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May 2012

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Getting Your Joomla Website to Work on Mobile Devices

by Glen Emerson Morris
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One of the nice things about using a content management system like Joomla as the basis for your Website is the support available. Any problem you have is likely to be faced by other Joomla users, and all it takes is one person with a solution to fix everyone's problem. These days one of the biggest problems any business with a Website faces is how to make your Website work on mobile device screens. Since the average Website was developed before the emergence of the mobile device computer the default layout is for a desktop computer whose display characteristics can best be described as large and landscape..

These days the market has moved to mobile devices and the traditional landscape layout just doesn't work anymore. The new characteristics are best described as small to large, and portrait and landscape. Fortunately, Joomla standardized on a width that ports to iPads pretty well, but when you get to the iPhone and other smart phones, layout becomes an issue.

A company wanting to port a Joomla based Website to multiple mobile devices has essentially four choices:
  • Program a new template in PHP
  • Use a ready made free or commercial template
  • Pay someone else to do it for you
  • Buy tools that do part of the work for you
Which solution is right for you depends on several factors, including your current budget, the programming resources you have available and the developer of the Joomla template you are using (if any).

Programming issues
Changing the format of a Joomla page template requires some serious programming in PHP, meaning even minor changes can run into hundreds of dollars, even thousands. So, this is not a practical solution for most SMBs. However, if you have someone on the staff who can program PHP this is certainly an option to consider,

Ready Made Mobile Device Templates
The most common solution to making your company's Joomla Website work on mobile devices is to use a free or commercial specifically for mobile devices. Many template packages include one or more mobile device templates, but the quality and feature set varies greatly. Another option is to buy a template specifically designed for mobile devices that can be added to your current Joomla template. A visit to the extensions section returned the following options (in their words):

JoomlArt's free JA Elastica and Puresite templates are designed to be a one template fits all product. Both adapt and transform to fit the screen area of the devices, be it extra wide monitors or be it iPad, iPhone or the Android devices. They only work with Joomla 2. Both also require a design format that somewhat resembles Microsoft's Metro format. Lots of tiles.

Jtouch is a free template for Joomla 1.5 to 2.5. It helps your website have a better view on mobile and touch devices like iPhone, Android, BlackBerry, Windows Phone and also on other smart phones that support HTML5

Mobile Joomla! markets a commercial template for the iPhone under the name Elegance. This template features six color schemes, five page transitions and nine module positions. Based on jQuery Mobile framework, Elegance will support iPhone/iOS, Android, Blackberry and Win Phone 7.

TapTheme is a company that specializes in making mobile device templates for Joomla. They're currently selling templates for the iPhone, iPad and Android for $29 each. TapTheme also makes a Joomla plugin that can detect not only what type platform but browser as well, allowing you to make customized templates for Safari, Chrome, IE, Firefox, webOS, Opera, Android and Blackberry. TapTheme currently supports Joomla versions 1.5. 1.6, 1.7 and 2.5.

Apptha Mobile is an exclusive mobile theme supporting component for Joomla. This joomla mobile app lets you view your joomla website on your mobile phones in seconds. By installing the joomla component, your website becomes compatible to mobile phones such as blackberry, iPhone or Android. Joomlart has released a series of products.

Conversion Services
Another option is is to use a commercial service to do the work for you. Today there are several companies offering to port existing Joomla based Websites to mobile devices. Their methods and prices vary.

Weever is a service that turns your Joomla site into a mobile web app for iPhone, Blackberry Touch, Android and iPad - instantly and affordably. Weever functions and feels just like a native iOS, Android, or Blackberry app.

Mountain Rose Multi Media is offering to convert VirtueMart/Joomla e-commerce sites to an iPad tablet format, which they will then submit to Apple for $149. This will allow your customers to browse your catalog when they're offline.

Mobile Device Support Tools
There are several extensions and plugins for Joomla that can make supporting mobile devices easier These tools take a certain programming knowledge, so they're not for everyone.

Architect for Joomla is a plugin that allows you to mobilize your site in minutes. Every single mobile device is detected and all aspects of your site are tailored to the visiting handset. Sites aren't dumbed down to the lowest common denominator.

Mobile Content Switch
The Mobile Content Switch Plugin is a free Joomla Plugin that will enable you to hide or show content depending if the user is visiting your site from an Apple iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch, and many other mobile devices, or not. Great to render a quicktime em.

Future Developments
Over the next couple of years we can expect that the number of different screen sizes needing to be supported will increase. It will pay to plan ahead. If you're setting up a new Joomla Website, make sure the template you decide on using will support mobile devices. It 's also a good idea to check to developer's history to see how quickly they respond to new devices. This is one case where size matters. The bigger developers will be more likely to be involved in Apple and Android beta programs meaning their templates will be ready when the new devices ship, not days or weeks later.

We hope to assist you in your decision making. As stated earlier, we've relaunched the A&M Review Test Lab and have set up a Joomla sandbox so we can actually review the Joomla extensions and templates using a real environment. In the next few months we'll be porting our Website to a Joomla based system that will also support mobile devices. We invite Joomla developers to submit their products to us for review. In the meantime we invite you to visit to see the latest news in the Joomla content management system.

Glen Emerson Morris was a senior QA Consultant for SAP working on a new product to help automate compliance with the Sarbanes-Oxley law, an attempt to make large corporations at least somewhat accountable to stockholders and the law. He has worked as a technology consultant for Yahoo!, Ariba, WebMD, Inktomi, Adobe, Apple and Radius.

Copyright 1994 - 2011 by Glen Emerson Morris All Rights Reserved ' keywords: Internet advertising, Internet marketing, business, advertising, Internet, marketing. For more advertising and marketing help, news, resources and information visit our Home Page.

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