I thought I’d put together a list of Joomla components and modules that I use on a regular basis or that I’ve had good experiences with. I’m not sponsored by any of these sites, nor have they asked me to post a review, this is just my own personal findings. I hope they help.
For me, the generic way to put banners on a site, is with a little bit of cross-fading. To that effect, the Simple Image Rotator is perfect for this. Not only does it have a small filesize, it can also be incorporated into the existing Joomla banner component to rotate these from the off. It’s also free.
For more complex, article/image rotation I’m fond of Frontpage slideshow (same people as above). This comes with 5 or so templates, with nice rotation effects and the ability to put article content into the rotating banner. Styling is simple enough through the CSS and it’s easy to link to articles, menu items, or components. You have to pay for this one, but you do get what you pay for.
Sitemaps and Analytics
For every site I build I pop Xmap this in the footer. Not only does it pop a simple HTML sitemap on your site (dynamically driven) but also a Google XML sitemap, which you can then publish in your Google Webmaster tools. Styling is easy and you can turn off the author signature. In addition, it comes with extensions for lots of different components to allow you to get your Virtuemart products, SOBI items and many more bits of content on the site and into Google.
For Google Analytics I just pop the code in my template – I don’t bother using a module. There are tons out there. Just make sure you get one with the latest Google tracking code in it.
Joomla CCK (Content Construction Kit)
For a long time, Drupal had a big advantage over Joomla in that if you wanted to display a product catalog, or run a blog, or even just show some custom fields in Joomla, you really had to hack around. Drupal had the CCK, which allowed you to define your data and create pretty much any content you needed. With the advent of J1.5, several teams have come up with equivalents, but the best I’ve used so far is K2. The user interface fits well within Joomla (unlike SOBI) and is a very natural extension. You can import your existing Joomla articles with one click. You can create many types of content: Dropdown lists, text, radio buttons etc and it also allows nested categories. Templating uses the simple Joomla template override method.
It’ll be interesting to see how Joomla 1.6 changes K2, but in the mean time, it’s a no-brainer.
The Joomla 1.5 menu system is pretty decent, but sometimes, when you’re doing some hairy CSS, you need some extra control and that’s where Extended Menu. It’s been around since J1.0 and it’s still as reliable as ever. If you need some CSS styling on your Joomla menu, it’s free and perfect for what you need.
It’s been Joomfish as long as I can remember. It now comes with a really good set of plugins to allow decent URL rewriting to subdomains etc which is good if you’re struggling with geo-location and Google. The language packs are free to download (as is Joomfish itself). Perfect.
Sometimes you want to let people book attendance at an event (maybe even pay for it). Appointment Booking Pro allows you to setup a calendar with bookable resources. You can choose if people need to pay, how much and at what point they can book. You get a nice (if slightly poorly HTML-ed) calendar, which is AJAX driven and you can get people to pay with Paypal or Clickatell. It’s a paid for component, but when you think how long it would take to build, it’s a steal!