How to convert Joomla 1.5 template to Joomla 2.5 template

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In this tutorial, we will show how to convert a Joomla 1.5 template to Joomla 2.5 template. We will take default Joomla 1.5 template "rhuk_milkyway" as an example and convert it to Joomla 2.5 native compatible template.


This tutorial covers only template conversion process, so it's assumed that you already have Joomla 2.5 website installed or converted from version 1.5.

There are 5 steps involved.

  1. Make a copy all Joomla 1.5 template files
  2. Edit files structure
  3. Edit file "templateDetails.xml"
  4. Edit file "index.php"
  5. Install and test converted Joomla 2.5 template

Step 1. Make a copy all Joomla 1.5 template files

The first thing to do is to copy the whole theme folder from version 1.5 to version 2.5

Copy whole Joomla template folder

Copy the whole template folder

  1. Go to theme folder in Joomla 2.5 website
  2. Create folder named "rhuk_milkyway25"
  3. Copy all files from folder "rhuk_milkyway" in Joomla 1.5 template folder to folder created in point 2.

Step 2. Edit files structure

Now, you need to edit folder structure to make it compatible with Joomla 2.5

Edit folder structure to make it compatible

Edit folder structure to make it compatible

  1. Delete file "params.ini"
  2. In version 1.5 this file used to store values of template parameters. But in version 2.5, all template parameters are stored in database. So there is no need for file "params.ini".

  3. Copy file "error.php" from default Joomla 2.5 template "atomic"
  4. Joomla 2.5 introduces new file "error.php" to contain layout of error pages. This file is simple and we can reuse the file from default theme "atomic".

  5. Create new file "template_preview.png"
  6. Joomla 2.5 introduces new file "template_preview.png" to present big preview image of the theme. You need to make a 640x480 screenshot of your theme and name it "template_preview.png".

Step 3. Edit file "templateDetails.xml"

Now, you need to edit file "templateDetails.xml" to make it compatible with version 2.5.

  1. Rename tag to

Edit file

Comparison table

  1. Change template name in tag

Change template name in tag <name></name>

  1. Replace multiple tags with single tag
  2. This is very cool feature of Joomla 2.5. Now you don't need to declare all files in some folder, you just need to declare that folder.

Declare file folder

  1. Delete declaration for file "params.ini"

Delete declaration for file

  1. Add declaration for new files created in step 2
  2. Add 2 following tags:

    1. error.php
    2. template_preview.png

Add declaration for new files

  1. Rename tags in section

Rename tags in section <params />

Comparison table

Step 4. Edit file "index.php"

After editing file "templateDetails.xml", you need to continue to edit file "index.php".

  1. Add PHP code to load Mootool library
  2. Add code string "JHtml::_('behavior.framework', true);" to the location as seen on screenshot bellow.

Add PHP code to load Mootool library

  1. Replace template name text "rhuk_milkyway" with php code
  2. Joomla 2.5 allows you to get theme name directly from file "templateDetails.xml" file, so there is no need to declare theme name as plain text.

Replace template name

Comparison table

Step 5. Install and test converted Joomla 2.5 template

Now, the converted Joomla 2.5 template is presented in templates folder, but you won't see new theme in Template Manager, because it's not installed yet. Make following steps:

  1. Go to Administrator > Extensions > Extension Manager > Discover.

Choose Discover tab in Extension Manager

  1. Click button "Discover" on toolbar

Click button

  1. Select appeared item "rhuk_milkyway25" in the list and click button "Install"

Choose the Joomla 2.5 template to install

  1. Now, the Joomla 2.5 template is installed and you can go to "Template Manager" to set it as default.

Set the new Joomla 2.5 template as default

We finished Joomla template migration with template "rhuk_milkyway" for today. Do you have any other ways to convert your template from version 1.5 to version 2.5 ? Please share using comment form belows. Feel free to leave questions if you get trouble with this migration process.

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Joomla! and Open Source fan. In spare time he writes the blog posts about Joomla Tutorials including reviews of popular Joomla Templates, Extensions and services. If you have started learning Joomla just buzz him via Skype, He would be glad to help you :).


