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How to Choose Among the Thousands of Joomla Extensions

When you search or browse the Joomla Extension Directory (JED) it will produce a listing of available extensions. All of the information that you need to choose the right extension for you is in the listing.

On the right side of the listing is the extension’s logo. Each listing also includes other important information, such as the average number of stars the extension has received from users, a link to the extension developer’s website (a great resource for discovering more about the extension before you download it for use), and what version of Joomla the extension has been designed to run on.

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Pick the right Joomla version

Notice the icon to the left of the star ratings. It includes the Joomla version and whether or not it is Native or Legacy.

If the icon says Native, it means that it is written for and fully supported by the Joomla version that precedes it in the icon. You may also see on occasion a button that notes an extension to be Legacy. This refers to extensions that, while written for a previous Joomla version, can run in the version indicated in the icon.

No matter which version of Joomla you’re using, always using extensions that are native to your installation. If you’re using Joomla 1.5, for example, your first choice should be 1.5 native extensions; extensions described only as 1.0 native won’t work for you. Extensions listed as 1.5 legacy may work for you in legacy mode.

To enable legacy mode in Joomla 1.5, choose Extensions→Plugin Manager in any back-end page to open Plugin Manager; then find the System – Legacy plug-in, which is disabled by default. Click the icon in that plug-in’s Enabled column, changing it from a red X to a green check mark.

Know what you’re getting

Next to the number of reviews that an extension has received are more icons that tell you what items the extension includes. The listing for the Akeeba Backup extension features two of these icons: C (component), M (at least one module). Other extensions may also list P (at least one plug-in), L (different languages), and S (special, extension-specific code).

If you’re looking for an extension that’s only a module, look for entries that have only the M icon. If you’re looking for a component, look for the C icon, and so on.

Check the ratings

Above an extension’s description are star ratings, the number of votes, and the number of reviews. The reviews text is a link; click it to see user reviews for that extension.

User reviews are among the most useful features of the Joomla extensions site. Be sure to read a number of the user comments over before making your decision on whether an extension is right for you or not. Taking the time to understand the benefits and drawbacks of a particular extension can save you a lot of time and trouble.

When you find an extension that looks right, click the Download button in its listing to download it to your computer.

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