| Components

It is little secret that Joomla! has a thriving 3rd party developer community.  Any function you can think of is probably already available in one of the many 3rd party extensions. It is sometimes difficult to wade through all of the choices that are out there to determine what you need, so I have put together a short list of components that I feel are must-have components. So, without further adieu, here is my list:

Free/Open Source Components 

  • JoomlaXplorer - If you do not have this component yet, get it! JoomlaXplorer is a component that enables a site administrator to manage all files within a Joomla! installation. You can use it to upload, delete, copy, move, and chmod (change permissions to) any file that the web server gives you permission to modify. I use to to customize modules and components after I have installed them, customize templates, and upload images. It makes so many functions available right from the administrator interface, you will wonder how you ever lived without it.  Make this the first thing you install on your Joomla! site.
  • Community Builder - This is the best user profile component available for Joomla!, and it's absolutely free!  You can use this component to create something as complex as your own version of the popular social networking site, MySpace.com, or something as simple as an extended user profile for gathering information about your users.
  • VirtueMart - VirtueMart offers a complete e-commerce solution for your Joomla! website. It would take too long to list all of the things this component can do, but suffice it to say that it is nothing short of amazing. If you plan on running a full-featured online store, this is what you need. Oh, and it's free!
  • Forms Generators
    • FacileForms - In my opinion, FacileForms is the most robust, versatile forms generator component available for Joomla!.  You can create entire applications (and some have) using this component.  The only drawback is the steep learning curve.
    • MosForms - MosForms is not as powerful as FacileForms, and it is technically still in beta.  However, I find it a lot easier to use and configure, and it is worth testing to see if it will work for your website.  I've used it in another project, and it works well for me there.

Commercial Components

  • Phil Taylor - Phil Taylor has been developing components for Joomla! for years, and he is definitely one of the best.  Here is a list of some of his components:
    • Phil-A-Form - Phil-A-Form is a forms generator component that is easy to use and configure, and it provides a lot of functionality. It is not as robust as FacileForms, but it will not take you long to have a form up and running on your site. Cost: GBP£ 22.50
    • Tags - As far as I know, this is the first component that provides folksonomy capability in Joomla!.  It enables administrators and their users to "tag" content items. This is a way to categorize items outside of the "Section->Category" structure in Joomla!, and it gives greater flexibility for the organization of content on your Joomla! site. Cost: GBP£ 22.50
    • mosDirectory - This component brings directory functionality to your website. Use it to create a directory of local business, Joomla sites, your favorite recipes, etc. It is a very powerful component. The only problem is that it does not enable your users to comment on directory listings.
  • Mosets -
    • Mosets Hot Property - This is a real estate management component. I have personally never used it, but I know that it offers a lot of functionality for a reasonable price. Cost: $119 (See their site for more details on pricing)
    • Mosets Tree - This is another directory component. It offers the same functionality as mosDirectory, but it also provides commenting on listings. I recommend trying out both to decide which one works best for your needs. Oh, and Joomla.org uses it for the official Extensions Directory . Cost: $99 (See their site for more details on pricing)
  • JomComment - This is a relative new-comer to the Joomla! community, but JomComment is my favorite comments component. In fact, I'm using it here. Use it to enable your visitors to comment on content items. It also uses AJAX technology to enhance the user experience. (Updated 11/02/06: JomComment Version 1.7 now offers trackback support.) Cost: $20 or $30
  • iJoomla Magazine - This component provides a better way to display your content on your Joomla front page. I've never used it, but I've seen several sites that do, and it really adds a professional look to their sites. Cost: $49.95

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More to Come

This is by no means an exhaustive list. I will add more as I think of more. If I have left off your favorite component, please contact me and let me know. I might not add it, but I'd love to learn about the other great components that are out there.