I have had the pleasure of reading Hagen Graf's book, Building Websites with Joomla 1.5, no the first version of the book, which was for the RC1, but the latest one based on the Final 1.5 Joomla! release.
Note, Joomla is now on 3.6 and you can get that book from Amazon here. Joomla! 3.0 in 10 Easy Steps
As you might have guessed, I am not new to Joomla, and I have also worked with Joomla 1.5 as well.
But if you want a manual to go with Joomla 1.5 you should really get this book.
If you look at the chapters in the book, you will see a clear path to where you want to go, getting your Joomla 1,5 site installed and ready.
A Short Chapter overview
The book starts with a Chapter called Terms, Concepts, and Deliberations, and here you will read some things about the History and Changes if the different versions of Joomla!.
For me a chapter that you might want to skip though as it will bring you some knowledge on Joomla development, but does it really bring you something in terms of building knowledge? No, don't think so.
The examples on the last pages are nice to look at, just to see how different Joomla sites can evolve.
In Chapter Two you get the basic installation with XAMPP on your local pc if you want to, and some tips on how to install it on a hosting platform of your choice.
(You might want to consider using basic hosting on (l)Unix servers instead of Windows servers)
Joomla installation is not that hard, and what is described with screenshots as well pretty much covers what you need to know to get your Joomla site running.
I think it is also a good idea to put more information in this chapter on how to check and solve Read and Write access if you are on a hosting platform.
TIP. if you are done with your site, Check your System menu and you will find a Tab there that will show you what you still have to change.
In Chapters 3 till 12 that is where the real meat is!
Ranging from A tour, through Customizing Joomla, Configuration and Administration you go to the chapters that can help you best.
- 6 – Site Menu
- 7 – Menus Menu
- 8 – Content Menu (including article writing and categories)
- 9 – Components Menu.
- 10 – Extensions Menu
- 11 – Tools
- 12 – More on Extensions (with some great components and how to install and use them)
In all these chapters you get clear information on how to get more out of Joomla! site in a well written and easy to understand way.
As for his advice on SEO setting in the Global Configuration for Meta descriptions and keywords, I suggest you might want to read more on this site because here I don't agree with Hagen…
In Chapter 8 he writes about the robots field in your article, here he does not understand the field, as he mentioned you should enter the words for robots, but those go into the keywords field.
In the robots field, there should be values like, follow, index or nofollow, noindex or any other option you would like the Search Engine Robot to do with your article.
In Chapters 13 and 14, there is a lot of information on how to create your own Joomla template and how to make your site better for more visually challenged visitors.
For these and chapter 15, on Your own Components, Modules, and Plugins you really need to have some experience with HTML and PHP to go through the process described.
They are nice introductions to the subject and might interest you in reading more on these subjects.
A Website with Joomla!
In Chapter 16, Hagen takes you on a trip from Idea to realization of the website for the Winery for the Bertrand family.
Here you can read more about the whole process of building the site from a non- to a semi-technical way of getting started with a Joomla website.
This is fun reading! You see how the site grows and what decisions are to be made in the process.
Chapter 17 is just a short introduction on other templates and the appendixes are also more technical.
Appendix E, Forgot the Admin Password shows you how to fix that on a MySQL Database level.
Appendix F gives you some information on how to migrate from 1.0.x to Joomla! 1.5.x
This book Building Websites with Joomla! 1.5 is great for getting to know Joomla 1.5 from the ground up.
It is more than a Beginners guide, some webmasters that are used to Joomla 1.0.x will find more detailed information on the differences between Joomla 1.5 and 1.0.
Is it worth the money? I think so, you can read it as it is, or you use it as a base reference.
For me? It is definitely a book I keep close at hand for reference and on my desktop as I develop more Joomla! 1.5 websites.