In Joomla!, the bulk of your content will be stored in articles. Articles are simply a way to store and organize the text, images, and other media for the various "pages" on your site. When we say "page" we are generally referring to a certain location on your website that contains both modules and articles.
Categories, Menu Items, Articles & Modules
The type of page a visitor will see, depends on the type of menu link they clicked to arrive there.
We will get into menu links and their settings later on, right now it is important to clarify the difference between an article and a page. To put it simply, the text you are reading now is an article, the little boxes and columns all around it are modules. Articles and modules are the parts that make up a page. When you click a menu item, a link, or type an address, you are navigating to a page.
Every time you create an article, you are given the option to assign it to a category, or leave it uncategorized. You can have an infinite number of sub categories in Joomla! 1.7x, it is much like the folder structure on your computer.
Now, you have probably noticed that this is actually the second article on this page.The type of menu item you clicked to get here was a Category Blog Layout. That tells the system that we want to show all, or some of the articles in a specific category. While all of your content is stored in modules and articles, organized into categories, the menu items are largely responsible for defining what content to display, and how to arrange it. Whether to show a single article, a single category, or a category and all it's sub-categories, for example.
This is how we generated the current "Module Map" page with Joomla! :
- Created a category called "Layout Examples" (and added a few articles to it);
- Created a menu item called "Module Positions", pointed at the category "Layout Examples", and configured the parameters (we're getting there...)
- Assigned some modules to the menu item "Module Positions", one for each available position.
If you can remember that three step procedure, operating Joomla! will be a breeze for you.
Pretty much everything in Joomla! has parameters, or options you can configure. Article parameters are simple, options to display titles, the print/PDF/email icons, and so on. Menu Item parameters tell the system what to show, and how to show it when a menu item is clicked. On this page, the menu item parameters defined what category to pull articles from, how many articles would be shown, whether or not we would show links to articles beyond that number, and how many links we would show. The menu item parameters also allowed us to choose what order the articles would be shown in. The most common options are "Most Recent First" and "Article Manager Order" which allows you to manually control ordering.