Most of us are already very experienced with Joomla! so as not to require any help building our own sites. Listening to the client's objectives we can intuitively translate their needs to extensions and potential set-ups. This knowledge comes from years of experience in doing this kind of work. However, this isn't always the case with those who are fresh to the world of the Joomla! CMS. What they need is some guidance or, if you'd like, a way to “seed” their brains with adequate ideas to get them started. I was recently reading Packt Publishing's new book, “Joomla! 1.5 Site Blueprints”, which seems to fit nicely this bill.

Ideally, we should all be born knowing everything about anything. Unfortunately, this statement couldn't be farthest from the reality. All we have is our eagerness to explore the potential of new tools and learn by experimentation. This is a very nice way of learning if you have all the time in the world, but it's certainly out of the question if you want to use your yet-to-be-found knowledge to pay your bills. What you need in that case is inspiration, i.e. some real world examples which can boot your imagination.

This is what the “Joomla! 1.5 Site Blueprints” from Packt Publishing is. Inspiration for the new users. However, I should not that new users doesn't mean complete newbies. If you have never used Joomla! before this book is not for you, as it assumes that you are already familiar with the basic management and administration tasks. If you are somewhat experienced with Joomla! and you already know how to set-up and combine some of the most common extensions, this book isn't for you either. If you are the kind of new user who can get around basic Joomla! functionality but has no idea where to go from there, this book will be the perfect fit for you.

Unlike other books which focus on how things work, Site Blueprints follows a “How To” approach for building particular kinds of web sites. You will learn how to create a basic company, aficionado's, newspaper, events, community, e-commerce, directory, photo sharing, google map and news aggregation site. These sites range from trivial to mildly complex. Each kind of site uses only 1-2 extensions besides the core Joomla! CMS and demonstrates my favourite approach to site building: “Less is more”. You don't really need to install a gazillion extensions to make a site tick and author Timi Ogunjobi seems to stick to this approach throughout the book.

The language of the book is very easy to follow and will not trouble non-native English speakers. All the procedures to building each kind of site are presented step-by-step and illustrated, showing not only the steps required but the intermediate result on your site as well. This is a very good way for new users to develop an intuitive understanding of the changes made to their sites when they tweak several options. My only woe is that the chapters are maybe a little too concise, as they don't clearly explain the site builder's objectives before starting demonstrating what to do. You have to read through an entire chapter to figure out what the specifications of the built site might have been. This is unintuitive, as in real life it's the other way around: you define the specifications with the client, think about the implementation details, validate any necessary changes with the client and then start building.

All and all I consider this book a valuable resource for new users who have a basic understanding of the Joomla! CMS and want to expand their knowledge into building more complex, real world sites. At $39.99, the price tag for this 240-pages book is a bit expensive compared to other PacktPub's titles, but if you're a professional or building a for-profit web site I'm sure its return of investment will be very high.

Disclaimer: As with all other book reviews in my site, I was given a free copy from the publisher to read and publish my opinion about it. I don't get paid for reviews and I won't write a review that's not 100% consistent with my honest opinion about the book I've read.

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