Joomla Day Boston, 2015
Last weekend we were fortunate to attend Joomla Day Boston, and also joined them as a sponsor.
The turnout, enthusiasm for Joomla and engagement in all the presentations was great to see. Octopoos team member James Morrell gave the following presentation titled "Building with SEBLOD: A better process for you, a better workflow for your clients".
The talk targets those who are currently running web development businesses or working in agencies doing web development, and explores the dramatic improvements that working with SEBLOD offered him in his business.
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As the title of my talk suggests, I’m going to talk today about SEBLOD and the advantages it can offer you, your web development business, and your clients. I’m going to try to only talk for 20 – 25 minutes and then take some questions if you have any.
Predominantly this presentation is split in to 3 sections:
- I’ll first give you a bit of background about me, my business and my experience with Joomla and SEBLOD. I think this context is important because it gives a concrete example of the difference that SEBLOD can make to your business when you use it for website development with Joomla
- I’m then going to give a brief overview of what SEBLOD is, what it does and some of its key features. In this part we’re going to throw around terms like ‘Content Construction Kit’, and ‘Web Application Builder’. Once you’ve got a grip of what those terms mean, I’ll show you a brilliant feature of SEBLOD that lets you package and reuse your SEBLOD creations easily.
- Finally, I’m going to show you what I believe to be the biggest advantage of SEBLOD for your clients – which is the ability to build customised “front end managers” to simplify the content administration process.
WHO AM I?
I’m James Morrell. I'm a member of the Octopoos team. I’m an Australian living in the USA in Burlington, Vermont and I’ve been building Joomla websites since 2008.
Joomla and Web ‘Development’ Background
My first website was built with a free Rockettheme template on Joomla 1.0. I was a university student at the time (studying Public Relations) and I came across this client by accident. I had very little in the way of training in building websites – only what I’d learned in some IT classes in school.
Now, this part is important because it speaks volumes to the power of SEBLOD if you compare where I started to some of my recent website builds.
It’s important because I am not a trained web developer.
Everything I know how to do is what I’ve picked up and learned online along the way and most of it is what SEBLOD enables me to do without having an in-depth knowledge of programming languages like PHP and MySQL.
Back to my story. After I fumbled my way through this first website build, I picked up a few more clients through referral, and started to build my business.
By the time I finished my degree I’d built about 25 Joomla sites, and in early 2012 my first client had come back to me for a rebuild of their site as their business was growing too. Coincidentally this rebuild was the first time I started using SEBLOD.
My first client
To give you some context, I’ll give you a bit of background on this client of mine. They run an agency that books out authors to speak at public events, schools and so on. The biggest downfall in the first site that I built them was the content administration process. Every speaker/author had their own profile page, and was classified as one or many types of speaker/author (poet, illustrator, children’s books, young adult books) and so on. The site had a page for each of these classifications with a list of speakers on each.
On the profile page, authors / speakers had a picture of themselves, a list of their books (with images of the front covers), some bio text, and some testimonials about them.
Since the site was just built with Joomla 1, with no directory component or anything like that, each of the profile pages was managed as an “article”; the book covers were manually inserted on each page, and the testimonials were updated on each page individually too. The “speaker type” list pages were single articles too. Which means that when a new speaker came along, or was removed, each list page that the speaker belonged to needed to be updated manually.
For the rebuild of this site, we used SEBLOD and things got much, much simpler.
Instead of using the standard Joomla article, we created our own new types of content. We had one for books, one for testimonials, and one for speakers. When you added a speaker, you could check the checkboxes for the ‘speaker types’ that the speaker belonged to. The speaker type pages became dynamic list pages that updated themselves automatically by listing the speakers that had that particular type checked. Books were added and linked to speakers by selecting the appropriate speaker from a drop down list. The same with testimonials. These then appeared dynamically on a speakers profile page. We were then also able to add a list page for books, that would dynamically list all of the books that had been added in to the system which has paved the way for the client to introduce an online book store if/when they are ready for that.
We also introduced a custom search feature to the site that allows users to search and filter based on the Speaker type.
SEBLOD IMPROVES YOUR JOOMLA DEVEOPMENT PROCESS
So before we get too far along, let’s take a look at some of those ideas – and work through them as features that SEBLOD offers you:
- The idea of ‘dynamic’ content pages (or list pages). This is native to Joomla, but SEBLOD expands dramatically on it. In native Joomla terms, think of a “dynamic page” like a category blog or category list page. You set the page up to display all the articles that belong to that category. When a new article is added to the category, it automatically appears on that page.
