Joomla! Component skeleton or framework

I was going to develop a Joomla! Component for a client and started to read the documentation on how to build a Joomla! Component. I searched online for a skeleton or framework so I didn’t have to program that from scratch. Googeling it didn’t show up any really good results.

Until I realized there are actually services for this. Component Creator is one of them. Through a web interface you can specify the details for your component and you can download a ZIP-file which is installable for Joomla! to start bulding upon.

However, documentation is something not really existing for Component Creator. Instead there are community forums and some video tutorials. I was searching the forums for a specific matter and it turned out that the same question had been asked several times by other users. The reply from the Component Creator staff was that you will get the answer to that question by buying the Premium service. So instead of documenting an answer to a common question they want each client to contact the support team to get the answer, probably in order to sell more Premium subscriptions. A bit odd to me. The free service is so limited anyway so without the Premium subscription you quickly run into it’s limitations, so they will sell them anyway.

You should also be aware that Jensen Technologies who is behind Component Creator also is a consulting business offering development of Joomla! components. So your supplier will also be kind of your competitor. I am not saying they will go and steal your business or clients but it is not always a healthy thing when your supplier is also your competitor. Their in house developers will naturally always have the best support compared to their clients.  If it was me, I would have split it into two different companies.

Anyway, the Component Creator is a powerful and helpful tool when starting a new component project for Joomla!.

The video tutorials can be found here:

There is also a webinar recorded on Youtube here:

Below is a demonstration of building a component in 30 minutes using Component Creator by Søren Beck Jensen (2015).

Ispconfig3 php5-fpm Error 500 Internal server error

When trying to change a client website on a Ispconfig3 host from Fast-CGI to PHP-FPM the page just gave Error 500 Internal server error. Investigating the site error log showed lines like:

[Sat Oct 22 10:39:56 2016] [error] [client xx.xx.xx.xx] (2)No such file or directory: FastCGI: failed to connect to server "/var/www/clients/client6/web447/cgi-bin/php5-fcgi-*-80-domain.xx": connect() failed
[Sat Oct 22 10:39:56 2016] [error] [client xx.xx.xx.xx] FastCGI: incomplete headers (0 bytes) received from server "/var/www/clients/client6/web447/cgi-bin/php5-fcgi-*-80-domain.xx"

Checking the status of PHP-FPM by the command:

service php5-fpm status

gave the result “not running”.

Investigating the PHP-log file, /var/log/php5-fpm.log, displayed lines like:

[22-Oct-2016 10:34:53] ERROR: [pool web405] cannot get uid for user 'web405'
[22-Oct-2016 10:34:53] ERROR: FPM initialization failed

However, the site widh id 405 and user web405 did no longer exist on the server and has been left there by Ispconfig3 for unknown reasons.

The solution was to manually remove the file /etc/php5/fpm/pool.d/web405.conf file and then:

service php5-fpm restart
service apache2 restart

Joomla 1.5 PHP fatal error allowed memory size exhausted in libraries/joomla/error/exception.php [SOLUTION]

After a site move (from one webhosting to another) the site reported error 500 internal server error. When checking the logfile the file libraries/joomla/error/exception.php reported that allowed memor size was exhausted. I tried increasing it by adjusting the php.ini settings all the way up to 2 GB without resolving the problem. This is way more than Joomla should need.

The problem was that I had forgot to update the temp and log paths in Global settings to the ones on the new server. The path the site is running under can be found by the menu Help -> System info. Then I adjusted temp path and log path in Global settings and the problem was resolved.

If your site gives you error 500 internal server error, access your Joomla database using for example phpMyAdmin and delete all rows in the jos_session table.

Another solution if the problem is a corrupted database is to repair the database tables using phpMyAdmin.

In configuration.php, also try setting cache_handler=”file” instead of “memcache”.

PHP Parse error: syntax error, unexpected end of file in XXXXX.php

  • Check that you have spaces around curly braces, i.e. for example don’t use <?php}?> but instead use <?php } ?>
  • If your script has been running without problems on earlier versions of PHP but you are now running PHP 5.4 or later, replace all occurrences of <? with <?php

Joomla! 1.5 menu items not visible

I was moving a Joomla! 1.5 site to a new hosting server. The site had been running on PHP 5.2 on the prevoius server but on the new host only PHP 5.6 or later was available. Joomla! was version 1.5.14.

After installing the site on the new server, no menu items were visible, not in backend, nor in frontend. I checked the database tables and the menu items were present in the database, they just didn’t show up in Joomla!.

The solution was simply to upgrade Joomla! to the latest verion, 1.5.26, which is compatible with PHP 5.6 (something that I would have done anyway as the next step).

Joomla! 1.5 upates can be downloaded here.

Check if a file is open by another process in PHP (Linux/UNIX)

The PHP flock() function is good when the file locking method is used the same way by all programs that will lock the file.

However, you can’t check if any process in the system is actually using the file or not. If you for example are monitoring an incoming ftp folder, you don’t want to start processing a file until the file is completely tranferred (i.e. wait until the ftp daemon is no longer having the file open).

