50 Top Joomla! Extensions

With more than 4,000 Extensions in the Joomla! Extensions Directory, one of the most daunting aspects of selecting a Joomla! Extension is finding the right tool for the job. With thousands of Extensions to choose from, you are sometimes faced with multiple options that appear to achieve your goals. While there really is no subsitute for downloading things and trying them out yourself, in this article I provide a list of fifty Joomla! Extensions as a starting point for addressing common needs.

This article is excerpted from the upcoming Joomla! Bible, from Wiley & Sons. That book is due for publication in early November and can be pre-ordered directly from the publisher at www.wiley.com. Watch this site across the coming months as we preview more from this new title.

Note that this is not an endorsement of one particular Extension over another, but rather simply a list of resources to help you get started. The list includes both commercial and non-commercial Extensions. The Extensions are numbered for convenience only — not as an indicator or preference or popularity.

The Extensions have been grouped as follows:

:: A Word of Caution :: 
The rate of change in the open source world can be daunting. Developers change, projects fork, some projects get abandoned. While this list may hae been accurate when compiled, it’s impossible to say which projects will remain vital in six months’ time. The list of extensions I provide will no doubt change over time. You should always keep this in mind when you are selecting extensions, and if business risk is an issue for you, then you need to do your own research and consider carefully which extensions you adopt.

eCommerce and Catalog Management

If you want to sell online or add a product catalog to your site, you should probably consider installing a dedicated Extension to expand on the core system’s functionality.

[01] VirtueMart

I list only one Extension in this category as VirtueMart is far and away the leader. Not only does VirtueMart provide flexible ecommerce options, it also provides usable catalog managament, so whether you want to sell online or just showcase products, this one Extension can do it all.

Improving Content Management

The Extensions listed in this section all expand upon the systems default content management functionality. The list includes both Extensions to enhance existing Articles as well as several powerful tools for changing the nature of the Articles and the Article editing functionality.

[02] AllVideos Reloaded

This Component enables the embedding and display of videos on your website. The Component comes in multiple parts: a content plugin, an editor plugin, a system plugin and a module. Once installed you can display video files either inside of Articles or inside Module positions, or as a pop-up inside a light box. The most recent version also includes a utility to convert various video formats in .flv (flash video) files. This is a non-commercial extension.

[03] Attachments for Content articles

This extension makes it easy to add attachments to your Articles. The attachments can be viewed or downloaded by your site visitors. The extension combines a Component for uploading and managing attachments and a Plugin for adding attachments to the site Articles. This is a non-commercial extension.

[04] Content Templater

Content Templater is a powerful extension that enables the creation of pre-defined, reusable templates for your Articles. If your site has multiple administrators, the use of content templates is one of the best ways to maintain a consistent appearance throughout the site. The extension allows you to create multiple templates which then appear inside the editor where they can be selected by the editor. The templates extend beyond content layout to include the other common attributes, including the title, alias, publishing settings, etc. This is a non-commercial extension.

[05] Custom Properties

The Custom Properties extension provides a way to attach tags to your Articles. The tags can then be used as aids to organization and navigation. Custom Properties opens up the Joomla! content hierarchy as the Extension makes it possible to associate multiple tags with a single Article and to search and view the Article by each of those tags. Elements included in the Extension give you the option to provide a dedicated search by tag and an option to generate a tag cloud. This is a non-commercial Extension.

[06] JCE

JCE is a WYSIWYG editor for your Joomla site. If you are looking for an alternative to the default editor, JCE is one option. The editor is extendable, allowing you to add in a file manager, a media manager and an image manager. This is a non-commercial Extension, however, some of the Extensions incur a fee.

[07] JomComment

JomComment enables user comments for your Articles. The system is Ajax-based, thereby avoiding page reloads, and supports templates and SPAM prevention. You can also configure the system to require that comments be moderated and approved prior to appearing on your site. There is an additional module available that allows you to display the most recent comments on the site in a module position. This is a commercial component.

[08] JoomlaFCK Editor

JoomlaFCK Editor is a port of the popular FCK Editor package. FCK is a powerful and easy to use WYSIWYG editor that gives you a strong alternative to Joomla’s default editor. The editor includes image uploading and management functions and a wide array of formatting tools and options. This is a non-commercial Extension.

[09] K2

K2 bills itself as the ultimate content construction kit for Joomla. It presents a major change in the way content items are handled in your Joomla! site. Using this Extension, you can create custom content types with custom fields. This makes it possible for you to break out of the restrictions of the default Joomla! three-tier content hierarchy and the limited content type. The Extension supports tagging as well as the inclusion of a variety of media formats. This is a non-commercial Extension.

