The Joomla! Extensions Directory ™

Derek Neely

byDerek Neely, January 12, 2012
So, you've started up a website, and decided you want to start selling memberships to your users. Having memberships for a site is a great way to grow a community, by not only allowing site owners a possible means of revenue, but by providing a richer and more fulfilling user experience for those who would like a deeper involvement in your site. Memberships also help to provide a sense of exclusiveness, which works dually, to make those who are already members feel special, while at the same time causing those who aren't yet, to signup and become one. The dream of being able to seamlessly integrate a professional membership system into your Joomla site has finally become a reality, thanks to the team at JoomlaXi with their creation of PayPlans.

Payplans is a professional Joomla extension which allows site owners to easily create unlimited memberships and subscriptions for their users. When taking a look at this extension, I noticed right off the bat, that unlike a lot of other extensions of this caliber, team JoomlaXi has the installer setup where everything you need, including any extra modules and system plugins come preinstalled along with the main Payplans component. I mean sure, it's not hard to separately download and install additional modules and plugins, but I find this to be a pretty cool feature to start off my experience with the extension.

After installation, you are automatically redirected to the Payplans main welcome page, where you are free to dive into it's settings and configurations. One of the first things that grabs your attention, is the clean and elegant interface which allows you to easily view a detailed diagram of all your website's sales and/or statistics, all the way down to the year, month, and even the current day. The different configurations that Payplans offer are pretty straightforward and easy. First off, the extension supplies you with a checklist of what you need to do in order to get started selling memberships on your site. You're basically instructed to create a plan or subscription, configure it to your liking and specifications, then attach a payment gateway to it.

What's great about Payplans, is that it offers support and integration for some of the most popular payment options, including 2Checkout,, and paypal. Not only that, but you are also given some basic apps with the standard version of the extension, which help you integrate other Joomla extensions into Payplans, like Docman, Joomla User Types, JomSocial MultiProfile, JoomlaXi Profile Types, and more. If you want even more apps, you can easily upgrade to Payplans Premium or Professional. Even your site users will love this extension, because unlike some of the other membership and subscription extensions out there, Payplans users have the ability of being able to review, and even print invoices of their subscriptions/plans.

One of the things which usually determine whether or not an extension gets five stars or just four, is the level of support the developers provide to their users. Luckily, team JoomlaXi's support team is very deserving of five stars their receiving from this review. If you happen to run into a problem with the extension, or any of the extensions offered by them, they are very quick to respond, and assist in resolving it for you. For users who may want a bit more information on how to use the extension, the developers have provided very straight forward documentation on their site to help with whatever it is that you need.

Is your site geared towards social networking? If so, owners of the popular JomSocial extension will be happy to discover that Payplans seamless integrates into Jomsocial's registration system, allowing new members to select their plans/subscriptions right at signup. As of right now, there doesn't seem to be any support for the Community Builder extension, although you can likely look forward to it being supported in future versions. For those running sites not geared towards social networks, Payplans offers two other methods for registration. Quick registration, which is basically Payplans own dedicated registration process, and integration of the normal Joomla registration process.

A great deal of the time, when an extension is installed on a site, it conflicts with the current template, or just doesn't look good the way it is, leaving site owners having to resort to messing around with the css and styling. Fortunately, Payplans is just as sleek, as it is powerful, giving you the combination of looks, and flexibility at the same time. In a nutshell, the team at JoomlaXi has done a very good job with this extension. It's automated system allows site owners the ability and freedom to sit back and earn revenue, giving them ease of mind, a fatter wallet, and allows them concern themselves with other more important aspects of their website.
byDerek Neely, January 3, 2012
In today's online world, any respectable website which plans to offer a means of communication for their members, is likely to go the route of having forums. Forums are a great way for your members to interact with each other, while providing them at the same time, an incentive to come back to the site, which brings in more traffic. Fortunately, the Kunena team has provided Joomla users with a great forum solution which is currently being used on thousands of websites since the time of it's launch.

