I’ve spent a fair bit of time lately modifying websites.  I run several websites: Flies and Bikes (which you’re reading now), my cycling club’s website, the Oriel Cell Senescence conference website, and a simpler html-based website for the defunct cycling club Northwood Wheelers

The first three sites use the Joomla!* content management system, which I find to be very flexible and with plenty of useful add-ons.

Back in August, I tried to update Flies and Bikes from a pre-release version of Joomla! 1.5.  This was due to some vulnerabilities identified in the earlier versions of Joomla! 1.5.  This proved to be somewhat problematic as it required an upgrade of the database that underpins the website. This went a bit tits up, and I ended up manually recovering the stories from a backed up copy of the database.  In the end though, I rebuilt it better than before. Well, I like to think so!

This alerted me to the issue of outdated websites – the cycling club site was running on Joomla! 1.0.13, and the 1.0 series was beginning to look a little unsupported.  I figured this might be even more problematic, and scheduled this as a Christmas holiday project.  In the meantime, I was playing around with an anti-phorm plug-in for the Flies & Bikes website.  You may see a banner under the header image if you’re using BT as an ISP – this is the plug-in working.  I was testing it at the Cell Senescence website, and I was therefore popping in and out of that site as I worked with the plug-in developer to get it working on Joomla! 1.5.  A couple of weeks ago,  I noticed some (presumably Turkish) script-kiddie has taken advantage of a security exploit in the version of Joomla! being used for that site – s/he’d edited the index.php to do a redirect to a load and brash Turkish hacker site, and changed the admin login password.  This didn’t take too long to fix, and I can’t detect any ongoing issues – but if anyone gets an AV alert when visiting the site, please leave a comment.

This prompted me to look seriously at my bike club website, which seemed a bit vulnerable to me, seeing it was still running on Joomla! 1.0.13.   I did a bit of looking around and conducted a few experiments (during which I played around with one of the default templates that comes with Joomla! 1.5).  In the end, it all went pretty smoothly, following these steps (some additions to the details here):

Because I couldn’t find a verison of the Joomlaboard forum for Joomla! 1.5, I upgraded to Fireboard.  I then exported the fireboard tables (jos_fb*) from the database using phpMyAdmin.  I did this through my hosting company’s account control page.  These were saved to a local drive.  There are often issues to to with importing sql data where the file size exceeds 2Mb – this problem cropped up during my trial upgrades on a local drive – I saved these tables in four files.  You also need to save fireboard_config.php from administrator/components/com_fireboard.

I backed up the entire site, using the Joomlapack component.

I used the migrator script to convert the main table of the 1.0.13 site to the correct format (this doesn’t include tables for Fireboard, which is why those tables were saved separately) – the converted database was stored on a local drive.

The, I deleted the Joomla! files on the server, and uploaded the unzipped files from Joomla! 1.5.8.

Joomla! 1.5.8 was then installed as per the (very easy to follow) installation screens and instructions.  During this process, you get presented with the options to import data to the database – I selected the saved migrated database.

Then I installed a number of basic components, including Fireboard. To transfer the old forum postings (from the exported sql tables), the following steps were taken.  First I deleted the jos_fb* tables from the new database, and imported the saved fireboard tables.  I copied over the saved fireboard_config.php file.

At this point the website was fully functional.  I’ve added a number of plugins, components and modules, the most useful of which are the following (in no particular order):

Community Builder –  allows a lot of fine tuning to user management, and very worthwhile.  some of the plugins are not yet ported to Joomla! 1.5, but the number is growing, and  i keep finding new ones!  Very highly recommended.

eXtplorer –  a fine file management component, which is accessed from the admin backend account.

Fireboard – an excellent and highly configurable forum component.

Joomlapack

My bike club members require image gallery facilities.  I’ve installed the Simple Image Gallery plugin, which allows easy incorporation of images in articles.  very easy to use, and generates thumbnails on the fly.   Joomgallery is a neat way of allowing users to upload their images themselves to a gallery, while Picaweb is a neat component/module for incorporating picasaweb galleries.

Shoutbox is a neat little module that allows users to communicate a bit like instant messaging.

Plugin Google Maps  allows integration of google maps into articles.  This is quite useful for displaying GPS traces of members’ bike rides.  The GPS files are converted to kml format and uploaded to the server.  You ca
n also use it to link directly to Google Maps.  The syntax is a little fiddly, but the developer’s website has loads of useful stuff.

 

*Yes!, that! exclamation! mark! is! a! little! bit! irritating!