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Getting back to Joomla!

Now that Videobox RC has been released for MODX, I'm looking for the best way to make a new Joomla! Videobox extension. Unfortunately that's not an easy task. Obviously the first thing Videobox is supposed to do is to let people insert video content anywhere on the page - inside an article, in the product description, as a page header, ... and the second thing is to be easily customizable.

It's easy to do this on MODX using snippets - they can be inserted anywhere, it's easy to template them with some basic HTML knowledge, and they have property sets so users can define and override any custom parameters using GUI. All in all, it's a familiar and simple approach. On Joomla!, that's a much harder task. While Joomla! modules have a nice and familiar GUI and (somewhat) easy-to-customize templates, they can only be inserted in a specific place on the website, and it takes a lot of work to get a module to show up only on a specific page. On the other hand, system plugins can insert content anywhere on the page, but they don't work well with Joomla! templates, and a single plugin can't have more than one configuration.

Joomla! recently did a step in the right direction by integrating the Load Modules plugin. I got my hopes up when this feature has been announced, but I was let down just as much when I saw it in action - it's no better (and in many ways actually far worse) than several third-party plugins. It only works with com_content, and it can only insert either a plain module without any user configuration, or act as another template placeholder for modules; far from ideal when you're trying to add a different video on each page, such as videos for store products.

As I can't force users to install third-party plugins (and the default plugin sucks), not to mention the problems which would arise if everyone used a different plugin to integrate modules in the content, I'm going to stick with a system plugin and try to make it as user-friendly as possible. Hopefully it'll turn out better than the old versions.