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One set of Joomla users, multiple Joomla installs

Written by Matt King on . Posted in Joomla, Tips & Tricks, Usability

Every once in a while there will come a time in your Joomla career that will necessitate the need to have two or more Joomla sites for one project. You don’t want to force your users to sign up for two sites–it’s annoying. You want them to sign up once, and be able to login to both the Joomla sites.

There’s an app extension for that

Extensions exist that tackle this problem. jFusion is the biggest player in this arena, and really shines when you need to merge users from Joomla to other CMS’s or scripts such as vBulletin, XenForo, Magento and others. It has it’s flaws though, and after using it for a while I started searching for a different option. After searching for a few weeks I came across this post on Joomla.org. After messing around with many different “extension based” solutions I was excited to try a more backend approach to the problem. Extensions are fine to a point, but jamming your site full of every plugin/component/module that you see on Joomla.org is only going to give you more trouble than it’s worth. Digging into how things work will give you a better understanding of how your site operates and how to keep things lean. In this case, the solution is not all that complicated either.
jfusion or editing jos_tables manually?

Random Indeed.

Warning, Warning Will Robinson!!

This is considered an advanced project that should only be tackled by somebody who is familiar with phpmyadmin, (or some sort of sql tool), how to run sql queries, and is very comfortable with Joomla and it’s inner workings. This should only be attempted on a development site, not on your live site, unless you have a sure fire recovery plan in place already and have no live traffic. Now, with that being said, let’s move on to how we can link two jos_user tables together.
jos_users jfusion & workarounds

DANGER! SQL QUERIES AHEAD!

How to use two Joomla sites with one user table?

Birnik covered the how to pretty well in his post, so there is no sense in me re-inventing the wheel. The only thing I might add is that it is very important to go slow, take your time, turn off any distractions and think the entire thing through.
sharing jos_user tables

This looks scarier than it actually is

Keeping users logged in

Birniks solution is supposed to keep users logged in, so for example, if somebody logs into Site A, and then navigates to Site B, they should not have to re-enter their login info into Site B. I was not so lucky, and it did not work for me. That may be because I was using subdomains instead of sub directories. In the past I tried jFusion and it has a similar quirk, so I was aware of a Joomla core hack that modifies how cookies are handled and allows you to navigate between sites without getting logged out. You can read more about it here. Ignore anything about Moodle, it is not relevant to our situation. fixing joomla subdomains and cookies

Complications?

The only problem I ran into was when new users signed up. They should all go though the main website to register. If they sign up on the slave/sub sites, you will get errors for new users. It’s an easy enough fix however, just add some redirects to send people signing up on the sub sites to the main site.

What’s your solution? Did it work for you?

Do you have any personal experience with attempting to join multiple Joomla sites together? How did it go? Let us know in the comments.

Back. Up. Your. Joomla. Site.

Written by Matt King on . Posted in Extensions Reviews, iJoomla Extensions, Tips & Tricks

backup your joomla siteI can’t be any more clear or succinct about this. If you don’t have a backup plan for your Joomla site, you will eventually have an unrecoverable problem. It’s not your webhosts responsibility, it’s yours and yours alone.

You will get hacked

I hate to be all gloom and doom here, but it’s only a matter of time until your website get’s hacked. You might forget to apply a security update, or your webhost might not be as secure as it needs to be, or you are using an extension with a big security hole. Maybe your site just get’s really popular which put’s you directly into the spotlight, but it will happen. It will happen on a Friday night, when you are out with your mates, having a few drinks and you might not even notice it until Monday. Then you are sunk, with no escape route.
prevent hacks by backing up your joomla site

More common than you may think.

You don’t use a test or a staging site

Do you make changes to your site? Do you do it willy-nilly without testing? Do you install extensions right in the middle of the day on a live site? Inevitably you will install some sort of fancy/flippy/widgety/shiney thing on your site and suddenly your site is broken. You uninstall the extension but it fails and you are left with a site that no longer works. In a perfect world we all have exact clones of our Joomla sites to test from. If all goes well, then we apply the changes to the live site, but not all of us live in this development utopia. If you are like me, you are juggling the management duties of a lot of Joomla sites and you don’t have time for things like testing, clones and staging builds.
clone your joomla site

My live sheep, and my development sheep

The cheap & easy solution

Akeeba Backup has quickly become the “go to” extension for backing up your Joomla site. There are plenty of other systems, and I’m sure they are lovely, but Akeeba is my favorite extension for simple, quick backups for your Joomla site. Akeeba can do daily, weekly, monthly backups, delete your old ones, push them offsite, help you move your site, clone your site, store your site, recover, repair and reinstall it. Best of all, it’s free. Go, go get it, install it, and use it now.

Server level backups

Back that thing up gurl

Personally, I prefer to not have my Joomla site do any heavy lifting. My Joomla site is a website, it’s not a newsletter system, it’s not a backup tool, it’s not a stats generator. It’s a website. Let it do it’s thing. I do backups on the server level. This method is not something everybody can do. If you are hosted at GoDaddy, or Dreamhost or any of the other big box companies this solution is not for you. Think Akeeba. If you run your own server, have multiple websites and clients, then you need to consider this option, as it will save you from logging in and out of the Joomla Admin panel all the time. cPanel/WHM has a terrific backup system preinstalled, you just need to use it. Set it up to backup your accounts daily, weekly and monthly, and then store them both on the server as well as off the server in a remote location. Other server control panels have similar functionality, you just need to set aside the time to set it up properly.

What do you do?

