Menus, Categories, Articles, oh my! - The Next Step

So, you've set up your Menu structure, your different Categories, and you've written a few Articles.  Voila, one nice shiny new web page, n'est-ce pas?

Well, yes and no.


This Article that you are reading is the main content of this page, as defined by some combination of Menu, Category and Article as previously discussed.  But what about the rest of the stuff in the page?  The menu at the top (well, under the disclaimer for the moment -- and yeah, what about the disclaimer?) and the 'Gantry' copyright message at the bottom.  What about that box to the right, with its list of articles in this Category?

Well, they're Modules!  (In case the huge heading above didn't give it away!)

Everything we've covered up to now has been enough to produce a simple page.  But without Modules, we would not have a workable site.  Remember "Where Did My Menus Go?" from the last article?  Menus, like everything else that is not part of the main body of a page, are held within Modules.  Modules can be set to display (or not) on any particular set of pages (by which I mean Menus as discussed above!)  They can be placed in any of the available Locations (as defined by the Template you are using.)  And they can contain a wide range of content -- from simple user-defined HTML as in the disclaimer above, to complex hierarchical menus, to, well, you can see the complete list of possibilities when you click on "Create Module"!

So, therefore, the list to the right of this article is a Module which lists all Articles in a specified Category; placed in "sidebar-a".  Easy, huh?  I've given it a different shading type (by setting "Module Class Suffix" to "box2" in "Advanced Options" for that Module.  And I've specified that it should only appear on the "Lessons Learned" and "A New Joomla Page" menu items.

But wait? I hear you say.  Why are we seeing it on this page?  I'm not entirely sure, but I think because this page is not defined by a Menu Item, it uses the Module visibility settings of its parent Menu Item.  The other article, "A New Joomla Page", is defined by a Menu Item, and therefore that Module can be turned off or on independently of its parent page -- but this one only shows what "Lessons Learned" shows...

Redefining Index

Okay, so how did I redefine the index page?  For that matter, what is the index page?

Simply put, the index page is the start page is the home page.  If you go straight to a website without specifying any additional path beyond the ".com" (or "" in my case) the page you see is the index page.  I'm used to calling it the index page because that's the default name -- the default file that is loaded -- by Apache, the number one web server in use today.  Other web servers use a different approach, of course, but that's what I'm used to.

So anyway, how did I move the Home page out to a new location and add my own content in the default position?

Well, there's one further piece of information (that I hadn't quite figured out at the time) that makes this quite simple.  If you look at the Menu Items tab of the Menu Manager, you'll see a column called "Home".  One row has a gold star in that column -- and that Menu Item is your home page.  All you should have to do to move out the old and put in a new one is:

  • Edit the current Home Menu Item.  Rename it, change its parent Item, whatever you have to do to move it to where you now want it.  Doing it this way should ensure that any modules associated with that page remain attached to it.
  • Create a new "Home" Menu Item with whatever content you want.
  • In the Menu Items page, tick your new "Home" Item, and click on the "Home" icon across the top to set it as the new Home page.

My approach was a little more involved than that, but that should work just fine.

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