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25
Nov

9 Joomla Template framework solutions for developers

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Overview

9 Joomla Template frameworks

Joomla Template frameworks for developers

Joomla templates satisfy many Joomla! beginners with designs available to create websites quickly. However, Joomla developers prefer Joomla template frameworks. They love the challenge of customization work, to get worthwhile results – their unique websites.

There are just a few template frameworks in the Joomla market. In this article, I will introduce you to 9 of the most popular Joomla template frameworks with the hope that you will get a general view about them easily.

Let’s start with …

What is a Joomla template framework?

It is a base skeleton template to build Joomla templates with. It means a clean, blank HTML/CSS skeleton with no colors, no gradients, no borders; just dimensions, margins, menu system styling and so on. Yes, all possible elements to express your coding knowledge and design talent.

Now, you can explore available Joomla template frameworks.

Review

Criteria

Below is my criteria list when selecting a new framework:

  • Stable usage: I can use it without bugs.
  • Reasonable and flexible layout: Module positions are divided suitably, crisply and cleanly. And it is easy to adjust their width. So I can see the layout I want and customize it quickly.
  • Easy to use: It has a well constructed user interface with clear usage instructions and its code is neatly structured.
  • Fast loading speed: I can set and save its parameters in the blink of an eye. And the customized website is loaded quickly.
  • Rich features: It provides various tools for crafting a modern template: Mobile ready, Google Analytic code insertion, Social media integration and so on.
  • Extensible ability: It is compatible with other extensions.
  • Easy to update: I can update it quickly, without breaking up previous settings and database.
  • Detailed documentation: Documentation with full introduction, features list, customization instruction, etc.

General reviews

Framework

Standalone template skeleton (*)

Joomla supported

PROs

CONs

Free/Commercial (**)

JA T3 framework

No

1.5, 2.5

- Nice design

- Quite comprehensive features

- Complicated code

- Complicated installation with various elements if you want to use all of its features

- Code editing requirement to customize layout

Free + Commercial

Gantry framework

No

1.5, 2.5

- Easy to use and customize

- Very detailed documentations

- Social media integration lacking

Free + Commercial

Warp framework

No

1.5, 2.5

- Fast loading speed

- Social media integration lacking

Commercial

Gavern framework

No

2.5

- Social media integration

- Fast loading speed

- Limited available templates

Commercial

Zen Grid framework

No

1.5, 1.7, 2.5

- Nice design

- Easy to use

- Rich features

- No mobile support

Commercial

Helix framework

No

1.5, 2.5

- Easy to use

- Fast loading speed

- No mobile support

- Layout is not flexible

Free + Commercial

Construct Template Development framework

No

2.5

- Quite easy to use

- Fast loading speed

- No special features or functionalities

Free + Commercial

Morph framework

No

1.5

- Keyboard shortcuts added

- Sophisticated features.

- Complicated usage

- Slow loading speed

Free + Commercial

JV framework

Yes and No. There are two versions:

- One requires templates

- One doesn’t

1.5, 1.7,2,5

- Drag and drop feature

- Built-in themes editor

- Limited mobile layout

Free + Commercial

(*) Standalone template skeleton: A framework is used with a template. Some frameworks are standalone so you need to install them with templates to use them. Some other frameworks have templates integrated in the package so you just need to install it only once.

(**) Free/Commercial:

  • Free: You can download it without paying a fee, with or without registration.
  • Commercial: You need to pay to use it.
  • Free + Commercial: These frameworks can be downloaded freely. And they come with two template types: Free and commercial. Free templates have limited features whereas commercial templates have various features such as mobile support, preset colors, module variations and so on.

Detailed review

JA T3 Framework - Joomlart

JA T3 Framework

JA T3 Framework

JA T3 framework is one of the most popular Joomla template frameworks. Joomlart have distilled 5 years of experience in Joomla template development process into it. So, you might be overwhelmed by its rich features. The version 2.0 especially comes with administration features such as easy typography usage, Ajax driven or profiles management in the back-end. Mega Menu, Multiple layout system, Mobile Ready and Native RTL support are other features of JA T3.