[10] Labels

Labels provide a way to tag your Joomla! Articles and Contacts. The Labels can be used to impose organization on your site and to enhance user navigation. Using Labels, you can assign one Article to multiple classifications. The Labels can then be used as the basis for lists of Articles or they can be displayed independently as a Tag Cloud. This is a commercial Extension.

[11] MetaMod

The MetaMod Extension enhancing Module management. It allows you to add additional rules and logic for displaying Modules on your pages. You can set start and end date for Module publication and can trigger module display according to the appearance of text or metadata in an item. The newest version include geo-location filtering, making it possible to show visitors different content, based upon their IP address. One of the more useful features is the ability to hide modules once a user has logged in. This is a non-commercial Extension.

[12] News Show

News Show Pro is a content display Extension that allows you to display Articles in a wide variety of formats using a combination of Modules. The Extensions makes it easy to display multiple items on one page in a variety of formats and greatly eases the burden of managing them. Configuration options allow you to display Articles vertically or horizontally and to sort them and control their appearance by a variety of criteria. This is a non-commercial Extension.

Improving administration

The Extensions listed in this section are all intended to make managing th administration of your Joomla! site easier. They provide functionality you may well get already from other tools, but with these Extensions you are able to do the job directly from within the Joomla! admin system, thereby savings yourself time and effort.

[13] eXtplorer

eXtplorer is a file and FTP management component. It allows you to browse and manage files from within your Joomla! admin interface without the necessity of using an external FTP or file management client. You can search, browse, upload and download files on your server and you can create and extract archives and manage file permissions. This is a non-commercial Extension.

[14] Joomla! Tools Suite

The Joomla! Tools Suite Extension is intended to be installed independently of Joomla! in order to provide you with a fall back in the case of problems with the site and to allow you to assess and monitor the site’s health. Features include post installation health checks, installation assessment, security auditing, core-file modification auditing, file-system auditing, Extension reporting and database auditing facilities. This is a non-commercial Extension.

[15] JoomlaPack

JoomlaPack is a back-up component for Joomla!. It creates a full backup of a site in a single archive and can be restored by any Joomla! capable server, thereby providing not only basic back-up facility, but also an aid for site migration. It is flexible and customizable. This is a non-commercial Extension.

Enhancing Search

Joomla! search sometimes needs a little help. Here are two Extensions that enhance the site search experience.

[16] JXtended Finder

Finder is an advanced search engine for Joomla!, giving you a more powerful alternative to the default search functionality. In addition to full text search, the Extension also enables a variety of filters, including custom-defined filters. This is a commercial Extension.

[17] PixSearch

The PixSearch Module creates an Ajax-based search box that searches as you type and displays results immediately in a pop-up box. The search is similar to that seen on a number of sites and in the Mac OSX Spotlight search feature. This is a non-commercial Extension but it does require registration.

Enhancing Menus and Navigation

While the most recent version of Joomla! provides more flexibility in the Menu layouts, these two extensions make it easy to create great looking Menus in a variety of formats and styles.

[18] Extended Menu

Extended Menu extends the functionality of Joomla’s MainMenu Module. You will still have to use CSS to achieve the styling, but the configuration options make it very easy to change the menu orientation and to split and re-order the Menu. The Extension also enhances the ability to work with parent-child menu item relationships. This is a non-commercial Extension.

[19] swMenu

swMenu is a set of Menu creation and management Extensions. You can create and integrate unlimited Menu Modules and achieve a wide variety of styling. There are commercial and non-commercial versions available on the developer’s site.

Building Complex Forms

The default Joomla! system offers extremely limited options for form creation. The Extensions listed below address this issue by providing the ability to create complex forms on your Joomla! site.

[20] bfForms

An AJAX admin interface makes it easy to create complex forms. The Extension supports unlimited forms and fields and is Smarty Templates enabled. Forms created with this Extension support the Akismet and Mollom anti-SPAM systems, as well as IP banning and blacklists. Submit buttons and validation are also configurable. This is a commercial Extension.

[21] ChronoForms

ChronoForms is a great choice for those with HTML skills who want more control over their forms. With this Extension, you can create the form in your favorite HTML editor, then copy and paste it into the ChronoForms Component. There is also a drag and drop form creation interface for those who don’t want to do the work in HTML. The Extension also gives you to ability to create database tables and connect those to forms, thereby allowing you to capture form data in the DB. This is a non-commercial component, but does include a back link to the developer’s site. You can remove the back link for a fee.

[22] RSform!Pro

RSForm! Pro is an AJAX-enabled form builder. The Extension supports a wide variety of fields and input types and allows you to create forms without any HTML knowledge. Data gathered with the forms can be exported to CSV format. This is a commercial Extension.

