joomla administration screenshot

Joomla Administrator

I've blogged before about the the forgotten interface and joomla usability improvements and recommended two extensions to improve the joomla admin experience, CQI for the control panel and Advanced Administrator Menu to reorganise the menus.

Today I'd like to introduce two other "improvements" to the Joomla Administrator interface.

Together they will help you improve accessibility, usability, performance and generally make your life easier.

Accessible administration template

Since the beginning of joomla there has been an aim to improve the accessibility of joomla the German term "Barrierefreies - Free of Barriers" is a much clearer explanation than accessibility)

While we will incorporate as many accessibility "features" in the back-end as possible, the technical changes required to reach WCAG compliance at this point would involve an extensive re-write of the code. It would be counter-productive to do this now, as a such a re-write is planned for the 2.x series.

The back-end or administration area of a Joomla driven site is not a public area. Unless your administrators have accessibility requirements themselves, the reduced compliance on the back-end will not impact your organisation/site accessibility levels.

This Accessibility Statement was written almost before the first release of Joomla 1.0 and it's not really been looked at since.

Currently one of the biggest stumbling blocks is that the administration menu requires javascript which is often disabled on the computers of users using assistive technologies.

Last week Stian Didriksen (aka stipsan) released a replacement administrator template that is identical to the existing Khepri template in every way except that it does not use or require javascript to be enabled.

I installed it immediately on the web sites of ReformJudaism.org.uk as they have made a commitment "to providing a website that is accessible to the widest possible audience, regardless of technology or ability" and this should apply equally to their staff and site visitors. To provide the best test for this replacement template I did not tell them that I was changing the template and yet no one has contacted me to report any weirdness, difficulties, changes etc so it clearly is a seamless replacement.

Managing Modules

When I build a site I typically do not apply any modules to the site until the end. This is because I am in the habit of designing a site into sections with different modules in each section, so if I have seven modules in each section I have to apply them to each item in that section. That's not an issue but the problem occurs when I add another item to the section as I need to repeat the assign modules process again for each module which is a time consuming pain and a process often forgotten. So to save me time in the long run I leave it to the end of the site building process to add the modules.

  1. Sometimes I want to apply a module to all pages except one specific page and I face the same problem again of having to assign the module again to all new sections of the site.
  2. Sometimes I want to have a module only visible on certain dates just like I can with content and this is just not possible without some jiggery pokery
  3. Sometimes I have a component that really doesn't work nicely with a specific module and I need to remember to disable that module on each page that the component loads
  4. Sometimes I want to restrict a module to a specific userlevel and not to the usual joomla ACL hierarchy

By default the joomla module manager will only let me assign a module to pages based solely on the menu link but now this has all changed.

Peter van Westen from NoNumber.nl is a man after my own heart.

Quietly over the last few months he has been releasing several "administrator" enhancements but I filed most of them in the "nice to have" but not essential category but the latest one has moved into my essential install category.

Advanced Module Manager

I have been beta testing a new version of this which is scheduled for release within the next 24 hours. This is a system plugin that dynamically modifies the standard joomla module manager to give you extra options and functionalities to control your modules.

You can limit your modules to/by

  1. Date
  2. Menu Item
  3. Sections / Categories
  4. Articles
  5. User Group Levels
  6. Components
  7. Languages
  8. Templates

It also has a nice option in the Joomla menu manager to display the modules active for that menu item and it even allows you to select one of these modules in a modal window and edit its settings.

[update] Another feature that I missed at first is the ability to hide a module if it is empty. I've come across this issue many times on sites that use a split menu where my third level module will always display the base module styling even if for that page there are no thrid level menu items, not any more!

Particular credit should go to Peter for not only thinking about improving Joomla Usability and providing this extension but also for listening to his users. No sooner has a user tweeted "Wouldn't it be good if..." than Peter replies "Yes, and now you can".

The reality is that until you install Advanced Module Manager you cannot truly appreciate the benefits to you. Long time joomla users are used to its quirks and often forget its oddities but newcomers always ask me why can't I....

Now I just tell them you can.

 

NOTE I have not mentioned AdminPraise the excellent replacement admin interface from JoomlaPraise. Whilst I applaud the design and concepts that this introduces I have my reservations about it as the changes to the interface are so radical that all existing joomla documentation is rendered useless and I have found it to be very dependant on screen resolution. I often have clients working on some very odd and low resolutions and when I set up AdminPraise correctly for one resolution it is unusable at another.

The web was meant to be read, not squished.
This isn't the way to test a responsive design.