However, there is some not-so-good news for users: Firstly, if you want to use all the features of JA T3 framework, you have to install many elements: The core component, the template and other plugins to support typography, tabs, slideshow and more. Secondly, to customize JA T3’s layout, you have to edit code. It is time-consuming, right?

You have to spend time to learn about JA T3 to make sure that JA T3 usage doesn’t confuse you. Besides this, you can take a look at many templates which are created from JA T3: From Joomlart with JA Portfolio, JA Social, JA Droid, JA Anion, JA T3 Blank or other template providers such as JM business template.

Download / Buy - Documentation

Gantry Framework – Rockettheme

Gantry Framework

Gantry framework

Gantry framework is another framework which is provided by a leading Joomla product vendor – Rockettheme. This inspiring framework utilizes the advantages of all the previous templates.

If you have used Joomla templates of Rockettheme before, you already know about the advantage I am going to mention: It has stunning designs, in both the front end and the back end. Its layout is super-flexible with 65 base module positions which is based on the 960 Grid system, 12 built-in features like logo, CSS Style, background color and more. Many core features are visualized by images or toggle switches. Both on-site instructions and documentation are clear and detailed for all Joomla user level: Basic, Intermediate and Advanced so you can configure and customize it without troubles.

Even when it provides many features, you don’t need to worry about its speed. The built-in Gantry RokGZipper compresses the CSS and JS used by Gantry to provide optimal performance. You can also install the Gantry Cache plugin to speed up your site.

Please note that one of the most powerful features of Gantry framework is the ability to customize the layout of individual pages right in the backend. But now it is only in the version for Joomla 1.5.

Download / Buy - Documentation

Warp framework- Yootheme

Warp Framework

Warp framework

Warp framework comes from talent German developers - Yootheme. It is a toolset of functionalities used to create Yootheme templates. Currently, there are 50+ templates based on Warp 5.5 and Warp 6 for you to choose from.

If you ask me what impressed me most when trying Warp framework in Yootheme templates, my answer is loading speed. It is very fast thanks to its Gzip compression and CSS Sprites. CSS and JavaScript files can be merged together in a single file and the size of resulting file is reduced because it uses Gzip compression. The compression parameter includes four values which are suitable for several server configurations.

Warp doesn’t provide a lot of template parameters but they are organized neatly so using it is pleasant. All parameters are grouped in three panels: General panel is for default profile, tracking code, etc whereas Profile panel is for style, content, layout and Module panel is for mobile layout customization.

You can definitely customize it more. The instructions are in the Warp documentation.

Buy - Documentation - Demo

Gavern Framework – Gavick

Gavern Framework

Gavern framework

Gavern framework of Gavick and JA T3 of Joomlart have some features in common because Gavick developers created templates based on JA T3 before, and they used that experience to create their own Gavern.

You should give it a try, even when you have used with other big frameworks. It brings you features which other providers ignore such as Social API supported so you can connect with Facebook, display a “Like it” button in the article or add a Tweet button, Google button and more to your website. Besides this, you can choose Facebook, iPhone, Android or handheld as your default layout. Gavern gives you the small features that bring you convenient usage; but that doesn’t mean its basic features are not good. Layout customization in Gavern is simple - You can set width of template columns and template modules blocks, set your desired font styles and so on.

Currently, Gavick provides you with 8 templates based on the Gavern framework.

Buy - Documentation - Demo

Zen Grid Framework - Joomlabamboo

Zen Grid Framework

Zen Grid Framework

Zen Grid framework is built from Zen Grid Template which Brian Teeman rated the best Joomla template (more details). Now it is a standalone package to be use in conjunction with other templates that are compatible with it. So to use it, you need to install the core Zen Grid Framework plus your Zen Grid compatible template.

