Using PHP in Joomla

  • PHP Coding With Joomla

    For many developers, portability is a key concept that is always in the back of our minds when designing a website or using a specific platform for doing our coding. When I first started playing with Joomla, I was impressed with the amount of features that it had as well as it's mechanisms for creating 'articles', however I was immediately concerned about upgradability. Questions like "what if they have a major update, will my articles be automatically transferred?" or "what if I have a separate area for development work and testing of a new major version of Joomla, how can i easily get my articles there?". After doing some browsing and thinking, I soon realized that what many people end up doing is actually creating their articles within a php document, and then having Joomla parse them with some 3rd party plugins.

  • Benefits To PHP Coding For Joomla

    There are several benefits to using PHP with Joomla.

    • Portability - The code is PHP code, therefore it is portable no matter what platform you decide to move to in the future. If there is a major architecture upgrade, or you want to move away from the Joomla platform, your articles are already in php format. Minor modifications, if any, would be needed!
    • Leverage Off of Joomla Libraries - Using PHP, you can still leverage off of Joomla libraries.
    • Leverage Off of JQuery / Scripting - Using PHP, you can easily integrate some javascript into your articles without having to worry about the restrictions that come with the native Joomla text editors
    • Easy Edits - You can easily make edits to your code without having to log into the backend of your Joomla system.

  • First Things First, Get Sourcerer

    Before we do anything, we first need a plugin for Joomla that will make it easier to integrate php code with Joomla articles. I used to use the Jumi plugin which was great, but since upgrading to Joomla 3.0 I have switched over to Sourcerer.

    Link To Sourcerer Homepage

    Once you install sourcerer, you can easily integrate php code right inside of our articles. Using a simple tag, you can start using any type of source code that you need, either calling php code directly, or importing php files. In my articles, I actually use an import statement like the following.

    require_once JPATH_SITE.'/myphpcodefolder/somephpfile.php';
  • Tips to getting started

    There are a few tips that you should use to get started with your php coding. There are certain Joomla calls and libraries that should be used to ensure that your site is properly formatted and follows the code pattern of the Joomla system. There are mechanisms built in to help users import and use javascript and style sheets. To get started, you should put the following at the top of your php file.

    		OR defined('_VALID_MOS') OR die( "Direct Access Is Not Allowed" ); 
    	$doc			= JFactory::getDocument();

    The code above does a few things. First, it protects your PHP file from direct access. Even if you do not have anything in the php file that you want to hide from the public, it is a habit you want to get into. This ensures that the Joomla environment is properly initialized and that your code is running within the environment. The second line of the code simply gets the document object and stores it in a local variable.

  • Using Javascript in your PHP File

    Assuming that you have been following the tutorial so far, you should be all set to start using Joomla libraries and their functions. One of the most powerful functions is its scripting libraries. For example, say you want to use javascript in your php file, but you want to make sure you arent using a script that has already been imported, and you want your script tags to be orgainzed in your site. Well, Joomla provides a nice and easy way to do that. Lets take a look at how I have imported and instantiated the libraries used to create the source code display below.

    $doc->addScript(JURI::base() . 'scripts/shCore.js', 'text/javascript');
    $doc->addScript(JURI::base() . 'scripts/shBrushPhp.js', 'text/javascript');	

    By using 'addScript' we are telling the Joomla framework that we want to import a javascript file that is found at 'scripts/...js' and is relative to the base url of our site. Not only does the Joomla library make sure that you haven't imported a library twice, but makes sure to place all of the script's together at the head of the document. Cool huh!

    Let's say that we need to manipulate some javascript variables in the libraries we imported, well instead of manually entering script tags, we can do the following:

    	SyntaxHighlighter.config.clipboardSwf = "/scripts/clipboard.swf";
    	SyntaxHighlighter.defaults["auto-links"] = true;
    	SyntaxHighlighter.defaults["collapse"] = false;
    	SyntaxHighlighter.defaults["gutter"] = true;
    	SyntaxHighlighter.defaults["smart-tabs"] = true;
    	SyntaxHighlighter.defaults["tab-size"] = 4;
    	SyntaxHighlighter.defaults["toolbar"] = true;
    	SyntaxHighlighter.defaults["wrap-lines"] = true;	

    This time we used 'addScriptDeclaration'. Go ahead and right click on this page and view the source, you should see exactly how the Joomla framework handled these function calls.

  • What about CSS Files

    Just like with Javascript, Joomla provides some functions for importing and declaring styles and stylesheets. The calls are similar to what we used for the javascript functions:

    $doc->addStyleSheet(JURI::base() . 
    	$type = 'text/css', 
    	$media = 'screen,projection');
    $doc->addStyleSheet(JURI::base() . 
    	$type = 'text/css', 
    	$media = 'screen,projection');
    	table.datatable tbody tr td p {
    		font: 11px "Courier New";

    Just like with the javascript, Joomla provies an 'addStyleSheet' and 'addStyleDeclaration' call that will make sure that we haven't imported two of the same CSS files, and will align them properly in the page's source code.