When I built this website earlier this year I used a Joomla template from RocketTheme called “Affinity.” If I remember correctly it was one of RT’s first templates that was designed to be integrated with K2, the “super-component” from JoomlaWorks. JoomlaWorks makes some great extensions, and K2 is one of them.
According to their website, K2 is the “powerful content component for Joomla! with CCK-like features…[and it] provides an out-of-the box integrated solution featuring rich content forms for items (think of Joomla! articles with additional fields for article images, videos, image galleries and attachments), nested-level categories, tags, comments, a system to extend the item base form with additional fields (similar to CCK for those acquainted with Drupal), a powerful plugin API to extend item, category and user forms, ACL, frontend editing, sub-templates and a lot more!”
K2, WordPress and blogging
I’m convinced I haven’t begun to tap into the possible uses for K2, but the primary reason I started using it was to “power” this blog. At the time WordPress wasn’t a viable option because the customization necessary to make a WordPress theme match the Affinity template was far beyond my capabilities. I was a little disappointed that I wouldn’t be able to use WordPress since I’ve been blogging on a couple blogs at WordPress.com since 2008, and several hundred posts and a hundred thousand (or so) words later I’ve become rather familiar with WordPress as a blogging platform.
But like I said earlier, it really wasn’t an option at the time so I gave K2 an honest try and managed to produce sixteen blog posts on various topics. To its credit, K2 is light-years ahead of using a bare-bones Joomla blog, but in my opinion it simply can’t match WordPress for features and blogger usability.
RocketTheme’s big announcement
On October 7, 2009, RocketTheme announced that they were going to start designing themes for WordPress to match, more or less, their Joomla templates, and the wheels in my head started turning! They started releasing the new themes on October 15 but it wasn’t until Tuesday, December 15 that I really sat up and took notice. There, all shiny and new on their website, was the Affinity WordPress theme just begging to be integrated into this website, and by the following weekend, it was.
Not entirely painless
Admittedly, the switch took more than a few hours, and it had a few bumps and twists along the way, but I’m convinced that it was worth it. The WordPress files (CSS, PHP, HTML and more), images, plugins, and themes make their home in a subdirectory of the Joomla deployment called “blog,” and there is a completely separate database on the server that contains the posts, the content of the posts, and other data. In reality the WordPress blog is a completely separate website that lives “inside” the Joomla website. Sort of.
Arguably I could have built the entire website using WordPress with the blog fully integrated, but I’m of the opinion that for purposes other than blogging Joomla is still the better choice for powering a full-featured website.
Migrating the posts
Fortunately I had only written sixteen posts so migrating the content over to WordPress didn’t take too terribly long. If this had been a few months further down the road perhaps I would have thought a little longer about making the move.
What to do about permalinks?
Another potential issue is that WordPress forms its permalinks differently than K2 and Joomla, and you can choose several options for configuring those permalinks. The issue lies in the fact that Google (and other search engines, I suppose) have indexed and cached the K2 versions of my posts. I thought about setting up redirects for those existing URLs but in the end I decided to just let them fade away.
A system for comments
On the K2 blog I had been using Disqus (pronounced “discuss”) for my comment system, and though the number of comments were few, I was planning for future growth. Disqus has some great features and potential, but when I installed the Disqus plugin for WordPress the blog was having issues loading on Internet Explorer. A quick Google search showed that the problem was not isolated to my set-up, so I opted to go with the “stock” comment system that is built-in to WordPress. There are many plugins available that can extend the capabilities of the WordPress comment system, and I’m planning to write about some of those in the near future as I test them out here.
Blogging into the future
This post is my first one written entirely using the WordPress dashboard, and I’ve got to admit that it is much more enjoyable than writing it in K2/Joomla would have been.
Here’s one reason: previewing a post before publishing. In WordPress when you click on the Preview button in the top right corner of the dashboard it opens a new browser tab (or window) with the post in your blog – looking exactly like it’s going to look when it’s published. Unless I’m mistaken and never saw the “real” post preview option, previewing a post in K2/Joomla results in a small pop-up window that in reality looks nothing like what your post is going to look like once it’s published. My work-around for this was to write the posts on the mirror-copy of my website that I keep on my local machine, and when I was satisfied with the results I’d copy and paste the post contents to my “live” site. Not totally unusable, but definitely not optimal either.
Having said all that, I have a number of future blog posts “simmering” on the back burner that I’ll be moving to the front before too long.