Adventures in Joomla: Tools I Love
Stock & Standard Tools I Use in Joomla! CMS
I write often about the "stock & standard" post-installation tools I love to use (rhel, ubuntu, cloud administration, virtualization, etc.), but realized I've never really posted one for Joomla! content management systems. Without belaboring the advantage points, I will leave you to your own devices to explore and decide what works for you, but for all of my end-client website builds, we always strategically install the following components to address and manage backup & restore, security, search engine optimization, single sign-on and social sharing:
BACKUP & RESTORE
I've used Akeeba Backup for years, and it has never failed me in performing backups and, more importantly, restorations. This is an absolute must-have for any Joomla! installation.
Another product from Akeeba, Admin Tools Pro is the veritable swiss-army knife of Joomla! components as it has features and functionality for security, seo, url management, database management and just about anything else you can think of. I use it first and foremost for its security features, but have had occassion where the database management tools and url redirection functions have performed quite nicely. Frankly, this too is a must-have for any Joomal! installation.
If you don't employ SSL, then... well, you should (if not globally, then at least in targeted areas such as login pages, contact forms, etc.). Joomla! is a little quirky with its ssl implementation (basically, it's all or nothing); Yireo's SSL Redirect plugin works wonders in controlling ssl on your site.
Core Joomla! content has improved dramatically, so much so that at times, I ponder not wrestling with K2 anymore at all. That being said, K2 is still a highly flexible component for content creation; what I'd really like to see is the v3 of K2 actually come to fruition - it has long been in need of an overhaul, but at the time of this writing we still cannot muster any response from the K2 development team as to when we might see a stable, production ready K2 v3. Whenever that is, I will certainly be using it!
If you are creating decent amounts of content (which of course, you should be), the JCE wysiwyg is a can-do editor that really does allow your creativity to keep aflow. You will need to be sure and utilize its add-on packages to achieve all it is capable of, but it is quite capable regardless.
Great content means little if it is being missed by search engines from poor or improperly designed urls, metas, etc. Once you've accustomed yourself to configuring sh404sef and making use of its url, title and metas, and 404 manager you can really fine-tune your content ready for search engine crawls. sh404sef also has a bevy of security features, but I typically default to those provided by Akeeba's Admin Tools and use sh404sef strictly for search engine optimization purposes. It works exceedingly well.
I still use Xmap on low-traffic, set-and-forget sites that don't create a lot of content, but boy if you really want to manhandle your sitemaps, robots.txt and everything else related to how Googlebot, Bing, Yandex, etc. show up and crawl your site's content? JSitemap Pro is the answer. I've used this component in just about every configuration possible to directly address every situation imaginable as it relates to search engines; fantastic component!
I started out using JFBConnect some years ago for single sign-on, and still do. But JFBConnect is also our stock and standard application for controlling all matters related to social network integration. Not only is this by far the most robust social sharing tool for Joomla!, it continues to evolve with more and better functionality for managing all of your social media related content. Control how all of your social media content is displayed and shared; JFBConnect blows every other social integration tool for Joomla! completely out of the water. Super cool tool!
CONTENT DELIVERY NETWORK
This really belongs up under the SECURITY heading, but Cloudflare is a great CDN serving up your content swiftly, just like the search engines like it. Kudos to Cloudflare as well for being the first to globally offer all of their customers Free SSL certificates, helping to make the web a more secure place and experience for everyone.
Have a few subdomains or several mains that you oversee? Watchful.li makes light of management by bringing everything you need to oversee your websites into one dashboard for one-click operations. Never miss critical updates, backups or security issues for your sites again!
WHAT TOOLS DO YOU USE AS "STOCK & STANDARD" FOR JOOMLA! CMS?!