Adding Gallery Functionality

Galleries are one of the most commonly-requested Extensions to Joomla! Perhaps then it is not surprising that there are a large number of options in this area. The list below includes both full-featured galleries and simple slideshow components.

[23] Expose

Expose creates Flash-based slideshows. The size is adjustable and the resulting slideshow is search engine friendly. The Component includes album management and various configuration options that allow you to create attractive slideshows. This is a non-commercial Extension.

[24] Frontpage Slideshow

Frontpage Slideshow creates JavaScript and CSS-based slideshows. One of the most powerful features of this Extension is the ability to integrate text with images to create PowerPoint-type slides. Configuration options give you a great deal of control over the timing, display triggers and transitions. This is a commercial Extension.

[25] Phoca Photo Gallery

The Phoca Component provides an image gallery that also includes slideshow functionality. The Extension provides a large number of options for controlling the catalog categories and the images they contain. Images can be displayed using a variety of techniques, including light boxes, slideshows or standard page views. The gallery supports images and videos and is search engine friendly. There are a number of Modules and themes available to extend the functionality of this Component. This is a non-commercial Extension.

[26] RokSlideshow

RokSlideshow is a JavaScript-powered slideshow Module. The Extension provides a choice of six customizable transition types and thirty wipe and push transitions. You can add titles, captions and control font size and colors. This is a non-commercial Extension.

[27] RSGallery2

RSGallery provides an easy to customize gallery component. The Extension’s use of a separate Template system means you can modify the presentation significantly without hacking the core files. The Extension includes not only image and category management but also a slideshow functionality. RSGallery supports image download and integrates well with Community Builder. This is a non-commercial Extension.

Adding a Directory

If you want to create a categorized listing of companies, products or other items or services, then these directory Extensions will help you create a professional and functional site.

[28] Mosets Tree

The Mosets Tree Extension enables the creation of a Yahoo! style directory on your site. The system provides all the features you normally associate with online directories including unlimited categories and sub-categories, the ability to browse the listings and the ability to search for listings. Listing fields are customizable and the Extension supports the creation of custom fields. This Extension is used to power the official Joomla! Extensions Directory. This is a commercial Extension.

[29] SOBI2

The SigSiu Online Business Index Extension allows you to create complex directories. The directory listings can be maintained by either the site administrator or by the registered users. The system offers a number of fields for listings and it is possible to create custom fields. The core Extension is non-commercial but many of the additional modules you will want — like search — are commercial.

Adding a Forum

Threaded discussion forms have moved way past the old BBD format. Joomla! has several excellent forum Extensions. Here are two of the best.

[30] ccBoard

The ccBoard forum provides complete forum functionality with a wide variety of options. You can create moderated or unmoderated forums, and allow guest postings or force user registration. The Extension also supports user karma, bad word filtering, SPAM filters, and more. This is a non-commercial Extension.

[31] Kunena

The Kunena Extension is a fork of the popular Fireboard Forum Component. This is a full-featured forum supporting all common features, including threaded discussions, multiple categories, user management, moderation, avatars and much more. This is a non-commercial Extension.

Adding a File Exchange

File Exchanges provide a way for you to exchange documents or other files with your site visitors.

[32] DocMan

DocMan is a document management and file exchange Extension. You can manage documents and files in multiple categories and subcategories and give users permission to upload, download or edit documents. The system supports multiple group permissions that allow you to show specific files to only specific groups. A search system is integrated. This is a non-commercial Extension.

Managing Multi-lingual Content

While the Lnaguage Packs in Joomla! enable the system messages in multiple languages, they do nothing about the Articles and other content. If you want to display a fully multi-lingual site you will need to install a multi-lingual content extensions to help you manage the translations. The dominant Extension is Joom!Fish.

[33] Joom!Fish

The Joom!Fish Extension enables multi-lingual content management on your Joomla! site. With this Extension you can run your front-end content in multiple languages and allow users to switch easily between languages. The newest version supports routing to assist with your search marketing efforts and to build consistency into the URL structures. The core Extension is free of charge but some enhancements are now commercial.

Enhancing SEO

Joomla! provides SEF URLs as part of the Global Configuration options, but for those of you who want to do more, you should consider these Extensions.

[34] Artio JoomSEF

This SEF Extension re-writes your Joomla! URLs to be search engine friendly. The Extension handles multi-lingual sites and works with both the Apache web server and the IIS web server. The system allows you to customize the URL strings and supports multiple URL formats. JoomSEF goes beyond just SEF URLs, adding in support for expanded metatags and customizable error pages. This is a non-commercial Extension but does include a back link to the developer’s site. The back link can be removed for a fee.

