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ArtCats for Joomla! Examples - ArtCats Introduction and Brief History

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ArtCats for Joomla! Examples
ArtCats Introduction and Brief History
Static Module Examples
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Introduction and Brief ArtCats for Joomla! History

Probably the first thing you'll notice when you first open up the ArtCats for Joomla! configuration screen is that there are a whole lot of options for you to play around with, making the module very flexible according to your needs.

Because of the many different parameter combinations, I'll only be covering the basics here in my examples, but hopefully it will be enough to help you figure whether or not the module will take care of your needs.

I guess to start off, it would be nice for you to know why I ended up creating ArtCats in the first place. I did so because as I began creating (or at least thinking about) more complicated websites with many pages worth of content I began to realize that by default, Joomla! did not really include any capabilities for listing articles in a module. In other words, most of the examples I had seen relied on menu modules being creating by hand with the links to the articles you wanted to link to (and then the menu module would be configured to display on the pages you needed them to be displayed on).

So like most people, I went onto the Joomla! Extensions Directory to see if somebody had already tried to fix my problem. I didn't find what I wanted, but I did find a module that did something similar, except it listed Joomla! Categories (instead of articles) named Categories 1.5, by Rich Dorfman. By this time I was looking to begin developing my own Joomla! Extensions and this seemed like a good project to begin with, and Categories 1.5 seemed like it would provide a good starting place for me to begin writing my own module, especially with Joseph LeBlanc's excellent Learning Joomla! 1.5 Extension Development on my desk to help guide me.

I thought about my project for a while before beginning development, and as I thought about it more and more I began thinking that I could integrate the Categories functionality of Categories 1.5, in addition to my own thoughts about listing Articles. Since my module would be able to display both Articles and Categories it led to me being slightly creative and naming my project "ArtCats". Up until that point however, I had only ever seen what you might call "static" modules. That is, modules that you configure them, and you set them to be displayed on certain pages, and that's it...their output always remains constant no matter which page you're on. It was a little later during the development of ArtCats where I came up with (what seemed like unique idea to me, as I'd never seen it before) the concept of the "dynamic" module.

In the ArtCats parameters, the one that determines whether the module will be dynamic or not is the "Automatic Mode" toggle, which by default is turned ON. The concept is extremely simple: rather than let the articles/categories being displayed be determined by a static module parameter...why not allow the module to check the URL (which for com_content might look something like index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=19&Itemid=27 for an article, index.php?option=com_content&view=category&layout=blog&id=1&Itemid=50 for a category and index.php?option=com_content&view=section&id=4&Itemid=37 for a section) and allow the module to pull out the needed values (namely, the article, category and/or section IDs) and use those values to determine which articles/categories needed to be displayed for that page.

This opened up the door for so much "automagic". Now instead of worrying about which pages you wanted to module to be displayed under, you could simply turn on Automatic Mode and set your module to be displayed on all pages and it would show up when it needed to.

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