Localhost Design Process
The web page you see at a Joomla-powered website is not static. That means it is generated dynamically from content stored in the database. The page that you see is created through various PHP commands that are in the template, which presents some difficulties in the design phase.
It's common now to use a What You See Is What You Get (WYSIWYG) HTML editor, such as Dreamweaver. This means that the designer does not even need to code the HTML. However, this is not possible in the Joomla template design process because WYSIWYG editors cannot display a dynamic page. This means that the designer must code "by hand" and view the output page from the PHP on a served page. With a fast enough connection this could be a web server, but most designers use a "local server" on their own computer. This is a piece of software that will serve the web pages on the designer's computer.
There is no "right way" to create a web page; it depends on the designer's background. Those more graphics-inclined make an "image" of a page in a graphics program like Photoshop and then break up the images to be able to use them for the Web (known as slice and dice). More technology-based designers will often just jump straight into the CSS and start coding. However, as just mentioned, the Joomla template designer is limited in that he cannot instantly see the effect of his coding in the same editor. The modified design process is as follows:
- Make edits with HTML editor, save changes.
- Have localhost server running in background to "run" Joomla.
- View edits in a web browser.
- Return to step 1.
Localhost Server Options
In Chapter 2, "Downloading and Installing Joomla," we saw how to install a web server that will run on your computer. We described one for a webserver called WAMP5. To move further along in this chapter, you will need to have this installed. If you haven't yet, go ahead and install it. I'll wait right here.