You're a Joomla! Web developer. Maybe you work as a freelancer, consultant, in a small agency, or a larger company. If you're reading this blog, you're probably also familiar with Rockettheme and its products - like templates and extensions - that can help you build professional websites for your clients.
The following is a guest post written by James Morrell and revised by Sebastien Heraud & Sebastien Lapoux from the Octopoos team. Octopoos is a France-based Web development agency and the developers behind SEBLOD. Find out more at www.octopoos.com.
Previous articles on this blog have looked at topics like presenting mockups to clients, finding the right template, online invoicing for web developers, and building your reputation as a web developer.
All of these resources are aimed at helping you improve your business practices and ultimately your success as a developer.
Today I'd like to introduce you to some software that can help take your business to the next level (it certainly helped me and my web design business), by expanding the functionality you're able to deliver to your clients.
In essence, SEBLOD allows you to easily expand the functionality you're able to build into a Joomla! website. It makes creating features like directories (think real estate listing websites, notice boards, intranets, etc.), multi-criteria & advanced search capabilities, powerful forms (with conditional states, computation rules, ...), inline-place editing & frontend content managers, custom-built applications - and more - possible without an in-depth knowledge of PHP or SQL.
From personal experience, SEBLOD enabled me (not a web developer by training) to go from building standard, static, brochure-style websites in Joomla! to building dynamic, full-featured websites for my clients.
If you understand this concept, then you're going to understand the logic that underpins SEBLOD. It's worth reading because if you're like me, once you 'get it' your mind will go wild with what's possible with SEBLOD.
Forms and Content is a concept you're already familiar with if you use Joomla!. You log in to the administrator section, go to the Article Manager, and create a new article. What you get then is a form that allows you to store content in a set structure in your database. The structure is basically a Title, some Body Text, a Category (for grouping articles), some Tags, an Image, and some Meta-data.
While this structured content is useful for basic web pages, it's a little limiting when you want to take more control over what you're storing in the database and how it's being stored.
Let's take the "Real Estate Listing" example I mentioned earlier. Using the standard Joomla article, you would probably put the address of my listings in the title field, and then all of the other information in the Body Text field like the number of bedrooms, bathrooms, garage spaces, when the listing was available, whether it is a rental or for sale, the price, and so on. While you might be able to do some formatting within the Body Text field with my WYSIWYG editor to make this information look attractive, you're severely limited when it comes to filtering and performing customised searches on the content.
SEBLOD allows you to add custom fields to the standard Joomla! Article 'Content Type' - or create an entirely new type of content - to suit your needs. So you can have individual fields all of that information I listed before, which is then store separately in the database. The major benefit of this is that you're now able to build custom searches and dynamic lists of your content based on this information.
For a Real Estate Listing site, it's easy to see the benefits. You can let your users define their price range, search particular cities or suburbs, search for their ideal number of bedrooms and bathrooms, and so on. Once they perform their search, a list of the content that is relevant to them is returned.
Live examples! check out some of these websites for examples of this functionality in action:
Among many other uses, the concept of being able to build customised Content Types, Search Forms and dynamic Lists & View Pages allows you to essentially create your own Content Managers (& Forms) with it's own custom interface on Joomla! Back-end (Administration) and/or Joomla! frontend.
Speaking from personal experience again, I don't like giving clients access to the Joomla! back-end, because the Joomla! back-end has many areas where most of my clients don't need to go. Instead, they need a simple interface that lets them manage existing content, and add new content as they need.
Using Joomla's User Access Levels and SEBLOD's custom frontend forms, you're able to build an administrator interface specifically designed to make content administration easy for your clients, and remove any unnecessary clutter that may lead to confusion that exists in the Joomla! back-end. It's a level of simplicity that clients of mine, and others, have appreciated!
See how easy it is! this video takes you through the steps to create a frontend content manager.
This applies not only to content (Articles, Categories or Custom ones) but also with any other kind of object, such as Users... to give you the ability to build your own User Manager on the frontend of your website . Please note that native Joomla ACLs (Permissions and Viewing Access Levels) are supported.
The final feature that's specifically relevant to web developers looking to take their business to the next level is the concept of re-usable applications within SEBLOD.
This is an incredibly big time saver for regularly-used features of sites like:
By packaging your creations using SEBLOD, you're able to rapidly roll out standard functionality on a new build, and then customise it as needed.
I've only just been able to scratch the surface with the basics of what's possible with SEBLOD in this post.
For me personally, it was a tremendous advantage to my business to learn this Joomla! component, and while there's a lot to learn at first, there's lots of great learning materials available to help you get started.
SEBLOD helped me to expand my business capabilities and attract much bigger and more interesting website projects. If you try it and take the time to learn, I'm confident it can do the same for you too.