There inevitably comes a moment during a Joomla! User Group meetup when someone asks the question “What’s the best free Joomla Extension?” Usually it has to do with something that they’re trying to accomplish, but over the years of running the local Joomla User Group in Detroit, Michigan, I’ve noticed that without fail, some of the same extensions keep coming up, and being discussed every time.
Going back over the notes from those meetings, a few extensions keep coming up when we talk about specific topics relating to extensions in those areas. So, I decided to put together a “roundup” of the top five free Joomla extensions for beginners as an introductory blog post for newer Joomla admins that is designed to help get your site setup with minimal cost and with the most commonly used and trusted Joomla extensions.
One might ask why we’re listing other Joomla Extension Developers’ free Joomla extensions, rather than our own (paGO Commerce, for instance). Well, the answer is simple: 1) First, we’re biased, so we had to recuse ourselves from the listing; but more importantly, 2) We here at ‘corePHP’ value free and open source software (FOSS) developers who dedicate their time in developing extensions that all in the (huge) Joomla community can use for free, and for the betterment of all.
We’d like to recognize what we feel are the best free Joomla extensions that make it on a vast majority of Joomla-powered websites, in this homage to the creators, and their work!
Currently, the Joomla Extension Directory (JED) has close to 9,000 extensions, and it can seem a little daunting as to which ones you might need from all those that are listed. Each site has different requirements that need different extensions. However, with thousands of Joomla extensions, it’s fascinating to learn that there are just a brilliant few that seem to be installed on almost every site, both personal and professional!
Without further ado, here is ‘corePHP’s “Top Five Free Joomla Extensions for Beginners” list:
(By the way, if you have suggestions, you agree or disagree, your comments are welcome below.)
Having a good data backup strategy in probably the most critical process of website development. All too many times, something happens and we find out that the client only has a backup from a year or two ago. Essentially, everything is lost, and of course, fixing or rebuilding the site costs more and takes longer. In some cases, the site is often in essence, unrecoverable and would have to be built from scratch.
This is why Akeeba Backup is an essential free Joomla extension that should be installed on nearly every Joomla website. Using Akeeba, you can backup your entire site and database with one click to one of multiple archive format choices (.jpa, .zip, etc…) and send the backup to the cloud (or download to your computer). Using Akeeba it’s also possible and very easy to migrate, move or duplicate your site to another host or development environment.
Akeeba offers both a free and paid version of the extension. The free version gives you everything you need to make manual backups of your site, but if you would like to automate the backup process, then opt for the paid version so you can schedule your backups on a daily, weekly, monthly and yearly rotation.
Akeeba Backup has won three J.O.S.C.A.R. awards and has received much praise on the Joomla Extension Directory
When it comes to content manipulation, there’s no close second to the JCE Editor. The JCE Editor offers a wide range of Office-like functionality and is the most robust and powerful visual editor for Joomla! With a layout that’s similar to popular text editing applications, novice users will quickly adjust to editing content right within the Joomla control panel.
One of JCE’s most convenient features is the ability to link to categories, weblinks (if installed) and other articles right from within the linking popup. On a similar note, the image editor makes adding, deleting and adjusting your in content images a breeze. For those who do have coding knowledge, JCE offers an advanced code editor with syntax highlighting and advanced style and element attribution for easy code editing. JCE makes it to nearly every site where non-technical people are tasked with content creation and management as JCE makes it so easy to do.
JCE Editor is a free Joomla extension, but offers a subscription for add-in plugins you definitely will want to take a look at that add additional functionality to the image, file and media managers.
NoNumber Modules Anywhere
NoNumber offers a really awesome extension that allows you to add modules (usually found in the sidebars) essentially anywhere, hence the name, Modules Anywhere. Many admins will add modules inside of content articles to house advertisements for instance. The nonumber modules anywhere extension is an essential free Joomla! extension for every site where you need to customize the placement of your modules in nonstandard places on your site.
NoNumber Modules Anywhere comes in both a free and paid version, with additional customizability added to the paid version.
Komento (Commenting System)
Those who use Joomla! for blogging will love the customizability of Komento, a Joomla! native commenting system. Using Komento, you can offer interaction with your site visitors by adding comments for either a select number of categories on your site, or all of them if you wish. Optionally, you can define what readers can and can’t do through a built in access control system. The commenter’s avatar can be pulled in from Gravatar or a number of other social sources.
Komento also has BBCode & Emoticons built in, Schema Tags and allows (if you wish) your users to add attachments to their comments (files, images, etc…). Komento is free to download, but also offers a paid version which adds more features and removes the copyright linkback.
JEvents (Joomla Calendar and Events Component)
Many times, you might want to have an event calendar on your Joomla! site where you have to list upcoming events in either listing or calendar format. Consider JEvents as it is a complete Joomla! Event Calendar solution. JEvents offers you a way to list your one-off events and create repeating patterns. You can even offer a feed for your latest events. JEvents offers multiple design layouts, iCal import/exports, event categories and more!
JEvents is a free extension, but you can add more functionality by adding plugins by way of a paid subscription.
WOAH! We’re reached the end of the five free Joomla Extensions for Beginners already? That was almost too fast! Here’s what we’re going to do…
I’ll give you a bonus by adding one more listing, but this one is a little different:
myJoomla.com (Site Security)
myJoomla.com is an award winning Joomla! subscription based service – where your first audit is free. While myJoomla.com isn’t a Joomla! extension it still bears a high mention in the name of site security. The only relationship to free extensions as this blog post is about is that you have to install the provided connector that links your site to use the best Joomla! site security solution available, and this is done through the extension installer, the same way the other extensions listed here are installed.
Lets face it, hackers are everywhere, and your site, no matter how secure you think it might be is still vulnerable if it’s accessible from the internet. myJoomla.com will audit your site by looking at the source code from within the site itself. This is a Joomla specific audit, which separates this service apart from others. myJoomla.com gives you very specific and detailed information and advice that’s unique to your site and it’s configuration.
By doing this, you will get important indicators on what you need to know about and what you can do. This process gives you a complete list of actions, and reveals things about your site that you might not have known previously, but should be aware of. While the first audit is free, you’ll definitely want to look into the subscriptions to ensure ongoing audits to help keep your site safe and hack-free.
myJoomla.com has also won awards on the highest level twice now for best Joomla! Service!