Joomla has added to its dynamic content functionality recently with the new tags component, but remember back in 2012 when this site was build there was no tags component in Joomla, and therefore having the ability to have an article (in this case my speakers profile page) appear dynamically on multiple different list pages at a time was a bit step forward.
I was also able to dynamically display each author / speakers books on their profile page by having a dynamic list module embedded on the profile page. Since there was a relationship between the books and the authors, only the books that related to the author you were viewing would appear.
- The ability to go beyond the standard Joomla! article (title, body text, some meta data) and create entirely new types of content. In my case, this was books, speakers and testimonials – but it can be anything – blogs, news, a real estate listing, gallery images – anything. This functionality is what referred to as a Content Construction Kit. SEBLOD gives you the ability to create new fields and arrange them together so you can store customised content. What you end up getting is a collection of fields in a customised form. You can have these customised forms in the back-end of Joomla, or show them in the FRONT END (which is handy for things like enquiry forms).
- Web application builder. So really when we combine the features of dynamic listing of content, and the ability to construct new types of content, PLUS a ton of other features that SEBLOD provides that gives you full control over how your content is displayed, we get more than just what a standard Content Construction Kit would offer and enter the realm of a full web application builder. You can build new content, create dynamic list pages, you have full control over which information is displayed on your list pages, and on your full “content view” pages, you can create a customised search function based on the fields in your content types.
Who here uses image rotators on their websites? Like pretty much every site?
What about enquiry forms? The same?
What about a blog? What about a news page? What about a user directory?
Before I used SEBLOD, I would build sites that usually needed these things (or at least a combination of them), and I’d use different components / modules / plugins on order to handle the different functionality.
In my opinion, this is a nightmare!
- Staying across keeping multiple extensions up-to-date is cumbersome
- Having to check compatibility of multiple extensions when Joomla is updated is cumbersome
- Some of the good extensions cost money, and using multiple extensions can get expensive
- It’s also a fragmented experience for clients who need to manage their images for their image slideshow in the module manager, their blog content in a component’s own stylised interface in the back end, and then their standard content pages in the article manager.
But let’s think about this.
What is an image rotator? It’s just a type of content (an image) displayed in a list, with some templating that makes them fade in and out.
What is an enquiry form? It’s just a type of content (and enquiry) shown to the user as a form where they can enter information, and then it triggers an email and also gets stored for safe keeping.
What is a blog? It’s just a dynamic list page of a certain type of content (a blog) and when you click on one of the items you can read the whole article.
What is a news page? It’s pretty similar to a blog.
What about user directory? Is a dynamic list page of a type of content (users) probably showing their profile picture and their name, and when you click on them you can see their whole profile.
SEBLOD lets you do all of those things! Without needing to install multiple extensions. AND what’s neat is that if you build one of these ‘apps’ (like a slideshow) on one site. You can package it up with a one-click process and install it on a new site through the Joomla extension manager.
SEBLOD IMPROVES THE CONTENT ADMINISTRATION PROCESS FOR YOUR CLIENTS
In this last little bit of my talk I’m going to tell you about how SEBLOD became a major breakthrough for me and my web development business.
I love Joomla, I find it incredibly intuitive. I tried Wordpress and gave up. I tried Drupal and gave up. Something about Joomla (even Joomla 1 way back in the day, which was nothing compared to what Joomla 3 is now) clicked for me and I was able to teach myself how to use it easily.
But this isn’t true for everyone, and to be honest a lot of my clients struggled to update their sites themselves in the Joomla back end.
Because there’s a lot of stuff in there that a client never really needs to see or do anything with.
Now I know you can play around with user access levels in the back end to hide and display certain things. But with SEBLOD you can go way further than that, and offer your customers a completely simplified, branded content administration experience in the “front end” of their site – removing the need for them to log in to the back end.
Think about what the Joomla Article Manager is for a second:
It’s just a list of a certain type of content (articles) displayed in a list. Templated in a way that the results show in a table.
Same with the Category manager, but instead of articles its categories.
And when you click on an item in the table?
It opens that item in an editable form.
Just like we looked at before, SEBLOD lets create these custom content types, where you enter your information through a form, and lets you list these content items in a list. It’s also got a template to display your information in a table!
So we can build our very own article managers IN THE FRONT END (password protected of course) giving your client the tools they need to edit existing content and add new content, without ever going to the Joomla back end.
One, streamlined administration process for all your client’s content.
Now, when I show my clients that. Their eyes light up because it blows any experience of theirs with another CMS out of the water.