Plugins are those bits of code that can enhance a feature, add a feature, or even change WordPress into say a Forum. Whether its a simple widget or heavy change in WordPress, they are all called plugins. WordPress has a massive library of plugins (again with no name except Add Plugin). These plugins can be installed and updated directly from the library. The one caveat I found in this library is that its not at all organized. You can not sort the plugins by number of views, ratings, multiple tags, compatibility, date, or even fine tune or sort a search. The plugins themselves are poorly displayed with a lot of tabs (that should really be in the developer’s homepage) and no dedicated Demo button. Many plugins (like sliders) require changes to the template.
Extensions are the collective of Modules, Plugins and Components.
- A Component is a big change to the Joomla! core. It has it’s own menu inside Components or may even have it outside as well as change the interface completely. A Component can and usually does bundle with Module and Plugin as well. Community Builder is a component (as well as having many modules and plugins)
- A Plugin is an extension that enhances a feature – for instance JCE would allow the change of editor.
- A Module is an extension that displays a picture, video, or other content in a specific position much like a widget in WordPress.
There are a few ways you can install an extension
Using Install from Web (temporarily not available since release of 3.4 – post will be updated when its back online)
Upload a package – most cumbersome way of it all. Download and then upload a zip file.
Install from directory – if you upload it or is already available in your website, you can easily point to it and Joomla will scan the directory and install the file.
Install from URL – this is currently the best option, just copy and paste the URL – click Install and your good to go.
Note: The organization in the Joomla Extensions Directory (JED) blows away WordPress’ Plugin gallery. Everything is searchable and each search can be refined and filtered, there are dedicated buttons for demo/support/documentation/download, the user rating is not just in stars but a circular chart with percentage, there is user feedback.
WordPress plugins and Joomla extensions are not the same and cannot be compared in the same way. I would like to give this to Joomla due to its beautifully structured JED, but I am sure there is a similar plugin for every extension and vice versa…even if I couldn’t find in WordPress what I wanted. Usually a single extension in Joomla requires 3 or four in WordPress to come close to similar.