Zen Grid will attract you at first sight with a nice table-less layout based on 960 Grid System. But that is not all. You will get a pleasant user experience thanks to its well constructed administrative interface. You can use panels, sub-panels to manage the layout and design of the template.

With zero Joomla template or coding knowledge, you can make changes to all aspects of the overview, appearance or layout of your website such as style, logo or fonts. Some more CSS knowledge allows you to override the core CSS of the template right in the back end. Last but not least, detailed documentation is provided in the backend.

Zen Grid is a great choice if you want to create nice websites.

Buy - Documentation

HelixFramework – Joomlashaper

Helix Framework

Helix framework

Helix framework is recommended if you want a simple, elegant design. It is quite flexible and run quite fast thanks to itsbuilt-in CSS and Javascript compression.

Using Helix is easy. In the back end, there are six tabs with their parameters. Almost all parameters are basic and you don’t need to spend much time to learn them; for example logo, menu, Google Analytic code insertion and so on. Helix comes with 40+ module positions so you have quite a few options to create your own website layout. You can guarantee a clean and clear layout with Helix since it just allows you to adjust the width of column blocks, such as the left column with all its modules on the left, and the right column with all its modules on the right. You cannot adjust the width of each separate module with Helix. It is good for people who just want limited customization, but it is not flexible for users who want more customization.

If you don’t want to spend much time on installation, you can choose its QuickStart package to install Joomla, Helix framework plugin and a Helix template in one installation.

Download / Buy - Documentation - Demo

Construct Template Development Framework – Joomla Engineering

Construct Template Development Framework

Construct Template Development Framework

Construct Template Development framework might disappoint you if you want a framework with a full feature set. It just provides you with some basic parameters and a simple user interface in the backend. However, if you need a starting point for custom template development, it is for you.

You get a table-less template 40+ module positions, including one for offline view; 5 content columns; Google Web font with Construct Template Development Framework. Besides this, you can adjust site width, full width or CSS Sticky footer. This blank template helps the developer visualize his desired website easily. However, if the imagined website requires heavy customization, you need to dig into code to do it since there are no available parameters in the back end for you.

Download / BuyDocumentation

Morph Framework – JoomlaJunkie

Morph Framework

Morph framework

I totally believe that Morph framework is created with the ambition to make all dreams about a Joomla template framework come true. Joomlajunkie developers have poured their hearts into it. Before trying Morph out, you should read its documentation carefully to make sure that your discovery of Morph is not disjointed. Luckily, the Joomlajunkie guys prepared detailed documentation for users.

Somehow, it is different from other template frameworks. Morph contains three parts: The component (Configurator component), the template (Morph template) and the theme (A themelet). Each part handles its own function and can not work without the others. With one Configurator component, one Morph framework, you can install multiple themelets to use the Morph visual aspect you want. Or you can create your own themelet.

With Morph, 250+ configuration parameters are in your hand. You can customize all its layout components, import and export entire databases, reset configuration or edit code right in the backend. Although, I have to say that the default layout of Morph is not so flexible; I can only customize its fixed parameters.

In the quick setup, there are 15 pre-installed extensions which are automatically included and installed such as NoNumber Extension Managers, Akeeba Backup, JCE Editor and so on.

One unwanted disadvantage of Morph can be guessed: it runs slowly. Even when there are performance options for you such as CSS packing, JS packing, GZip and more, it still runs slowly. And when you want to save settings or load your website, you have to wait longer when compared with other frameworks.

Buy - Documentation - Demo: Includes Backend demo which you can try yourself with username admin and password demo and Fronted demo which is set to use the Vanilla themelet by default.

JV Framework – Joomlavi

JV Framework

JV Framework

You might not have heard about JV framework before since it is not so popular. But if you want a fast framework with just the necessary features, which are easy to use and customize, with a simple user interface, then you should choose it.

