A couple weeks ago, I found on my doorstep Hagen Graf's book, Building Websites with Joomla! 1.5 Beta 1. The book was sent to me by the book's publisher, Packt Publishing, in hopes that I would review the book on the Joomla! content management system here at CMSReport.com. While I do not promise to review every book or Internet link that comes my way, I always appreciate the opportunity to do such reviews. In this case, I was eager to review the book since I have lost track of the new features introduced in version 1.5 since Joomla! 1.0 first arrived in 2005.
There was a time when I thought technical reference books would be a thing of the past. Why would anyone purchase a book when all you needed to do was go to your favorite Internet search engine and after a few clicks of the mouse find your answer? Lately though, I've found that the Internet is still no match for that thing we all call a book.
The problem with the Internet isn't that there is not enough information on the Internet but that at times there is too much information. For example, if you type in joomla components at Google.com you'll find around 2.17 million results. Joomla 1.5 Beta attempts to deliver information for the same keywords in less than 70 pages (Chapter 5 - "Components and Extensions"). Overall, the author does a good job in giving the reader the information he or she needs for developing a website with Joomla within the book's 360 pages.
The author begins his Joomla! book with the customary introduction of "this is Joomla" along with the content management system's roadmap for the past, present, and future. For an added touch, the first chapter ends with images of websites currently running on Joomla! As odd as this may sound, the snapshots of the sites were comforting to see because it helped me identify with examples of quality sites that can be built with the Joomla! CMS. I like to know where I'm going in a project and this book does a good job showing the reader from the start what type of website they will be building with Joomla!. Sometimes these type of figures and images are stuck in the back of the book as if some afterthought for filling up space. Visuals are important when building sites for the Web and this book does a nice job associating the right image or figure with the text in hand.
The first half of the book is directed toward the site administrator or user of Joomla!. The first five chapters in the book discusses the installation of the application, a review of Joomla's core features, modifying your site through configuration via the admin pages, and finally the use of components and extensions. The second half of the book is aimed at those novices or intermediate developers/designers willing to get their hands a little dirty with code. Topics in the second half of the book discuss writing your own Joomla! templates (theming), components, modules, and plug-ins. The book ends with a discussion on site design as well as offering some free templates designed by some folks in the Joomla! community.
Overall, I recommend this book for anyone considering using Joomla! to develop a sight for the first time or continue to struggle grasping all that Joomla! has to offer. Before I was willing to recommend someone buying this book, I had concerns with the version of Joomla! in the book's title, Joomla! 1.5 Beta 1. During the month of May 2007, Joomla 1.5 Beta 2 was released which causes you to wonder whether this book is already outdated. I think not. Wisely, the publisher is offering a free eBook upgrade to those that buy the book once a final Joomla 1.5 book is released.
Final Version Upgrade Offer
If you buy this book now from Packtpub.com, we will send you free eBook versions of all future versions of this title up to and including the final 1.5 release. Joomla! 1.5 Beta 1 was officially released on October 12, 2006. This book covers Beta 1. We currently expect to update the book for either the final release or another beta in mid 2007.
Even if a free book upgrade wasn't being offered readers of the book should still be at ease. Most of the changes between the Joomla! 1.5 betas and the final release are likely to be more focused on bugs in the code and less on significant new features (though it's been known to happen). Whether you purchase this book as a "beta' or a "final release" you should have no regrets in purchasing the book.