The Secrets of the Joomla Messaging Extension
We've been teaching Joomla 2.5 for around two years now.
2.5 is a successful, reliable platform. We run OSTraining.com on 2.5, and lately we've found that nearly 100% of our live training students are using it.
However, some part of 2.5 are often confusing to our students. One of these is the Messaging extension.
In this blog, I'm going to show you the two features of the Messaging extension. I'm also going to suggest two ways in which Messaging could be improved in future Joomla releases.
Feature #1: Private Messaging
In the Components menu, you can find the Messaging extension. Click that link.
You'll now be able to send privates messages to other users, so long as they are in the Super Users or Administrator groups.
Although this private messaging feature exists, I've never seen or heard of anyone using it.
Why would the use it when there are so many alternatives such as Skype, email, phone calls and project managements systems. Still, this private messaging is actually the only feature of Messaging that is mentioned in the Joomla documentation.
However, Messaging does have a second, potentially far more useful feature: notifications.
Feature #2: Notifications
Let's see an example of how notifications work:
- Go to Menus > Main Menu and make a new menu link.
- Choose the Create Article menu item type.
Now when people at the Author level and above visit the site, they can submit content from the front-end.
Once they submit an article, they'll get this message:
In the backend of the site, administrators will also get a message. It will show in the top-right corner as shown below:
Click the link, and you get taken to the Messaging component. In here you can see a message that a new article was submitted:
Here's what the message will look like:
You'll also receive an email. This email feature can be turned off if you get too many of these messages.
Changing the Messaging extension
Features go past their sell-by-date. It's good to remove or improve the core extensions, based on how people use them (or don't).
WordPress 3.5 recently removed the Links feature that had been around for years. They found that people just weren't using it much.
Drupal 8 is removing several long-standing modules including Blog and Polls.
Joomla removed the Polls extension when moving from 1.5 to 2.5.
Joomla's release cycle doesn't allow for the removal of features in Joomla 3, but we can improve them. Here are 2 suggestions that keep the Messaging extension intact while making it more useful and less confusing:
Suggestion #1: Minimize the Private Messaging Feature
- Reverse the tabs inside the Messaging component itself, so that the Messages tab is more prominent.
- Remove the Messaging link from the main Components dropdown.
Why do this? Simply because the Messaging extension has no use as a private message extension.
However, it does work well as a notification system, which brings me to suggestion #2:
Suggestion #2: Embrace Notifications
We should encourage developers to use this as a universal notifications system for Joomla:
- E-commerce extensions could notify admins about new orders.
- Calendar extensions could notify admins when new events are submitted.
- Comments extensions could notify admins when new comments are made or existing ones are marked as spam.
It could be wonderful to have one single place to find all of the important updates for your site. Notifications is a feature that people would actually use.