These are my favorite solutions for backups. What system do you have in place? Do you have a better solution? Let us know in the comments.

Keeping your Joomla code tidy

Written by Matt King on . Posted in Joomla, SEO, Tips & Tricks

clean joomla codeThere is more to running a Joomla site then picking out a template, installing a few plugins and releasing it to the world. Is your code neat and legible? Is your site prepped for SEO? Are you loading javascript libraries more than once? In your site executing unnecessary code? Chances are high that there is plenty of fat to be trimmed from your site. Let’s look at some of the bigger issues you might have.

The new Joomla versions roadmap

Written by Matt King on . Posted in Joomla

image showing the new joomla versions info

The roadmap to Joomla bliss

If you use Joomla you are no doubt confused about the direction that the Joomla versions are taking.  I admit, I work with Joomla daily and it has been confusing for even me to follow.  If you Google “Joomla roadmap” the first result is from 2007, and the rest of the results are just as topical. You won’t find much helpful info until you look for “Joomla versions“, and even then it’s not official info, it’s blog posts from other Joomla companies.  No matter, I’m happy to see Joomla is progressing in the right direction finally. The official Joomla channel posted this video showing the detailed Joomla roadmap and explains the new Joomla versions in detail. [youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GCrbPZpek3s[/youtube] If you cannot watch the video, in a nutshell, Ron Severdia of the Production Leadership Team explains the versions and Sandy Ordonez asks various questions. Joomla will go from 1.7 -> 1.8 -> 2.0.  Minor releases will be 2.1, 2.2, 2.3 and long term releases will end in .5.   So a long term release will be 2.5, 3.5, 4.5 for example.  These long term releases will be supported for 18 months.  Minor releases will not have new features, just bug and security fixes.  Long term releases will have bug and security fixes, as well as potentially new toys and changes. The most important takeaway from this is to make sure you upgrade to Joomla 1.7 as soon as possible.   This will be the first version with one click updating from inside your administrator control panel.   In a previous blog post I covered why you would want to upgrade soon.  All in all, it will make your life easier and upgrades a snap. Are the new Joomla versions confusing to you?  Did this post help?

What is new in Joomla 1.7 vs Joomla 1.6?

Written by Matt King on . Posted in Joomla, Security

new features in joomla 1.7 compared to joomla 1.6

Fridge Magnets!

The Joomla team  recently announced Joomla 1.7 is now stable for live sites.  This new version fixes a variety of issues with Joomla 1.6 as well as introduces the ability to upgrade to future versions from within the Administrator panel.
No more uploading via FTP, hooray!
This marks the first step towards a upgrade system that is similar to WordPress, thus making your life as an administrator easier.  The Joomla 1.7 release does not bring a huge amount of changes, but it is a vital step in the right direction for Joomla and it’s new release schedule.  In this article I will cover what is new, if you need to upgrade, and why I used such an ugly graphic for this post.

What are the newest and biggest features?

  • One click upgrades – Starting from Joomla 1.6 you can upgrade your install by going to:  Extensions -> Extension Manager -> Update -> Find updates.
  • Faster release cycles - Short term releases will be changing every six months and only supported for one month after the next release.
  • Multi-Language improvements – Associate menu items to different languages.
There are a variety of other minor changes that you can review on the official Joomla 1.7 page.
joomla upgrade to 1.7 easily

Thank you Joomla

Do I really need to upgrade?

Depending on what version of Joomla your site(s) are on now, this may be the last time you have to do a “scary upgrade”.   Scary meaning doing it all via FTP and hoping you didn’t miss any upgrade instructions or caveats.  Upgrading is really easy since J1.6, so this shouldn’t be a huge deal. It’s also important to note that Joomla 1.6 will go end of life in August 2011.   That means no more security updates or patches or fixes for vulnerabilities.  If your site get’s hacked 6 months from now due to some kid developing some obscure technique, you will only have yourself to blame–not Joomla.  Upgrade them sites!

I am on Joomla 1.5.  How do I do it?

There is no upgrade path from J1.5 to J1.6 or J1.7.   You will have to migrate.  There are a variety of changes from J1.5 to newer versions including changes to tables and the ACL (access control list) so a migration is the only way.  If you are comfortable with migrating from different Joomla releases you probably have a system in place.   If not, you can try out this extension.  I personally have not tried it, but it seems pretty straightforward.  Take all the usual precautions and backup your databases and files before doing something like this.   Try it on your development site first and test the process before doing it on a live site.

I am on Joomla 1.6.  How do I do it?

It’s easy peasy if you already made the leap to Joomla 1.6.   Just go to: Extensions -> Extension Manager -> Update -> Find updates.

What’s up with that ugly Joomla image you used in the beginning of the article?

new features in joomla 1.7 compared to joomla 1.6 Kids refrigerator magnets are cute, cheap and fun.  They also stick to anything metal.  Slapping some fridge magnets on a whiteboard or something metal or *gasp*, your actual fridge is a good way to nag yourself that this upgrade is very important and needs to be done soon.

Do I have to worry about extensions breaking?

As with any upgrade there is always the potential for things to break.  You should never do a upgrade or migration without some tested and proven way to revert back to a working site if it all goes pear shaped.   The changes from J1.6 to J1.7 are pretty minor, but ther are so many extensions that do so many things, it’s hard to make a blanket statement. In regards to iJoomla products, we have fully converted iJoomla AdAgency, iJoomla SEO and iJoomla Surveys as of July 28th 2011.

How about you?

Do you have any tips or tricks I didn’t cover? Let us know in the comments, we would love to hear from you.