What are Joomla! extensions, components, modules and plugins and how do you use them?

Extensions let you add additional features to your base Joomla! installation, and the Joomla! Extensions Directory (JED) is your starting point when looking for a new extension.

Joomla! includes 5 different types of extensions, components, modules, plugins, templates, and languages. They all fall under the umbrella name of a ‘Joomla! extension’.

Components are typically the most complex and could be considered as a mini-application, e.g. eCommerce or blogging extensions.

Modules are lighter weight and can be assigned on a page-by-page basis, e.g. a latest news or login modules which might be placed on the side bar of selected pages.

Plugins add features or functionality sitewide, often inserting content into the body of a Joomla! page or responding to user interaction, e.g. with a form plugin on your site, adding shortcode like {form1} to an article could insert a form into the page when viewed.

Templates control your site design, what visitors see when they come to your website.

Joomla! can be configured to use any number of languages, so it’s an excellent choice for multilingual sites and  language extensions are what you use for this. Your initial site will probably be English or French, and you use the Joomla! extension manager to install additional languages just like any other extension.

The steps for installing any extension are basically the same:

  • Using the JED, find your extension and save the zip file to your desktop
  • Log in to the back end of your site
  • Go to Extensions > Manage > Install
  • From the Upload Package File tab, locate and upload the zip file you saved to your desktop. Optionally, Joomla! now includes an ‘Install from Web’ option which lets you download and install some extensions directly from the back end of your website
  • You will typically need to enable and or configure most extensions after installation

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