Kunena is the leading, and most popular forum component for Joomla. At a glance, this component offers site owners all the premium features that you would expect from any commercial forum software. Installation of the component couldn't be any easier with it's speedy automated installer. Upon installation you are quickly redirected to the main Kunena configuration panel, which displays for you all the features and settings you need in order to setup and customize the forum system to your liking.

One of Kunena's most notable features is the perfect and seamless integration into your Joomla system. Gone are the days when your users had to login to your site, and afterwards, do a separate login to access the forums. Once you are logged into your Joomla site, you are automatically logged into the forums, and vice versa. To top things off, you can visit the Kunena website and check out the KED (Kunena Extensions Directory) and download additional addons to extend Kunena more than it already is.

The guys at Kunena didn't forget about the social networking fans either. If you have the popular JomSocial or Community Builder component in your extension arsenal, Kunena offers complete and seamless integration into both extensions. If you choose to integrate your forums with JomSocial, whenever a member of your site makes a post in the forums, a quick snippet will appear in the JomSocial activity stream for all your site members to see.

Kunena also has a type of karma and thank you system, which lets users reward each other with points and recognition for making great or helpful post. In the case that you're are looking for a more sophisticated standalone solution, support and integration is offered for the popular referral user points system AlphaUserPoints, which awards your members points for posting on the forums.

One of the best things about Kunena is that its a community driven extension, which means it offers excellent support, and will likely be around for a very long time. In the case that you do run into a problem, the support team is usually very prompt in responding and assisting in getting it resolved. The developers also update the extension rather frequently, so it's security is top notch, and bugs are quickly fixed with each release.

In the end, Kunena ranks as a top notch forum component for Joomla users. With excellent premium features, perfect integration into other popular extensions, great security, outstanding support, frequent updates, and a non-existent price tag, its no wonder why Kunena is the best forum solution for Joomla to date.
byDerek Neely, November 17, 2011
1 of 1 people found this review helpful
Looking for a blogging solution for Joomla but not sure which one to get? Life throws you enough problems, and finding a perfect blogging solution for your site should not be one of them. If you want an elegant, robust, feature packed, yet very easy to use blogging solution for your members, then EasyBlog is perfect for you.

When you take the time to look at all the features that come packed within EasyBlog, and begin using it, you'll likely have one of those "Where have you been all my life?" experiences and never want to go back to any other blogging extension out there. One of the most notable shining points about EasyBlog is the customization and control it gives it's users. EasyBlog puts you in control of every aspect of your blog, and seamlessly integrates with the rest of your Joomla site.

For me, I was sold on it when I witnessed the perfect integration of EasyBlog into not only my Jomsocial network, but Alpha User Points component as well. If that doesn't put the icing on the cake, it offers integrations into Facebook comments, Intense Debate, Disqus, Jomcomment, Jcomments, RSComments, and the list goes on. If I were to list all of EasyBlog's amazing features, this review would likely be pages long, so I'll save some hidden treasures for you to discover yourself.

If social networking your thing, the EasyBlog guys have you covered. Amazingly enough, they've squeezed into EasyBlog many of the top social networking integrations that every website needs to keep growing, like Twitter, Facebook, Google, Digg, LinkedIn, Stumble Upon, and more. If that doesn't bring out your inner geek, EasyBlog even allows you to blog remotely, and supports TweetMeme integration. Need I say more?

Sure, there are great extensions out there, but we've all come across an extension or two, whose support left much to be desired. Having good support for an extension can make it, or break it for website owners who are trying to use their software. Fortunately, the EasyBlog support team has not let us down. In the very rare chance that you do have a problem with EasyBlog, their professional support team will quickly get your problem solved, and work with you to make sure your experience with their product is as enjoyable as can be.

Not only is EasyBlog packed full of features, integrations, and a amazing support team, but unlike the majority of other extensions that take some getting use to and setup time, I was able to start using EasyBlog within only five minutes of having installed it. Looking back on everything and my experience with this nifty piece of software, I would have to say that it's won first place in my extension arsenal, because it not only lives up to it's title of being an easy blog, but offers so much more.