The following code illustrates how the command lsof can be used for the purpose: 

$filename = "locktest.txt";
$directory = ".";
while (1) {
        $result = exec("lsof +D $directory | grep -c -i $filename");
        if ($result == "0") {
                echo "$directory/$filename is NOT open ($result)\n";
        } else {
                echo "$directory/$filename IS OPEN ($result)\n";


/tmp problem when installing plugins in WordPress

When you try to install a plugin in WordPress and get an error message like this:

Warning: file_exists() [function.file-exists]: open_basedir restriction in effect. File(/tmp//google-integration-toolkit.tmp) is not within the allowed path(s): (/var/www/XXX/) in/var/www/XXX/web/wp-includes/functions.php on line 2140

Warning: touch() [function.touch]: SAFE MODE Restriction in effect. The script whose uid is 12345 is not allowed to access /tmp owned by uid 0 in /var/www/XXX/web/wp-admin/includes/file.php on line 184

Download failed. Could not create Temporary file.

This is happening when the server is running with SAFE MODE because WordPress will not be able to access paths outside it’s web root. Find out the full path to your web root on the server (a hint is in the error message you just saw). Create a temporary directory within your website path and add the following line.

Edit wp-config.php and add:

define(‘WP_TEMP_DIR’, ‘/var/www/XXX/tmp’);

(Replace /var/www/XXX/tmp with the full path to your temporary directory.)

PHP htmlspecialchars_decode doesn’t handle nordic/german characters like å, ä and ö

The PHP functions htmlspecialchars and it’s reverse htmlspecialchars_decode only handles the following characters:

  • ‘&’ (ampersand) becomes ‘&amp;’
  • ‘”‘ (double quote) becomes ‘&quot;’ when ENT_NOQUOTES is not set.
  • ”’ (single quote) becomes ‘&#039;’ only when ENT_QUOTES is set.
  • ‘<‘ (less than) becomes ‘&lt;’
  • ‘>’ (greater than) becomes ‘&gt;’

If you want to output html text containing nordic/german characters like Å, Ä, Ö and Ü in dialog boxes (popups) these characters also needs to be converted. The following PHP function does this for you:

function unhtml( $string ) {
$string = str_replace ( '&amp;', '&', $string );
$string = str_replace ( '&#039;', '\'', $string );
$string = str_replace ( '&quot;', '"', $string );
$string = str_replace ( '&lt;', '<', $string );
$string = str_replace ( '&gt;', '>', $string );
$string = str_replace ( '&uuml;', 'ü', $string );
$string = str_replace ( '&Uuml;', 'Ü', $string );
$string = str_replace ( '&auml;', 'ä', $string );
$string = str_replace ( '&Auml;', 'Ä', $string );
$string = str_replace ( '&ouml;', 'ö', $string );
$string = str_replace ( '&Ouml;', 'Ö', $string );
$string = str_replace ( '&aring;', 'å', $string );
$string = str_replace ( '&Aring;', 'Å', $string );
return $string;

It is important that the code is saved in UTF-8 encoding (or the format your web page is using). Edit the code in for example Windows notedpad and use Save as. Now you can select UTF-8 encoding when saving the file.

Or if you are using UNIX / Linux you can use iconv to convert the file if it is not already in the correct format. First, to find out the current encoding for your file, use the file command:

$ file --mime-encoding unhtml.php
unhtml.php: iso-8859-1

Now, to convert it to UTF-8 using the iconv command:

iconv -f iso-8859-1 -t utf-8 unhtml.php > unhtml-utf-8.php

The reverse of unhtml is of course the html function:

/* Encodes specific characters for display as html */
function html($string) {
  $string = str_replace ( '&', '&amp;', $string );
  $string = str_replace ( '\'', '&#039;', $string );
  $string = str_replace ( '"', '&quot;', $string );
  $string = str_replace ( '<', '&lt;', $string );
  $string = str_replace ( '>', '&gt;', $string );
  $string = str_replace ( 'ü', '&uuml;', $string );
  $string = str_replace ( 'Ü', '&Uuml;', $string );
  $string = str_replace ( 'ä', '&auml;', $string );
  $string = str_replace ( 'Ä', '&Auml;', $string );
  $string = str_replace ( 'ö', '&ouml;', $string );
  $string = str_replace ( 'Ö', '&Ouml;', $string );
  $string = str_replace ( 'å', '&aring;', $string );
  $string = str_replace ( 'Å', '&Aring;', $string );
  return $string;

TYPO3 cms installation fails in step 2

If you are installing the TYPO3 content management system (CMS), after uploading the files to your web server and setting some directory permissions, you are supposed to point your browser to your web server’s root where you just have installed TYPO3 in order to continue the installation. A screen similar to this is displayed:

TYPO3 installation step 1

Click to enlarge

Enter database username, password and server (normally “localhost”) and click continue. If the following screen (as step 2) is displayed, you are in trouble:

TYPO3 installation step 2

Click to enlarge

This screen is supposed to show you the availible databases for selection. But as you can see it ends just below the word “Database”. No error message is displayed.

The reason for this is that PHP is running in Safe mode. By configuring your webserver/PHP to run with Safe mode off the installation will work.

This situation is actually described in the TYPO3 Wiki under troubleshooting saying “This could cause the Install Tool to display an error message”. In my case it didn’t and it took some time of head scratching to figure it out.