jed searchIn a previous post, I covered the Joomla! Extensions Directory (JED) to some degree, highlighting why the JED makes sense for both developer and user. In this post, I intend to go through some ways in which a Jooma! website owner can take full advantage of the JED’s various elements in order to make appropriate decisions about what extensions to install on the website.

Directly search specific extension

The JED has a pretty useful search engine built in, so if you know the specific extensions you want to install for your Joomla website, this is your first port of call. Not only does it work if you have the exact name of the extension, but it also allows you to narrow down your search parameters by extension type (component or plugin or module), the version(s) of Joomla you need compatibility with, whether it is a free extension or a paid one, and whether it has a demo so that you can see it in action before installing it. The resulting extensions can even be sorted using various criteria (alphabetically, by date of update, rating etc.) albeit only by a single criterion at any time. However, the search engine is not the smartest one around (for example, it will not recognise ‘multifactor’ if you meant ‘multi factor’), so you may need to slightly tweak your keywords now and then.

Browse by category

If you don’t know which Joomla extension(s) you want by name (or by any other distinguishing factor e.g. developer), the extensions are also listed in the JED according to various categories. In practice, this actually just pre-filters the extensions by a specific category (which can then be further narrowed down by using the above search parameters and sorted). Alternatively, you can browse the top rated extensions, those that were reviewed the most times, and extensions that were recently submitted.

Deciphering the extension entry

The JED is a database, and so various metrics can be (and are) stored and processed. You can use some of the information displayed to give you a better understanding of whether this extension is for you or not. Some information that could be of key value to you are the reviews, the date the extension was last updated, and whether it is a free or paid/commercial extension.

Reviews give you an idea of whether a given Joomla extension even works (and whether it is likely to work across a wide range of installations), as well as provide some historical insights. It can also indicate whether the developer is inclined to listen to its users or not. So reviews can be a primary source of information on the extension. An extension that is frequently updated will show up closer to the front/top when people search (and sort) by ‘last update date’. And by comparing free extensions to paid ones, you can tell which ones give you better value.

Here’s an example of how you can use the information presented to your advantage. Digital Peak’s DPCalendar Lite and DPCalendar Joomla extensions have separate listings (as one is free and the other is paid). We do not provide free support for our Lite offering, so you can imagine that we will get some negative reviews on this matter, as indeed we did. However, the reviews for our paid extension are uniformly (and glowingly) positive – which stands to reason, because our support for our paid users is top-notch and we spare no expenses in drilling down to the problem(s) they may be facing.

How was it in the past

As I posted my first extension in the JED (the successor of DPCalendar -> GCalendar) you could just brows the JED and the ratings have been numbers between 1 and 5. The people appreciated the work of volunteers and posted mostly positive reviews to express the work of the developers. Everything was more relaxed than it is nowadays. As developer you felt motivated to publish your stuff for free.

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