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:

  • GMapFP - This is the extension we are currently using to generate the Google Maps that are an important part of the website. When the site was first written, we used an excellent extension called Google Maps, but its author has retired and it is no longer supported;
  • 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. See the note below on how Ark Editor is currently set up;
  • 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. At a later stage, this template was edited again to make it responsive (i.e. so that it could change the presentation to fit the window or device size in a sensible manner.

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

  • template.css, which contains the CSS definitions that format the text and images etc. displayed on the site's pages;
  • files templateResponsive.css and templateFixed.css (and previously file templateExtra.css) which contain CSS definitions needed to structure the page environment within which the website content is displayed;
  • 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 which is transmitted to the user's screen. There are separate sections of code to create the left-hand or top 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 Custom Stylesheet File, and below, the box labelled Custom Stylesheet File is set to templates/spatomic/css/template.css, in order to pick up the styles provided by the site template.
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

For this, the Ark Editor TreeLink plugin needs to be installed - this is not part of the standard Ark Editor package, but is available from the Ark Editor website.

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.