Thursday, October 19, 2017

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A program that produces
incorrect results twice as fast
is infinitely slower.

 
             

INTRODUCTION

Like the similarly named Joomla core module on which it is based, Latest News (EM) displays the headlines of recent content items; and those headlines link to the items. 

However, Latest News (EM) adds parameters that control what ItemIDs (menu-items) will be specified in those links.  This is useful in several circumstances, and especially vital when placing Latest News on the front page of a website.

Here are two examples of problems that you might have with the standard Joomla Latest News module.  Latest News (EM) solves them.  Once you understand these examples, you can probably think of additional ways to use the module.


APPLICATION #1:  "You are not authorized..."

When you click a Latest News headline, you are told that you are not authorized to see the article, even though you are.

THE CAUSE:

Suppose that there is more than one way that an article can be reached via your menus. And suppose that some of the paths go through menu-items having different permissions.  For example, you might might have a public category-blog menu-item for readers, but also have a private category-table menu-item for editors and publishers.  

When Joomla isn't sure which menu-item Latest News should use to show the article, it will choose one ItemID from among all the ways that the article could have been reached.  Often the link will specify an ItemID unanticipated by you.

When the links to your public articles are assigned the ItemIDs of private menu items, users who click user clicks the link to the public article are erroneously told that they are 'not authorised to use this resource'.

This typically happens when the module is on the front page of a site, or after you have drilled down via some component's features until you are on at a page that has no ItemID in its own URL.

THE SOLUTION:

Use the Latest News (EM) module instead of the core Latest News module.  Then go to the menu manager to choose an appropriate category-blog or category-table page, and note its ID number.  Enter that ID into 'Menu ID' parameter of the Latest News (EM) module.  The module will use that menu-item for all its links. The articles will open as if they had been opened from that page.   


APPLICATION #2:  "Eek!  What happened to my template?"

When you click on a headline link, the article opens on an unexpected page and breaks the template.

THE CAUSE:  

Suppose you are using different templates for different menu-items (as is often done to distinguish the front page of a site, or to make room for wide components that don't fit the site's default page layout).  And suppose you place the Latest News module on a page whose template would not be appropriate for reading articles.

The front page of Electronic Morther.com is a perfect example.  The main component area is the tiny block to the left of Mother's torso.  It displays a very short welcome article.  No other article or component could fit in that block. The Latest News module is in the upper left, next to Mother's head.  

Now suppose that at least one of the categories included in the Latest News module's output is not included in the output of any existing category-blog or category-table menu-items. 

For example, on our site the Latest News module might be set to include both News articles and Reference documents. There is a category-blog for News on the main menu. There may or may not be one for Reference works. (We might just link directly to those articles from the corresponding DocMan listings.)  If the 'Reference' menu-item is unpublished, Joomla will open reference articles on the home page, breaking the template.  

In Example #1 we saw what happens when Joomla juggles lots of possible routes to an article.  In Example #2 we see what happens when Joomla can't find any obvious menu-item:  It links to the current page (the page the module is on) whether or not that's a good idea.

THE SOLUTION:

The same as the solution for problem #1.  For example, we could use the Latest News (EM) module to make links to the newest documentation open either on the DocMan page or on the News page. 

(There are other solutions besides Latest News (EM).  You could make a category-table menu-item on a menu for which there is no menu module.  Joomla's Latest News would probably open the Reference articles there, preserving the front page's template.)


SUMMARY

Use this module's extra parameter whenever you want to control where the links will open the articles.

Since Latest News (EM) is identical to the standard Latest News module in all other respects, you can use Latest News (EM) by default, and leave the extra parameters alone except  when you need them.  


INSTALLATION

You need to be logged in to download Latest News (EM).  

You install it, or replace it, using the standard Joomla Extension Manager.  (No neeed to uninstall first.)