Normal Joomla operation requires a valid user to enter their username and password to get past the offline template page. Logging in prevents testing of guest functionality on your site. So your choice to take your site offline for development or testing actually prevents an entire segment of test cases - the guests (unregistered visitors)! For many of us, guest functionality is as important as functionality for registered users because, how are we to woo the guests unless we give them a great experience?
The Offline plugin provides a similar functionality as is found in my AdminExile extension. An administrator can set the site in offline mode inside Joomla Global Configuration, and enable this plugin to grant login-free access to the site. Browse the site as a guest (or login) - while still in offline mode.
I wrote it so I could demo custom authentication systems to a client - while remaining in offline mode. This allowed them to see the site as a guest, and login as a user would login using the various authentication methods available. Additionally, they could log in and out of the system at will - without seeing the offline page unless they ended their session (closed the browser).
Configuration is easy.
1. Enable the plugin
2. Set a key
3. Copy the URL displayed above the key and paste it into your browser address bar.
When you're ready to take your site live, the plugin won't interfere. Of course, you should disable it to preserve system resources, but it takes its operating parameters from Joomla configuration itself. When Joomla is set to offline mode, the plugin will operate. When it's not in offline mode, the plugin exits as early as possible to release resources.
All of my extensions are free and none of my extensions display advertisements or links to my sites or services. If you feel that I have blessed you, then you can bless me by making a contribution to fund future development. Visit the "Website" link to make a contribution.