  • Tuan
    Tuan Monday, 21 May 2012

    Hi Eleonore,

    Thank you for feedback. I've re-posted my article early published on Joomla! Community Magazine.

  • Marco Poet
    Marco Poet Wednesday, 23 May 2012

    I followed your instructions, now here's the result:
    here's the old page:

    Reply Cancel
  • Marco Poet
    Marco Poet Wednesday, 23 May 2012

    sorry I was a bit too fast. what wanted to add is, that the new template looks broken :(

  • Marco Poet
    Marco Poet Saturday, 16 June 2012

    I got rid of the atupgrade problem xml. That was from Admin Tools. A very sensitive program : )

    That leaves only the templateDetails.xml problem.


    Reply Cancel
  • Marco Poet
    Marco Poet Saturday, 16 June 2012

    OK Tuan!

    I was missing the closing extensions tag at the end of the templateDealils.xml file. That was fixed. But now the rhuk_milkway25 folder is no longer detected in the extensions discover attempt. May be related to Admin Pro. I won't bother you anymore, unless you care to comment on whether I might have deleted to many image and css files in the list : )

    Thanks again,

    Reply Cancel
  • Tuan
    Tuan Saturday, 16 June 2012

    Hi FWagner,

    Sure I care comments :), just drop me the details in the Contact Us form

  • Marco Poet
    Marco Poet - Version 1.5 still Friday, 27 July 2012

    I did the conversion exactly as it says and was successful on the first attempt. But there are no columns. How does one create columns on the page. Please help
    Thanks Thillai

  • Tuan
    Tuan Saturday, 15 September 2012

    Please kindly post your question at the forum

  • Marco Poet
    Marco Poet Thursday, 13 September 2012

    I tried to convert the ja_purity template but the result is the following message on the front page:
    500 - JHtml: :behaviour not supported. File not found.
    Has any one succesfully converted the ja_purity template?

    Any idea how to fix this issue?

  • Marco Poet
    Marco Poet Thursday, 27 December 2012

    Hello --

    I tried your procedure using the rhuk_milkyway template, and I ran into all sorts of problems. If you have time, I would like to discuss these issues with you.

  • Marco Poet
    Marco Poet Thursday, 17 January 2013

    Thanks but there is an issue, replacing multiple tags with single tags part,
    I just can't understand while using only folder names in new version you still show some file names in the screenshot :( stucked!

  • Marco Poet
    Marco Poet Saturday, 26 January 2013

    am grateful about the post you wrote converting the 1.5 template to a 2.5 template glad you did and i was done in under five minutes thanks dude

  • Guest
    antonio enriquez Monday, 30 September 2013

    HI....I made all changes, but when i want to open the site...only show me blank page with a message erver error say me.....iis possible configuration is wrong error code 500

    you know what missing me?

  • huyennt
    huyennt Tuesday, 01 October 2013

    Hi antonio,

    Please submit a thread on our forum -> Our supporters will help you address that problem.

  • Guest
    Ivan Tuesday, 15 October 2013

    Does anyone know if there are instructions for converting the default rhuk_milkyway template from either Joomla 1.5 or 2.5 to Joomla 3.x? I have a website using the rhuk_milkyway template under Joomla 1.5 that I would like to migrate up to Joomla 3.x.

    OR Does anyone know of another Joomla template that is similar enough to convert my rhuk_milkyway website to Joomla 3.x with the least hassle?

    Any help or advice would be appreciated!

  • huyennt
    huyennt Friday, 01 November 2013

    Hi Ivan,

    I've found out this video lessons introducing the way to migrate from Joomla 1.5 to Joomla 3. Let check!

  • huyennt
    huyennt Thursday, 17 October 2013

    Hi Ivan,

    You can convert a template from Joomla 2.5 to Joomla 3.x, but it is quite complicate.

    You can find some free and simple designs which are similar to rhuk_milkyway with 3 columns at

    I hope that it helps :)

  • Guest
    me Thursday, 16 January 2014

    Thanks man

  • Guest
    Smithd675 Saturday, 24 May 2014

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