[35] JooMap

Joomap is a sitemap component that generates both front-end site maps for your site visitors and XML sitemaps for the search engines. Note also the Xmap Extension, discussed below. This is a non-commercial Extension.

[36] Sh404SEF

This Extension generates search engine friendly URLs and also provides management for titles and meta tags. There are additional plugins available for this Extension to provide support for many other common Extensions, like VirtueMart, Fireboard and Community Builder. This is a non-commercial Extension.

[37] Xmap

Xmap is based on Joomap, discussed above. The two Extensions are very similar and both produce front-end user site maps and XML site maps. You should review both to determine your preference. This is anon-commercial Extension.

Extending User Management

If you want to breakout of the limited Joomla! user manager and group access privileges, you will need to look at installing a third party Extension. Similarly, if you are integrating other software systems that require login access, you should consider a third party Extension to provide single log in for your users.

[38] JACLPlus

JACLPlus enables you to break out of the default Joomla! Access Control Rules and create custom groups and permissions. This system also included the ability to assign users to multiple groups. Note that this Extension requires that your server use the Zend Optimizer. This is a commercial Extension.

[39] Jfusion

If your site integrates additional systems that require login, Jfusion allows your users to log in only one time to access all systems. Systems supported include phpBB, Vbulletin, Magento, SimpleMachines Forum and Moodle. This is a non-commercial Extension.

[40] JUGA

JUGA provides enhanced access control to Joomla! Articles and Components. Also enables you to create unlimited numbers of user groups and control user assignment within groups. One of the key features allows you to hide Menu Items and Modules based on a user’s group membership. The Extension has a dual licensing scheme with the basic version non-commercial. Basic version, however, lacks many of the key features. A complete version is available for a fee.

Adding Web 2.0 Functionality

Web 2.0 functionality is widely in demand. In this section are listed several Extensions that help build community and stimulate user interaction.

[41] AddThis Social Bookmarking

Integrates the AddThis social bookmarking button to your site. This is a non-commercial Extension.

[42] Community Builder

Community Builder is an entire suite of Components and Modules that enable you to turn Joomla! into a community website with user pages and a high degree of user interactivity. There are a large number of Modules and Plugins available for Community Builder and integration of the Extension is widely supported by other common Extensions. This is a non-commercial Extension, but it does require registration to download.

[43] JomSocial

The JomSocial Extension enables you to turn your Joomla! installation into a full blown social networking engine. The Extension is still relatively young, but the current release is feature rich and shows a great deal of promise. It is certainly your easiest, fastest route to a social networking website.

[44] JReviews

JReviews is a powerful Extension that lets you create a reviews and ratings website with Joomla! The system is customizable and can even be used as an alternative method for handling your Joomla! content items, with custom structure and fields. This is a commercial Extension.

[45] MyBlog

MyBlog provides greatly enhanced blogging functionality for Joomla! The default Joomla! system allows you to create blog-type layouts, buy MyBlog gives you true blogging functionality with a wide range of common features. Includes RSS feeds, Technorati pings, Trackbacks and support for multiple bloggers. Integrates with both Community Builder and JomSocial. This is a commercial Extension.

[46] Plugin Googlemaps

plugin Googlemaps is a Joomla! Plugin that integrates Google Map functionality. Not only does it allow users to view Google Maps, but also includes support for MKL files and marker placement. Directions are integrated and can appear in popup or lightbox. This is a non-commercial Extension.

[47] Tweetme

Tweetme is a simple Extension that adds a Tweet This button to your Articles and items. This is a non-commercial Extension.

Improving Ad Management

If you want to run ads on your site at anything more than a basic level, you will need to look to an Extension to provide you with greater functionality than Joomla’s basic Banner Manager.

[48] AdSense Module

The AdSense Module allows you to place single or multiple Google AdSense units on the pages of your Joomla! site. The Extension supports the various Google options as well as the ability to randomize ad colors and to block ads from being displayed to certain IP addresses. This is a non-commercial Extension.

[49] Easy AdSense for Joomla

Allows you to run one or more Google AdSense units on your pages. This simple Extension provides control over all key variables plus the ability to block an unlimited number of IPs and to use alternative messages when ads are not displayed. This is a non-commercial Extension.

[50] iJoomla Ad Agency

iJoomla Ad Agency is a full-featured banner and ad management system for Joomla! You can run single ads, campaigns or packages. The system also supports breaking pages into zones for the purpose of managing ads and rates. Supports a wide range of ad formats and sizes. This is a commercial Extension.

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