Today, someone asked me if there was a way to pre-load extensions and common settings in a Joomla! site. As a matter of fact, there’s a very simple and logical way to do that. It’s a method I’ve been using for quite a while now, which has sped up the creation of new websites.
This guide will teach you how to create your own ‘site template’ – or distribution, as you wish. In order for this to work, you’ll need the following:
- A development environment to develop and maintain your preloaded “Installer”.
- Akeeba Backup, Core or Professional.
- Akeeba Kickstart.
Create your website
The first step is to create a new Joomla! website in your development environment. I’ll leave it up to you what version you want to use. This guide applies to any version of Joomla! and it’s distributions where you can install Akeeba Backup.
Once your website is created, install the extensions you want to preload. I can’t give you any advice here, as you might have other preferred extensions than I do. I’d suggest only installing the extenions you use 9 out of 10 times. Extensions that don’t match this “requirement” are just bloat and can easily be installed afterwards.
The extension you MUST install – Akeeba Backup
There is one extension you absolutely need to install, and that’s Akeeba Backup. You can choose to use the core version, but if you’re reading this guide I assume you regularly create websites. In that case, you’re better off with the Professional version.
You need this extensions to create the “installation files” we’ll use later on. And, just in case you didn’t know: you ALWAYS need to make back-ups of your sites!
Create the “preloaded installation”.
Once you’ve got the site setup to your liking, it’s time to create the “installation file” we’ll use later. To do this, use Akeeba Backup to create a back-up of the file.
Save the back-up file in a folder. For example, I put it in a folder called “QuickJoomla Installer” – it’s the name of my distribution.
Maintaining your ‘preloaded installation’.
While your ‘source site’ might be perfect at first, that will change over time. Don’t forget to keep this site up to date with the latest Joomla! versions, or the latest version of your favorite extensions. Apply techniques you learned over time, create users you need, find some good sample templates… show this site some love. Every minute you invest in this site, equals 10x as much time saved afterwards!
Download Akeeba Kickstart
Next, download Akeeba Kickstart, and open the file. Copy the following files:
- The language file you’re planning to use. The other language files can be disposed – as you won’t use them anyway.
Take these files, and put them in the folder with the back-up file. Your installation package is now already complete. Pretty easy so far, right?
Deploying your preloaded site
When you need to deploy your preloaded site, don’t reach for the standard Joomla! package. You’ll use your own, custom package instead! Upload the files in your folder. Since you won’t be uploading a billion files, you’ll already save a lot of time here.
Once the files are uploaded or copied, navigate to the site, using the following URL:
Since you can never be to sure: Don’t copy the URL above! Replace it with the path to where you uploaded your files instead! But make sure to end with kickstart.php
Use kickstart to unpack & then install
Use Kickstart to unpack the files, and then follow the Akeeba Installation Wizard. This will help you to quickly install the website. You should have no problems following the steps in the Wizard – if you do run into problems, head out to the Akeeba Site. Read the manual first, THEN ask for support in the forum. The Akeeba developer is some sort of psychic, he’ll know when you didn’t read the manual.
Once this is done, you’ll see that your pre-loaded site is installed – waiting to be finished by you. I hope you’ll save a lot of time using this method. If you do, leave a comment here, leave a comment. But don’t forget the @akeebabackup developer, too. Donate some €$£ for a beer or something, or buy a subscription.
4 thoughts on “Preload your Joomla! site with extensions and settings”
Steven, another great post.
I am one of those that always manually installs due to clients requirements, but I am seeing more need for my own custom distribution, which is typically void of any Joomla content in favour of K2 and my fav plugins and modules, custom K2 template and cat layouts.
There are many guides available on how to do the same thing, but in a much more long winded and time consuming way.
Using Akeeba to do this is a god send and you are absolutely right, spend time in getting your most used components and content right first, it will save time later.
Thanks. I guess it depends on how “customized” each install is. But even when there’s only a few components / extensions your installs have in common, this method will *still* save you time.
Glad you liked the post!
Right! What @Simon said – this is a great method for replicating Joomla sites! I’ve been looking to do something similar (prepare a custom ‘distro’) for a while now but I didn’t want another site to maintain.
I was thinking I might try this with JMS Multisite component (which I can’t say enough good stuff about), but your strategy seems pretty efficient.
Great buncha Joomla articles on your site too! Keep it up!
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