Sparky Anduril writes "In this book author Allan Walker writes to inform Joomla! website administrators and developers how to enrich their websites with the inclusion of multimedia. And be in no doubt, this book is not for novices. A decent understanding of Joomla! will be required for you to benefit from this book. But all-in-all, whether you are an experienced Joomla! administrator but fear to go where multimedia gremlins tread, or someone with knowledge of video and audio but having little idea how to integrate that into your Joomla! website, this book will give you a solid understanding and ability to enable you to embed multimedia in your website using a range of techniques and Joomla! extensions." Read on for the rest of Sparky's review.I do have one major gripe about this book, however: the author over-utilizes the word utilize, when English has a perfectly utilizable word which actually means what he wants to say, vis. "use." I wish technical writers would keep it simple and utilize the simple word rather than the fancy word which they mistakenly think makes them sound more intelligent! So, moan over, let's plunge into the contents of the book.
Chapter 1 provides an overview of multimedia (what is it?) and Joomla! (why that's needed when the book is aimed at Joomla! admins I don't know!) and then talks about where multimedia may be included in your site. The chapter is a bit repetitive and hence could have been shorter, but provides a useful foundation for what comes next. It also includes a timely reminder about web site accessibility...
Chapter 2 talks about how to manage media on the site — using the Joomla! Media Manager, an ftp program or a Joomla! extension. A bit basic, but in case you're a site admin with little experience in this area it's fairly essential stuff.
Chapter 3 was the biggest surprise of the book, but nonetheless a useful addition. It talks about text. "Text?" I hear you say. "What place does 'text' have in a book about multimedia (apart from as the medium by which information is transmitted to my brain)?" And in fact the first part of the chapter does seem like the author is riding his hobby horse to let us know what he thinks about fonts and CSS and so forth which, while relevant to any web site, are not really relevant to multimedia. But the chapter does include information about available text and typography extensions for Joomla! which will be news to many and may just solve your typographical problem.
And if you buy this book and read up to chapter 3 and complain it's a bit basic and tedious, well, keep on reading. In Chapter 4 we start the real stuff. In fact chapters 4 to 7 are where this book comes into its own. Chapters 4 to 6 cover (in turn) image content, audio and video. Chapter 7 covers collaborating with external sources.
Chapters 4 to 6 have similar structures, each of them dealing with a different class of media. A very useful section of each chapter deals with formats (image, audio and video respectively). Then the author deals with how to include the media in the web site, using in-built features (for images), custom HTML modules and third-party extensions. The section on third party extensions in each chapter quickly presents a number of options, without giving a great deal of detail about how to use each one. And that may be frustrating but is fair enough when in fact there are a whole load of extensions the user can choose from. What this approach leads to is an appreciation of the possibilities, a list of extensions to try out for starters, and hopefully an increasing confidence in the reader that they can try things out for themselves and find something suitable for their needs. The Image chapter covers for example image galleries and slideshows; the Audio chapter includes audio players and audio streaming, podcasts and RSS feeds; the Video chapter includes Video podcasting, players and streaming.
Chapter 7 is all about the "social web": so mostly it's about including media from external sites such as YouTube, Internet radio, social bookmarking and so on. This chapter is primarily a catalog of useful Joomla! extensions you can use to provide a variety of media from a variety of sources.
Chapter 8 is about Joomla! templates and multimedia. The chapter partly seems to serve as an advocate for commercial templates, but does have some interesting content about templates and extensions to provide mobile device access to your web site.
In Chapter 9 the author pulls all this together as he develops a multimedia website using some of the techniques in the book. At the start of the chapter, he describes how to set up a local development server so you can develop and/or enhance a site without breaking the live site. For admins who have been given a fully working site, this is essential information. For many of us, that is how we started and hence we already know how to do local development. The part missing from this section is how to install Joomla! on the local server (he starts to tell it but it really needs a couple more steps to be described — although that information is readily available at www.joomla.org of course). Also, this of all sections suffers from the fact that the author is a Mac-user — I am not trying to start a Mac-Windows war, but the fact of the matter is that the vast majority of users will be Windows users, so he should have provided more information on setting up a WAMP server or XAMPP on Windows.
The code used in the book is also available as a zip file download, in case you're too lazy to type it out again and want to use it exactly as-is from the book, or perhaps more reasonably you want to try out the code or CSS he has suggested and then tweak it to your own need! Would I recommend this book? It depends on whether you want a fast start to solve your media problems. If you have little awareness of how to start, this will help you out. Or if you don't want to spend hours trying out extension after extension this will probably save you a lot of time. If, however, you are really familiar with multimedia and Joomla! and are happy to play with extensions until you find the one you need, then you could save yourself some money and go play.
I have personally found the book to be informative and in some areas opened my eyes to what can already be achieved quite easily using Joomla! 1.5.
You can purchase Joomla! 1.5 Multimedia from amazon.com. Slashdot welcomes readers' book reviews; to see your own review here, read the book review guidelines, then visit the submission page.