This site is built using the Joomla CMS (Content Management System), which allows a number of authors to work more or less independently on maintaining different parts of the site. As well as Joomla itself, the site uses a number of Joomla Extensions, which provide specific functionality used by the site. The main extensions used are as follows:

  • Google Maps - This quite excellent Joomla Extension was selected to display the village maps. Unfortunately its author, Mike Reumer, seems to have retired and the extension is no longer supported. We are in the process of trying to find an alternative Extension, but without much success. It is likely that some of the mapping functionality will have to be changed, and not for the better;
  • JEvents - Another powerful extension, produced by Gareth Evans, which manages and displays the village's event calendar;
  • Ark Editor - The editor provided so that page authors can create and edit content. Originally we selected the JCK Editor, but this is no longer supported. Ark Editor has a number of powerful features, and initially it was difficult to manage to achieve the desired effect. Since the roll-out of Version 2, however, we like it much more;
  • Akeeba Backup - An outstanding Extension, produced by Nicholas Dionysopoulos, which deservedly has won a series of software awards. Used to create periodic backups of the site.

In addition, some other Extensions provide some more minor functionality:

  • Extended Menu - This creates the site's main menu displayed down the left-hand side of every page;
  • DJ-ImageSlider - Used to display the rolling images of the village on the Home page;
  • Shadowbox Media Viewer - Used to display images and other media in a "lightbox".

Generally, Joomla and these Extensions all update semi-automatically. When an administrator logs in, the system carries out a check, and alerts the administrator if any software needs to be updated. Links are displayed to allow the administrator to carry out the updates.

From time to time, support for a Joomla Extension ends (as happened recently with the JCK Editor, which was taken over by ARK and exploited in the rather more complex ARK Editor). When support ends, it becomes necessary to find an alternative Extension, from the list published by Joomla.

Major updates of the Joomla system (from version 1.5 to 2.5, and then from 2.5 to version 3) required significant effort and expertise. For site security, it is important to keep using well-maintained software, so these upgrades were entirely necessary. Joomla have suggested that future major upgrades will be done more automatically.

The layout of the site's pages (home page and other pages) is defined via a Joomla Template. A Template was originally written for us, to our specification, by Web Choice UK. As part of the upgrade from Joomla 1.5 to 2.5, significant changes to the template software were needed in order to achieve the same site design. A template called spatomic was developed, merging the special features from the Web Choice UK template into the "atomic" Joomla standard template. This template was usable with very little change when we migrated to Joomla 3.

The template files that implement the unique look-and-feel of our site are:

  • template.css, which contains the CSS definitions that format individual elements of the site. Recently the contents of template.css have been divided between two files; template.css containing format definitions required by the ARK Editor, and templateExtra.css containing definitions not required by the Editor;
  • a number of other CSS files, with names such as bkg_home.css, which specify the "watermark" image displayed as background to each page;
  • index.php, which contains code to write the page. There are separate sections of code to create the left-hand margin (with the main menu etc.), the home page, and all other pages.

These files can be edited from the Templates section (accessed via the Extensions menu). However, a good knowledge of PHP and CSS is needed before tackling maintenance of these files.


Ark Editor setup

Ark Editor is a very powerful package, with a multitude of facilities only some of which have been used for the Sutton Poyntz website. The following table explains how the editor has been set up to deliver what is needed.

Options (available via Components > Ark Editor > Control Panel)
  • In Toolbar Header, a number of buttons and tables can be displayed. These have all been disabled by selecting Hide.
  • In Inline, inline editing has been disabled.
  • In Media Manager, it is most important that both the root image path and the root document path are set to images.
  • In Styles,
    • the Stylelist source is set to Auto Stylesheet Parser
    • the following stylesheets are added to the exclude list: templateExtra, djimageslider, and shadowbox
    • the following selectors are added to the exclude list: div., p., #wrapper, span.label, span.badge, img.img-, table.table, table.tablestriped, ul.unstyled, img.thumbnail and i.icon
Plugins (available via Components > Ark Editor> Plugin Manager)
  • In the Format plugin, the following formats are removed: Heading 4 to Heading 6 inclusive, Formatted, Address, and Normal (DIV)
  • Plugins Video and Audio are disabled
Layout (available via Components > Ark Editor > Layouts)

The Back layout is set in the following groups, with spacers between groups:

  • Select All, Cut, Copy, Paste, Paste as text, Paste from Word,
  • Undo, Redo, Remove Format, Find, Replace,
  • Styles, Bold, Italic, Underline, Strikethrough, Subscript, Superscript,
  • Format, Align Left, Centre, Align Right,
  • Numbered List, Bulleted List, Decrease Indent, Increase Indent,
  • Special Character, Image, Table, Horizontal Line,
  • Tree Link, Document, Unlink, Anchor,
  • Enable SCAYT, Check Spelling,
  • Source, Create Div, Maximize, Show Blocks, Preview, About Ark Editor

The Styles setup is intended to leave only the styles actually used visible in the Styles dropdown menu. Unfortunately, I have been unable to get Ark Editor to remove one unused styles - p.article_component - from the menu. This style is actually the one used throughout the whole site, so selecting this style has no effect, but it is annoying that the Editor does not seem able not to display it.