A while ago I was sent a complimentary review copy of “Beginning Joomla! (Second Edition)” by Dan Rahmel and published by Apress.
In a clear non-patronising and concise manner the author explains to the reader just what Joomla is (a content management system), how to install, add content, administer, design templates and write extensions for it. He touches on SEO and covers the aspects of both deploying Joomla on Windows, Linux and Mac.
Done in a gentle manner with graceful explanations along the way, he explains everything in a clear manner: how to troubleshoot not being able to access the web or database servers and even mentioning the password system differs from version 4 to version 5 of mysql, for example.
There are a few points in the book that startled me however; Rahmel informs the reader in chapter three that if XAMPP is used as a means of installing the base requirements then certain security concerns need to be addressed. In chapter two he states PHP 4.3.10 as the lowest version required – I’m surprised that a later version of PHP 4 wasn’t recommended, even though 4.3.10 may be the lowest required version – version
4.4.10 4.4.9 for example which is the very last version of PHP to ever be released. I hope this is just a typo that hadn’t been caught in time.
If it was not, then I’d have to express a certain level of professional disappointment; the security enhancements and bug fixes in PHP 4.4.10 should definitely have been enumerated. While it is true to say that most installs of Joomla are into shared hosting environments where such changes can not be implemented, I also would have expected the author to have mentioned that Apache, and by implication Joomla, performs better when configuration directives are specified in the httpd.conf files rather than .htaccess files which must first be scanned for at a directory-by-directory level.
I had been looking forward to reading the chapter on creating extensions (chapter thirteen) but was rather disappointed. I had expected Rahmel to go into much more depth, especially as the blurb on the back of the book mentions how he has coded other solutions from scratch in PHP and ASP, so surely there would be hard-learned tips and some advice that he could share? Instead he hardly mentions the Joomla API nor does he provide a reference or link to where further information on the subject could be found.
I would like to say that the second edition of “Beginning Joomla!” is well rounded but the lack of detail on creating extensions and the differing levels of detail regarding security and performance tips makes me shy from saying that.
Also, I do wish that there was a list of recommended reading and a glossary in the book too – it is invaluable to have a “cheat sheet” of what different terms mean and also to know what other bodies of work are available to help you learn more.
To summarise – “Beginning Jooma! Secong Edition” is a well-written book aimed at (surprise) people new to using Joomla – it just could be better and the section on developing plugins or components should simply be dropped as it is not adequate and probably could have an entire book devoted to the subject.