Essential Joomla! extensions

Joomla! developers offer up their favorite extensions

by Daniel P. Dern - In addition to the main open source project, Joomla! has extensions -- thousands of applications, templates and more (5449 as of August 17, according to the Extensions web page) -- created by the Joomla-using community. This includes administrative tools, Twitter widgits, "Share With Facebook," vertical industry applications, and more.

And they're affordable. "A typical extension is less than thirty dollars, and the vast majority are free," according to Joomla! co-founder of Mitch Pirtle.

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"From a development standpoint, Joomla! offers the extensions to cover a wide range of needs," says Rob Graham, CEO of TrainingCraft, a consulting firm that provides support and training surrounding digital advertising, including Joomla! development. "Every time a client says 'We need something like this' I can usually find one, and at a very reasonable cost."

I asked some developers what their favorite Joomla! extensions are, and other recommendations. Here's what they said:

"The Commerce extension is good for people who want to sell online build an online store," suggests Mitch Pirtle. "Smaller shops can use VirtueMart, which is an evolving fork of PhP Shop, and the new TIENDA, a Joomla! native commerce suite."

"VirtueMart lets anybody set up an online store easily," echoes Rob Graham. "It includes amazing inventory control, the ability to add photos, pricing including pricing deals... and what's most amazing is that it's free."

Graham also recommends Community Builder: "I'm using it a lot, it lets you control data, like for building sign-up sheets."

Joomla! also provides extensions so you can integrate your Joomla! site with external platforms, such as the popular Magento commerce platform, says Pirtle. "You can use Joomla! to run the company side, and Magento for commerce, and the MageBridge extension lets them talk directly to each other, like sharing user accounts."

Jen Kramer, Senior Interface Developer at 4Web, Inc., which builds highly customized Joomla! websites, likes Akeeba Backup, "because it will backup your entire Joomla! web site plus the database, all to a single self-contained .jpa file. With this, you can move your Joomla! site from development to production, or to a new web host -- it's easy to unzip the file and reinstall it where you want it."

Kramer also likes the JCE WYSIWYG editor. "JCE has a number of features that significantly improve Joomla!'s usability. For example, it's much easier, especially for end users, to make links to pages within the site, to PDF and DOC files. And JCE has improved the 'paste' function, so if you paste from Word, it will clean up all the extraneous code that normally shows up, and it's automatic, you don't have to select 'Paste From Word.'"

Tamar Schanfeld, Joomla! Project Manager, ShofarSites, which creates websites for synagogues, and TNR Global, which does corporate websites, and Joomla! training and support recommends the Update Manager for Joomla!, for updating the Joomla! core; the Add To Menu administrative module, which "lets you add articles to menus quickly;" and the Advanced Module Manager, "which provides fine-tuned control of where the modules appear, beyond what the Joomla! core can provide."

Daniel P. Dern is a freelance technology writer based in Newton Center, MA. His web site is and his technology blog is

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