Get going in Joomla fast absolute beginners guide to modules


Joomla the easy to use content management system

Joomla is easy to use, once you know it, but without knowing a few simply things, you might find yourself scratching your head for hours when you first come across the Joomla administrator back end.

To help you get started I'm going to show how module position works in Joomla. You really should read and understand this before you start using Joomla! It will save you a lot of time.

Before I get started, a bit of advice. If you haven't already got a host for your site, try to find one which uses Fantastico de luxe Simple Scripts to install scripts (I used to use Fantastico de luxe before Simple Scripts arrived). With Fantastico de luxe Simple Scripts you can quickly and easily install many different scripts, including dozens of scripts including content management systems (CMS) like Joomla! and Drupal. I use Hostmonster to host 20 webites and the cost me about $1 per month each because Hostmonster allows you host unlimited domains, but I digress. The best thing about Hostmonster and other like it, is they have the option to install Joomla! using Fantastico de luxe Simple Scripts. That means it takes me seconds (not kidding) to install Joomla! Sites, and because it was done through my host provider, it works (manual installations for some reason, never work as well).


Joomla lays out a page using modules and puts them in their own 'positions', this can be confusing to beginners soI'll show you how you can get going fast with joomla module positions.


Joomla arranges the web site into regions. The regions are given easy to remember names like top, left, right etc. The working parts of Joomla are called 'modules' . For example a list of popular items on the site is contained in a module called 'Popular'. By setting the position of 'Popular' to 'left', the list of popular items will appear in the left hand column. By simply changing the setting 'position', a module will appear in a different place on the page. It might help to think of a module as the movable box in which something operates.


To change the position setting of modules log on as administrator to your Joomla site and click modules>sitemodules (extensions>module manager on Joomla 1.5) this will bring up the site module manager where you can make all the changes. Try moving the module 'Popular' on your site to different positions, click the upper right 'save' icon and go and check your website to see where the module has moved (use ctrl-F5 to refresh the page and check out the newly positioned module)


It is imperative you understand the concept of modules in Joomla. Lets revise:

  1. a module is a movable 'thing' in which something is displayed or operates.

  2. when you change it's 'position' setting, a module will move to a different part of the page.

Two more important things to know about modules are:

  1. A module can be enabled or not (published/unpublished on earlier versions of Joomla). If it is enabled then it is visible on the site (you might say turned on). If it is not enabled, then you won't see it anywhere on the site (as though it's turned off). You can click on the icon in the column that says 'enabled' for the module you want to enable/disable and it will toggle on and off (note: while toggling the icon, the page will refresh). As always, save the changes for them to take effect and refresh the website with ctrl-F5 key to view module changes.

  2. Modules appear in order, you can change the order of modules at any time. The module with order number 1, will be the first to appear in that template position (you can see the order that is set, it's shown in a box in the column 'order'). To change a modules order, either change the number in the box in the 'order' column or click the up or down arrow in the 'reorder' column to have it move up or down one step.

When you begin using Joomla you should know all the module positions of the template you are using. In Joomla you can change your site template, and the whole site look will change. Module positioning can also change (eg the module position 'top' often changes from template to template).


Knowing where the positions are set up on your particular template is essential. I strongly suggest you print a layout of the module positions for the template you are using.


TOP MODULE POSITIONING TIP: To view/find where the module positions are for your template simply go to your site eg: and add "index.php?tp=1" (without the quotes). The URL (address) would then be


The module positions for this template will then be displayed.


Here are the module positions for the default template of Joomla 1.0.x rtuk_solareflare_ii


module position layout for default Joomla 1.0.13 template rtuk_solareflare_ii


If you download a template look for a similar module layout that you can print. Or print the page with the module positions shown as above - ie: 


If you want to know which module positions are used by the your template, go to the templates folder of your Joomla site, look in the folder with the name of you template and edit the file



(you can just load it in notepad if you like). Look for a section like this:


This will tell you which module positions are used for that particular template.


I hope the is helps you understand what modules are and how to position them in Joomla.


One final reminder. If you change a template which has a module positioned on the 'left' to a template which has no left column, the module will cease to appear. To remedy this go to module manager and change the modules position to a module position that does exist and it will become visible again.
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