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Templates for Joomla - Episode 1: Templates, Frameworks & Clubs or not…

Templates for Joomla - Episode 1: Templates, Frameworks & Clubs or not…

2024-JCM-April-Joomla-5-Templates

In less than 4 months, Joomla will turn 19 - and boy has it evolved into a truly powerful, very capable, yet easy to use solid and accessible young adult (and platform). Thanks to not just its vibrant community of promoters, testers, developers, documenters, marketers and helpers but also our component, module, and plugin builders that are all around - and a very appreciated part of the Joomla project. 

Unless this is your first Joomla project (and if it is, welcome!), you will also have a special place in your heart for all of the artistic minds behind these interesting, innovative, and creative templates which are often the foundation to that great website you built for yourself or just delivered to your customer.

We should not forget those that do not always get as much limelight, those teams that build the frameworks that we all rely on, or should I say, that bring to life the templates that most of us have come to use for the starting place of our websites. 

As of this writing, mid-May 2024, there are as best as can be catalogued at least 1,397 templates designed, updated, compatible or that work with Joomla 5. (1)

To say that the ecosystem is healthy is obvious but with all of this ever growing list of options which or how should you choose?

To try to answer that, we need to look a bit deeper at not just the template, its provider (developer or company) but the framework that powers the template in question…

Frameworks

There are currently 12 frameworks that are made to work with Joomla 5:

 Framework Name  Company # of Templates Discussed in Article #
 Helix Ultimate  JoomShaper 988 Episode II
 Sparky Framework  HotThemes 106 Episode III
 Astroid Framework  TemPlaza 89 Episode III
 T4 Framework  Joomlart 59 Episode III
 UIkit Framework  YooTheme 42  Episode IV
 Gavern Framework  GavickPro / JoomlArt 24  Episode IV
 Gantry Framework  RocketTheme 22  Episode IV
 T3 Framework  Joomlart 13 Episode V
 Extendible TM  Marlev 5 Episode V
 GK Framework  GavickPro / JoomlArt 3 Episode V
 YT Framework  SmartAddons 2 Episode V
 Plazart Framework  TemPlaza 2 Episode V

Current List of Joomla 5 compatible frameworks as of May 15th, 2024


In addition to all of the great frameworks above, there is one very powerful alternative for which you do not need to add anything extra to a standard Joomla 5.x installation. That is, doing everything with the core of Joomla, overrides on top of Cassiopeia template and custom fields.


Obviously, the approach is quite different from going Joomla core ( & a limited few extensions ) only vs the framework+template+extensions approach but each has its own advantages and disadvantages.

PROs and CONs of Joomla Core vs Template Frameworks

Before we dig into frameworks in greater detail, let's take a look at the pros and cons of these 2 approaches:

     Joomla 5.1 
Core
Template Frameworks
 Ease of Use 7 / 10 from 6 to 10 / 10
 Speed    Fastest Slower to Very Fast
 Accessibility (WCAG 2.1AA & ATAG 2.0)   Not all
 Compatibility 10 / 10 Varies
 Eco-friendly website build 9 / 10 from 6 to 9 / 10
 MegaMenu support X Many
 Recent FontAwesome (6.5.1) Some
 WYSIWYG Front End editing X Many
 SCSS/LESS support Some
 Requires Joomla 5 B/C plugin NO  A Few °
 Visual Page Builders with drag & drop and  
 pre-built elements / add-ons / particles
X Many
 Aligned with or Enhances Joomla Core  - at least 2 out of 12
 More, easier customizations - Most
 Build visually complex sites easily 6 / 10 from 8 to 10 / 10
 Ease of updating to a new Joomla version 10 / 10 Varies
 Easiest for non-programmers -

 ° At least, JollyAny and Astroid Framework as of May 15th, 2024 are not J5! Compatible without the B/C plugin.


As you can probably see from the table above, sticking to the Joomla Core as much as possible has great advantages in terms of speed, accessibility, compatibility, eco-conception, and ease of updating to subsequent newer versions and more…

That said, using Joomla Core only will most often require a bit more time and knowledge to be able to build out a medium to complex website and so using a Template Framework with a Page Builder will definitely make your life easier initially during the build out phase as you won’t have to code (almost) anything - you’ll simply have to use the Visual Page Builder that comes with the framework or one that you like and you’re off. This is particularly helpful if you are new to Joomla and/or use it only occasionally and/or are not a programmer.


SPECIAL NOTE

Not to get you confused but for the sake of being complete, I need to mention one more important notion:  while some Frameworks come with their own separate Visual Page Builder, most Page Builders can work very easily with any of the other frameworks so if you happen to prefer or be familiar with a particular one, you can still use it with most frameworks. i.e. SP PageBuilder on a template made with Astroid Framework, etc.

Frameworks and Page Builders

As of today, here are the J5! compatible Page Builders and corresponding Frameworks:

▵ “ The Gavern Framework originally designed for Joomla 3 (works on J4! and J5! without the need for B/C plugin) but is integrated within the template itself. It’s successor GK Framework designed for Joomla 4 & 5 (without the need for the B/C plugin) is separate from the template as a system plugin and is made to be much easier for updating and template overrides (2) “

□ From my research, these frameworks aren’t optimal for J5! due to their age, features and lack of frequent updates etc…

* In the above table, for all of those Frameworks that do not have their own Visual Page Builders, you can choose to install one of the Stand Alone Page Builders below or from another framework to build your site.

Stand Alone Page Builders


For completeness, I also came across alternative Page Builders, such as:
the TF Page Builder by techfry.com, TemplateToaster Joomla page builder (4), NicePage (4)

I hope that this has given you a bit more understanding on the topic of Joomla Core, Frameworks and Page Builders…

See you next month for a deeper conversation on the most popular of the Joomla 5 frameworks:  Helix Ultimate v2.

(1) Source: templatejoomla.com - the best directory resource for all author registered Joomla 3, 4, 5 templates.
(2) Source: joomlart.com - chat with their tech support May 2nd, 2024.
(3) This month's great article by Brian Teeman on "Content Templates: the Joomla Builder you never knew you had".
(4) These must be downloaded to your computer. TemplateToaster has native support for Windows only, Nicepage both Windows & Mac.

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