCE is easy; to activate it, you simply go into your site's Global Configuration settings and select JCE as your Default Editor.

JCE offers a lot of editing and formatting functionality.

By far my favorite tool in that massive toolbar is the Full Screen toggle button, which expands the entire editor out to the entire browser screen. My second-favorite control is the Toggle Editor link just about the JCE field that hides that four-row toolbar so it's out of the way to let me do what I like to do: write.

There are a few add-ons available for JCE, such as a Media Manager and an extended Image Manager, and yes, there's a subscription required to access these plug-ins, starting at 25 euros (about $32), with renewals starting a 15 euros (about $20). There's a nice demo site available if you want to see if the plug-ins are right for you.

If you want to fine-tune the look and feel of your site's content, then I would definitely recommend JCE.


Developer: JEvents

Version tested: 2.2.7 (for Joomla 2.5)

Certified for: Joomla 1.5/2.5

Price: Free (Modules, themes extra)

Like many of the other modules within this review, JEvents, an events and calendar extension, has a free central component that has a number of additional add-ons and support services available. But this is a tool that's so complete as is, you may be hard pressed to need the additional features.

That's a little bit of hyperbole, but not very much. Right after installing JEvents, the main configuration screen pops up for you to get things squared away; there are a lot of options with which to work, including enabling the import/exports of iCal files and setting up an RSS feed for your events.

Setting a calendar up is straightforward: Just create a menu items and point the item to one of the many JEvents options that are available.

JEvents can get date information across to site visitors fast.

One thing to remember: You can't directly populate a calendar with events. You have to add a Create JEvents menu item that will enable that functionality.

This is not the smoothest plug-in in this collection, but with a little legwork, you can get exactly what you need out of JEvents.

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