Choosing which modules to use for your Xoops. - Edited Jan 2007
One of the tricky things about Xoops for new users is deciding which modules you want to include for your Xoops site. It seems simple enough, but there are many choices and a number of traps to watch out for. It all comes down to doing your research first.
Before I go further let’s look at the current state of development. Xoops 2.0.16 is the recommended version as I update this FAQ. Some are using the 2.2 version of Xoops and selecting modules for this version is a bit trickier. If you are a new xoopser, or a xoopser who is not comfortable with php, Xoops code etc then I recommend you stick with 2.0 versions of Xoops until otherwise advised by core developers.
This means you select modules that indicate Xoops.2.0 as the platform. If the information on a module says 2.2 and you are using 2.0 or vice versa, doing this bit of research is really important.
That being said now we need to look at how to make a good choice for your Xoops website modules. You can experiment by downloading and installing – trial and error – and you just may end up very frustrated!
You can do some research first and have some very smooth sailing. So…let’s do some research.
First of all lets look at the Module repository. This has been closed to the submission of new modules for quite some time. This means anything you select from here could have a more recent release or is sitting there begging for someone to come along and upadte it's development. However, if you choose o browse through this collection you need to take a look at the information that comes with the module title. (The will be a new module repository like this in the future of xoops - it is just not ready yet.) In the section below I describe how to get the most from this module repository.
So - where are the modules released today? Basically all new modules released are announce in the Module category of Xoops News. Take the link here.
Now these are organised by relase date so you can click through the pages. This is time consuming - you are better to do a search of xoops through xoops search or Google search. Use key terms from the functions you are after - for example if you want a news module use 'news' as a keyword. If you are after an image gallery try 'gallery'. You can also browse the topics in the forums for recomended modules and discussions on modules xoopsers are currently using. Once you have a module you might try check the details provided by the developer. Look for the same information as is mentioned below to be well armed about what it does, how to install it and how to use it. Using the old module repository
Take the link and have a look at the setup. You can browse by alphabetical listing which is great if you already know what you are looking for. This is useful when you have read discussions of a module on the forums.
Alternatively you can search by category. These are based on the function of the module. The function of the module is the first criteria you need to look for.
Let’s say we want an image gallery module. Click on the Image Gallery Category. There are 6 to choose from so now how do you know which one will be best for you?
First let’s consider the information provided for us.
A good and useful module will have the following information:
1.Uploaded by a Xoops member. Click on their name and see what their details are. Some are webmasters or core developers which could suggest they have used and approved the module themselves. Others will be those who jump in and have a go at building a module for the community. No matter who it is, if you can contact them and find out if they are still working on or using the module then you know you are going to get support. If you can’t reach them or get no response from them then the module may be as developed as it is ever going to be.
2.Recently updated (Up until the repository was locked due to hacking issues in 2005) The last posted update was a key as to how old the module is – but you now need to rely on the comments since newer versions of modules cannot currently be uploaded by the general public.
3.Contain a useful description of what it does. You can’t compare the pro’s and cons of a module that does the same job if the module writer hasn’t given you a clear description of the way a module works.
4.Version Number: The higher the number the more times it has been reviewed and updated
5.Downloads: Indicates how many have downloaded only – not how many are successfully using it.
6.File size – useful information but doesn’t help much with deciding on which module to select.
7.Home Page – this is an important link to a web page where the module may be found in use, where the module writer comes from etc. This is another way of checking on the current status of a module. It also often provides a place where you can find a support forum for the specific module.
8.Rating: This is user dependent – but it is still an indication of how users who bother to rate the module have found it.
9.Reviews: This is also user dependent and if users don’t bother to come back to write anything then the rest of the community have little to go on. It appears though that if users really like something they will come back and review it.
10.Price should always be free for Xoops users
11.Platform – this refers to the version of Xoops it was built for. If it is 2.0. then it will suit our Xoops 2.0.13. However it may not be suitable for 2.2 versions so watch this. If the information is not given then don’t touch it unless you are prepared to experiment with a trial and error approach.
12.Licence – should be listed as GPL
13.Limitations – if there are any they should be listed.
14.Comments: Here is where you will really be able to research some feedback on a module. There will be bugs, fixes, thankyou’s etc. Before you download any module for use you should check these comments. Being forewarned is being forearmed.
Ok…still thinking a specific module might be worth downloading? Or perhaps you are thinking maybe not. It’s time to click on ‘view full details’. Here you should find a more detailed description of the module, it’s features, the system requirements and it’s history. The more information there is here the more well developed the module is.
So where does all this research bring us to? Well if you consider Magalerie 1.8 you will see that it’s last update was in 2004 and it is very light on for details. Click on View full details and it isn’t much better. Then read some comments and your warning signals should be complete – unless someone works on this to bring it up to date and working you should stay away from it.
Compare this to Myalbum-P. There is a lot more information and the comments thread includes some issues for usage, links to help and comments from the current year. This is one module that is in current use by lots of people – so it is a very safe option. Reading these comments is essential as they include links to more recent versions of the module.
What next? Do a search on Xoops.org using the modules name and read what others have had to say – there could be simple installation or module administration questions posted and answered in the forums. This once again will possibly give you information about what to expect and what could go wrong. Often – as with our examples the question is ‘which image gallery is the best’ and discussions of the pros and cons of modules often occur in the forum on modules. A search on a module name should bring up a discussion like this if there has been one.
So…you have done your research!
Well go ahead and download the module of choice. Unzip the files and check for a ‘read me’ document. This, or something like it, should contain some basic installation instructions. If it doesn’t then the module developer needs a smack on the hand. Most modules follow the exact same procedure for uploading and installation but sometimes there may be a variation or two. The other thing the read me doc should have is a background on the module and it’s development to the current version.
Once you have installed and used the module please do the module developer the courtesy of a bit of feedback.
Hope this helps!
Edit: Feb 21: the site below is now closed:
PS: You can 'play before you download'!
If you want to save yourself some time without damaging your own site go and play in the Modules playground
This excellent site gives you the opportunity to see how modules work before you spend the time downloading and installing them. But the good news is that a team is working on a new modules playground! See comment by Anna below.