Sure, there are a few things in life where completely original work is definitely the best route (use your imagination…). But, if we had to recreate the wheel every time we needed to do something, we’d all still be hunched over in caves. So, if you’re developing in Joomla, do yourself a favor and get really familiar with these five must-have extensions:
1. Akeeba Backup
In my opinion, Akeeba Backup is the most important, and useful, of all the non-default Joomla extensions. This nifty tool allows you to quickly create a zip file containing your entire site.
You should always, always, always keep a backup of your site data (preferably multiple backups on different servers) and Akeeba Backup lets you do this with one click of the mouse. Akeeba also gives you the ability to set backup configurations and create backup profiles. These configurations as profiles let you pick and choose which parts of the site you’d like to backup and can be saved for later ease of use. You also have the ability to view any past backup files you have created in case you’ve managed to screw something up in the interim (as we all have).
Of course no backup tool would be complete without the ability to easily re-instantiate the backup file. As you might have guessed, Akeeba provides this functionality in the form of their streamlined Kickstart process.
You can download Akeeba Backup and the Kickstart process for free at https://www.akeebabackup.com/
Once you have your site up and running, and have installed Akeeba Backup to ensure you won’t lose everything should you spill coffee all over your computer, your next step should be to grab the latest version of the ProFiles file manager.
This free extension is the highest rated, simplest to use file manager I have been able to find on the market. ProFiles gives you ease of access to the entire file system of your site, allowing you to create, delete, zip, download and upload files as well as change permissions without having to leave the admin panel. Admittedly the editor could use some work, but then again who uses an online editor when we all have our favorite one all decked out on the next monitor over?
You can pick up ProFiles at http://extensions.joomla.org/extension/profiles
In my opinion creating web forms has always been a pretty tedious task, quite the pain in the butt. Enter BreezingForms.
Breezing forms allows you to quickly create and manage custom web forms. When creating a form you have the ability to add pretty much any field you can imagine, complete with validation from BreezingForms’ extensive validation library. For the more adventurous, Breezing forms also gives you the ability to write your own custom validations.
With email notification, full captcha support and the ability to view and edit submitted forms, BreezingForms is an extension you should not pass on when setting up your Joomla site.
You can find BreezingForms on the Joomla extensions marketplace: http://extensions.joomla.org/extensions/extension/contacts-and-feedback/forms/breezingforms
Pretty sweet, go pick it up: http://extensions.joomla.org/extensions/extension/core-enhancements/coding-a-scripts-integration/sourcerer
At one point or another you will have to set up redirects for your site. It’s just a fact of life. Article URLs change and pages are occasionally not found. This is where ReDJ, the small but powerful redirect extension, shines.
ReDJ allows you set up basic redirects within your site as well as 404 pages. You can set the “from” and “to” URLs as well as what redirect code you’d like it to use. There are also options for case sensitivity, decoded URLs, yada, yada, yada.
“But Aaron,” you’re thinking, “that’s the whole point of any redirect extension. Why is this one so great?” Well, I have two words for you, skeptical developer: Regular Expressions. ReDJ lets you pattern match URLs with regular expressions. Let’s say you’ve changed the menu structure of your Blog pages and now all the links you’ve emailed to your users are broken. URL Pattern matching with ReDJ can make this a 5-10 minute change instead of a day-long angry user meltdown.
Now that I’ve shared my favorites with you, be cool and leave anything you think I might be missing out on in the comments.