When people start getting into Joomla!, they often do not build their own template right away but instead use one of the many templates available on the Internet and adapt it to their needs. Quite a number of templates are now available. In addition to free templates, various templates can be purchased on the Web. The templates differ not just in their design but also in their range of functions, quality, and price.
If you are considering one of these, you should look at the templates very closely. Most of them offer a whole range of functions in addition to the pure design and try to be as generic as possible to fulfill as many wishes as possible. For that reason, these templates are often very hard to adapt, because the more complex they are, the more complicated they are to change.
Now that Joomla! 2.5 has been out for a while, the number of templates offered is extensive.
Templates are managed by Joomla! in the same way as any other extension; that is, they are installed in the same way as any other extension, via the extension manager. Your template is probably in the form of a ZIP archive. You can install this archive, as is, via the extension manager. Joomla! takes care of unzipping the archive. How to create such archives yourself and which rules you need to follow are explained in Chapter 11, “The XML File and the Template Parameters.” So to install a template you go to Extensions → Extension Manager on the Install tab, as shown in Figure 8.9.
Figure 8.9. Extension manager
If the template is well formed and follows all the Joomla! guidelines, there should not be any problems in the installation, and the template should appear in the Template Manager.
Starting with version 1.6, there has been a considerable change in template handling: they are now stored in the database. In version 1.5 you were still able to simply copy templates into the Joomla! template folder. They were fully functional and automatically detected by the system. This is no longer possible, which does not necessarily mean that it is more complicated. The Extension Manager’s Discover function, shown in Figure 8.10, is available to help.
Figure 8.10. The Template Manager’s Discover function
Once you have manually inserted the template into the Joomla! template directory, go to the Extension Manager on the Discover tab. Click the Discover icon, and the system will detect your template. Check the box in front of your template and click the Install icon. It will then be listed in the Template Manager next to the default templates.
Of course, the question is why the templates are now saved in the database. Templates have, as previously mentioned, parameters: properties that can change under certain circumstances. Like the template name, these properties are also saved in the database, which in turn enables extensions such as modules or components to directly access these properties. This method of storage makes it possible to design a very flexible template.