Author: Bintu Harwani
Publisher: Friends Of Ed, 2009
Aimed at: Beginners to Joomla
Pros: Helpful info for setting Joomla up
Cons: Only very basic and standard information
Reviewed by: Mike James
Joomla is an easy-to-use open source CMS - and its two big weaknesses are that it can be difficult to install and its documentation is poor.
The difficulty in installing it is mostly a consequence of the fact that it needs a working web server, PHP and MySQL to function and this come in lots of different flavours. In most cases there is also the matter of dealing with a hosting company which probably has its own ideas on how to make Joomla easier to install.
The documentation problem is standard for an open source project, but there is a good community which will answer questions on how to install and run Joomla.
This book starts off reasonably enough with lots of info on setting up Joomla and at first I thought that this was all going to be useful stuff. However, after a promising start it quickly degenerates into screen dump after screen dump of the obvious with very little insight into how anything works.
It certainly never strays from the sample data and very basic things that you can do by clicking menu options. It doesn't discuss possible ways of organising your site or what the limitations of Joomla might be. It most certainly doesn't discuss anything that might involve editing HTML, CSS or creating a template - all of which are usually within the average Joomla user's skill set. More to the point if you are going to be frightened by HTML, say, then you probably aren't going to manage to install Joomla without help.
This book really is just a tour of the Joomla menu options and if this is what you are looking then it fulfills its ambition. Personally I'd rather have a book that adds some value such as Joomla 1.5: a user's guide but there might be readers who really want the very very basics.