Author: Ric Shreves
Publisher: Wiley, 2010
Aimed at: Joomla novices
Cons: very little real information
Reviewed by: ian Elliot
A big encyclopedia of Joomla! - but do you need it?
This is a promising book if you want to find out how to use the Joomla! CMS (content management system) - mainly because it has a colourful cover and is very thick. Once you get inside the presentation is slow, steady and clear with a scattering of boxes to add information to the basic text. It starts off from what Joomla is, through installation, to using and even customising it.
It is undeniably comprehensive in that it more or less goes through each of the Joomla menu options and explains each one. The big problem is that the explanations are mostly vacuous and add nothing to your understanding.
The best way to illustrate this is via a small and fairly typical example. In the section that explains some of the installation options there is a screen dump showing the FTP configuration options. The first is described and "explained" as:
Enable FTP file system layer: The default setting is No. If you want to use this feature set it to Yes.
There is no further guidance on the page as to what the FTP file system is for, where it operates, what sort of problems it solves and why you might want to use it rather than a separate FTP client/file manager.
This is typical of the level of explanation which rarely rises above the obvious or what you can discover by reading the options or the on screen tooltips that appear while using Joomla.
It might be that the format of the book has constrained the author to this approach. Later in the book where customising templates and installing and using extras such as VirtueMart and JomSocial you feel that the author has something to say but again the information is swamped by the need to decorate the page with endless screen dumps and tables of options.
The sections on security and site maintenance are good which reinforces the feeling that the book is getting better the more it progresses. However, the sections on customising templates and other advanced topics would have benefited from being given more space and as such they can't really be recommended to a reader interested in this aspect of using Joomla.
If you need a book that gives you access to information about Joomla that is mostly obvious when you are sitting in front of the real thing then this "bible" might have some use. If you are looking to understand Joomla and perhaps even use it in clever or creative ways then you need another book.