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Filter Media News

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Outstanding Web Design and Development


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    Integrating Joomla, Community Builder and aMember Pro

    Recently, I was approached to take on a project because of my expertise with integrating Joomla and aMember Pro. aMember Pro is a payments and subscription module that can integrate into a variety of content management systems, including Joomla. I've had years of experience working with these two pieces of software for a non-profit that I was able to call upon for this particular job.

    New to the mix this time would be the addition of the Community Builder add-on module for Joomla. Community Builder is a fairly large and well known add-on for Joomla that turns Joomla into a community driven content site by adding new features and integrating into Joomla's registration system.

    And therein lies the problem. aMember Pro also integrates into Joomla's registration system. This provided a few additional challenges to getting everything playing nicely.

    One additional monkey wrench thrown into the mix was the hosting provider. This particular client uses GoDaddy to host their virtual server and not everything is as straightforward on GoDaddy as it is on Filter Media's hosting servers.

    It took a few extra days to resolve some of the hosting-related issues before I could get to the actual installation of Joomla. While many hosting providers, GoDaddy included, provide easy one-click installs of popular software packages like Joomla, they're not often the most current versions. Because the client wanted to be as up-to-date as possible, I decided to manually install Joomla 1.5.X. This is a pretty straightforward procedure, but it does require you to know your way around file/directory permissions and MySQL, since you need to set up the database tables and access ahead of the install.

    After installing Joomla and securing it, the next step was to get the Community Builder module installed. I downloaded the latest stable version, 1.2.3 and the install into Joomla was pretty straightforward. Again, there were permission issues that had to be resolved and some knowledge of MySQL was required, but all-in-all, the install went smoothly.

    The third step, installing aMember Pro, is where I earned my keep. aMember Pro is a great payments processing package but it can be a real pain in the behind to properly integrate into a CMS like Joomla. Having been down this road before, I fully expected some back and forth with their tech support staff to resolve any issues. Since they're a European-based company, any exchange with their tech support used to involve delays of eight hours or more, due to the time zone differences. Thankfully, they've seen fit to add some U.S.-based tech support, which helps cut down the response time.

    In addition to the aMember Pro package, the client also purchased the plugin specific to Joomla. This is an additional $40 add-on that tightly integrates the log-in and registration process between Joomla and aMember Pro. It's an invaluable piece of software, but can be tricky to get integrated.

    For this project, I had to rely on an alpha plug-in specific to Community Builder. Since CB "takes over" the Joomla registration process, the regular aMember/Joomla integration plug-in would not work. Working with this plug-in was new for me, and required some time troubleshooting various issues that cropped up, mainly with XML-RPC access and some MySQL integration issues.

    Having had experience with aMember Pro, I knew when to stop reading FAQs and Googling for answers and to just contact their tech support. Their tech people resolved two issues with the plug-in, one with getting it to install properly, and the other with getting it to play nicely with the proper tables in MySQL.

    I love working on projects that draw on my unique knowledge and this one definitely fit that bill. My extensive experience with Joomla and aMember Pro was hard-won trial-and-error type of experience that's simply invaluable in situations like this. It was nice to be able to leverage that for a client and to expand upon it at the same time by throwing Community Builder into the mix.

    Since the client was very happy with the work done, I expect I'll be leveraging more of my aMember Pro experience to get it fully integrated into the Joomla-driven site's templates and workflow. It's another area of aMember that can be very daunting to the inexperienced.

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