I just completed my first Joomla site this week – I’m normally a WordPress developer but I’ve been wanting to branch out. Here are the three biggest obstacles I overcame:

1. When your Joomla site suddenly starts displaying blank pages where completed pages used to be, you need to increase your PHP memory allocation.

I had to find this one out by visiting multiple Joomla threads, until someone gave the helpful advice that Joomla is by default set to NOT show error messages. Obviously error messages would be helpful, so they explained how to find this setting in the Global Configuration. Once on, I could clearly see an error message in place of the blank pages showing that those pages were exceeding a memory allocation. I googled the error message and found more threads giving suggestions about where to change it. The first suggestion was that I change my php.ini file – I was a little hesitant about getting into something of type “ini” but it turned out to be a red herring: although there was a line in it clearly limiting my PHP memory to 8 bytes, changing it did nothing. I took the next piece of advice that told me to rename my htaccess.txt file to .htaccess and add a line about increasing the memory (they provided the code). That did the trick.

2. Just because it’s a position option in your drop down doesn’t mean it’s on the template.

This was one of my first roadblocks and it really confused me. Why was it giving me the option of placing a module in “user11″ yet nothing was showing up? After finding the way to preview the template’s position presets, I discovered there was no position “user11″ on the page. I had to go into the template code and add it. Pop! Up it came.

3. TinyMCE is the name of your admin image editor, and it needs to be set to ‘Advanced.’

I couldn’t figure out why, when working inside an article, I couldn’t add padding to an image. Nothing would work. The image editor had fields for adding alignment and padding, but when the article was published these disappeared. Inline styles were immediately stripped. I took some forum suggestions and attempted a fix in the main CSS, but that was equally ignored. Finally I found a thread where a respondent explained that the image editor was controlled by a plugin named TinyMCE, and by default it’s set with an option checked called “Clean up my code on save.” I can’t think of a scenario in which I would want Joomla altering my code to its own whims, so I went right to the plugin settings, turning on its advanced options at the same time. This not only solved my problem, but opened up a ton of useful options that I have no idea why someone would assume I wouldn’t want.

In conclusion: Joomla has some advantages and I feel very comfortable with it now, but it has asinine default settings. I’ll be keeping all of this in mind for my next project and I hope this saves some time for someone else out there.

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