A lynda.com training producer learns Joomla, and practices what we teach

Published by | Thursday, November 4th, 2010

Video shot by lynda.com’s Taymar Pixley and Lucas Deming, and edited by Chris Chan Lee. Starring author Jen Kramer and training producer Samara Iodice.

You may be surprised to discover that behind every lynda.com author is a training producer, like me, who oversees all aspects of course production—from content development, to script review, to graphics creation, to booth and/or live action recording, and eventually publishing in the Online Training Library®. You may be even more surprised to learn that lynda.com training producers are not usually experts in the software for the courses they produce. In fact, often the first experience I have with a certain piece of software is in reviewing the early draft of a course table of contents in preparation for beginning work with an author. That doesn’t mean training producers aren’t extremely knowledgeable about the course content, but where the author must know details of how every individual feature of the software functions, the training producer is looking at something completely different—the overall educational integrity of the course and associated exercise files.

Some training producers are experts in some software programs—it’s often how our career path brought us to where we are. Some of us are experts in certain products; all of us are skilled in many products, are very technologically savvy, and learn new software quite easily. Before becoming a training producer at lynda.com, my software expertise was in the computer-aided-drafting (CAD) area, having used AutoCAD extensively in my previous career as an engineer, and also in the web design area, using Dreamweaver for the last several versions.

One area of web design I had become increasingly interested in was the use of content management systems (CMS) such as Drupal, WordPress, and Joomla to create web sites that could be more easily maintained than the traditional static web site. So, when the opportunity arose to produce a Joomla title with the very enthusiastic author, Jen Kramer, I jumped right in. I was particularly excited to learn a CMS because I’d been doing volunteer media work for a youth-run nonprofit, Everybody Dance Now, and the teenage leaders desperately needed a new, modern web site they could learn to maintain themselves.

So, after a week of recording with Jen Kramer, I had my first real taste of Joomla, and that, in turn, stimulated my appetite to watch many of the other Joomla and CMS offerings in the lynda.com Online Training Library®. Before I knew it, I had designed a new Joomla-based national web site for the young ladies of Everybody Dance Now, and was being called upon to design other chapter web sites around the country for the same organization, in addition to providing training for those chapters to maintain their own sites. It’s been a whirlwind of volunteer activity that I wouldn’t have been able to participate in, had I not fully immersed myself in the lynda.com Online Training Library® to learn a new topic.

Joomla 1.6 Beta Preview Course Trailer

Click to watch the trailer for Jen's Joomla course.

With the release of Jen Kramer’s Joomla! 1.6 Beta Preview title last week, many people are wondering what Joomla and other content management systems are all about, and how they can apply this technology in their own lives. I’m hoping that sharing my experience as a training producer practicing what we, at lynda.com, teach will help inspire lynda.com members to investigate Joomla and all the various content management systems in the library, and discover these practical and highly-effective solutions for creating and maintaining a powerful web presence.

Watch Jen’s course, Joomla! 1.6 Beta Preview, and learn more about Joomla at the Joomla web site.

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8 Responses to “A lynda.com training producer learns Joomla, and practices what we teach”

  1. Tia says:

    I am really looking forward to this title. It is coming at the perfect time as I start a new project. Would love to see a course on using Dreamweaver CS5 and Joomla together in depth. Thanks Lynda!

  2. IT Creative says:

    Thank you for the tutorial it helped me a lot in my site http://www.goodagency.ro an online newspaper made in joomla.
    good job
    keep up the good work

  3. Jen Kramer says:

    Thanks everyone! I am so glad you enjoyed the video and the 1.6 Beta title. I can’t wait to get Joomla 1.6 Essentials recorded. Rumor has it the Joomla 1.6 release candidate will be out very soon, possibly as soon as 11/29!

    Regarding Dreamweaver/Joomla integration — I have worked on this, and you can see how to make the integration happen at:

    http://www.joomla4web.com/blog/integrating-dreamweaver-cs5-and-joomla-15-or-joomla-16.html

    It’s relatively straightforward to set this up with Dreamweaver CS5 and Joomla. HOWEVER: I do NOT recommend you do this, necessarily. If you’re using DW and Joomla to edit CSS files, or the index.php file associated with your template (not the root index.php file), that’s one thing. You can do that without causing a lot of trouble.

    However, I do NOT recommend you just edit any file in Joomla. There’s about 150 files required to display a page on a Joomla site, and most of these are core files. Editing these core files can cause all kinds of problems, particularly on upgrade.

    So — use Dreamweaver and Joomla to edit CSS or the index.php file associated with your specific template. Do NOT use Dreamweaver with Joomla to edit anything else — unless you know Joomla very well, and you’re very clear about what you’re doing and why. Otherwise, you run a risk of breaking things.

    Good luck!
    Jen

  4. Debee says:

    I hear that Joomla and basically many things written in PHP are a hackers dream. I’ve heard many people say their sites or PHP add applications and such are constantly hacked. Can you shed some light on this?

  5. Jen Kramer says:

    Debee — well, it depends, doesn’t it?

    Let’s say you’re a Windows user. Run your Windows computer on the internet without anti-virus or a firewall. Then don’t update Windows, so it doesn’t have the most recent security updates. Would it be shocking to be hacked? Run really old, unsupported Windows versions and you’re asking to be hacked too.

    When you move to a CMS of any type — it doesn’t matter what programming language it’s written in — you have adopted a living, breathing thing. Gone are the days when you could throw up a static HTML website and ignore it for the next 8 years. If you don’t update your CMS regularly as patches are released, you’re likely to get hacked.

    Your next possible liability is the web server you’re hosted on. Is it your server? If so, you need to keep it up to date with the latest PHP, Apache, MySQL, and operating system patches. If you’re working with a commercial web host, it’s their responsibility to do that task. And guess what? There’s definitely a difference in quality between web hosts. Sometimes a $5/mo web host is quite expensive, particularly if they’re still running PHP 4 with global variables turned on. (That’s a security hole so big that even I know about it, and I know almost nothing about server security. That’s why I have a great web host.)

    And your third major liability is all of the third party extensions you add to your site. Joomla’s core CMS is really not that exciting. You have to add extensions to your Joomla site to make it interesting — calendars, shopping carts, social networking tools, user profiles, contact forms, and so much more.

    But do you know who wrote that extension? Are they committed to keeping it up to date? Have they written it with the best security measures in mind? And have you installed the most recent version of that extension on your website?

    If you maintain your Joomla sites adequately, installing all security updates in a timely manner, and updating your extensions regularly, if your server is with a good web host, then you significantly reduce the likelihood of being hacked.

    I strongly recommend you take a look at Ken Crowder’s video, ‘Joomla 1.5 Security’, available here on lynda.com. He talks about all of these security measures, plus a few more.

    Thanks,
    Jen

  6. Leonel Ellerkamp says:

    Honestly, it doesn’t matter that much. Most programming languages that you might consider will have similar functionality.

    • Chelsea Adams, managing editor says:

      Hi Leonel! What programming languages do you use? Which is your language of choice?

      Thanks for the comment!

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