JV Framework has a unique feature –Drag and drop module positions. All the content titles you present in the front end are displayed in their positions in the back end. And you are free to re-organize them by dragging and dropping. This makes the layout customization process is really enjoyable.

Other features will satisfy you as well. Its SEO feature lets you insert keywords straight into the built-in box. Performance settings allow you to accelerate your page load speed with layout cache, CSS, JS and GZIP page compression. Another nice feature is Lazy loading that enables your site visitors to download and view current focus portion of the page rather than download the whole page at a time. It also allows you to edit CSS, JS and root files right in the backend using the themes editor.

However, the mobile layout is limited as you don’t have any control over which modules you want to display on mobile devices. Moreover, the links to the documentation are broken so I couldn’t learn more about it.

Download / Buy

In conclusion

Learning about frameworks takes time and effort since each one was created by Joomla developers from all the previous lessons in the template creating process. I have just touched on the basic elements of each. How about you? Have you used Joomla template framewoks? Please feel free to share your experience with me!

Rated 4 stars based on 24 votes
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Comments

  • Marco Poet
    Marco Poet Saturday, 26 November 2011

    Great post! I faced a couple of these problems myself, and now I got the solutions.

    Reply Cancel
  • Marco Poet
    Marco Poet Monday, 28 November 2011

    Thanks for post, and short nice words about our Gavern :)
    I put info about your post also on my privite blog: blog.elimu.pl under tag "framework"

  • Marco Poet
    Marco Poet Monday, 28 November 2011

    Without considering the speed, in your opinion which is the "most talented" framework?
    If I wanted to choose one to develop many different templates, which you choose?

  • Marco Poet
    Marco Poet Tuesday, 29 November 2011

    I choose Gantry as a favourite framework ! I built many sites with different complexity. The upgrades are very simple, you must download the latest framework package and install it as an extension! Done.

    Reply Cancel
  • huyennt
    huyennt Tuesday, 29 November 2011

    @Pawel: Thank you for your post -> http://blog.elimu.pl/8389-9-szablonowych-framework-ow-dla-joomla/ =)

    @ Sim: Gantry, in my opinion :-)

  • Marco Poet
    Marco Poet Wednesday, 30 November 2011

    Speaking from experience, Gantry is BY FAR the best! AND, good news @huyennt:

    Please note that one of the most powerful features of Gantry framework is the ability to customize the layout of individual pages right in the backend. But now it is only in the version for Joomla 1.5.

    Actually, in 1.7 you just can do this with new template styles feature. Simply make a copy of your gantry template and assign it to specific menu items. The original Gantry template remains as "Master".. allowing you to edit the layout settings in your copies.

    Reply Cancel
  • huyennt
    huyennt Friday, 02 December 2011

    It's cool! Thank you, Scott :D

  • Marco Poet
    Marco Poet Wednesday, 30 November 2011

    I guess the real debate is.... is templates the best option, as a online marketing company, i get asked to build websites for companies who want to run a pay per click campaign or Search Engine Optimisation campaign (SEO) and a design from scratch in my opinion is always best, it looks unique and fresh, any one else agree???

    Dan

  • huyennt
    huyennt Friday, 02 December 2011

    @Pay Per Click:
    Yeap, if you want to create your own unique and fresh websites, you can design from scratch.

    Using framework is another option. Some frameworks are very flexible and can be customized a lot. With them, you can still create your own unique websites :-)

  • Marco Poet
    Marco Poet Thursday, 19 January 2012

    Hi huyennt, i just want to ask about SEO factors for Joomla. Is it design for SEO purposes? If i'm going to create a new site using Joomla, is it search engine friendly like Wordpress? Thanks!

  • huyennt
    huyennt Thursday, 19 January 2012

    Hi guy,

    Please post a new thread about this topic in our forum -> http://www.joomlashine.com/forum/30-general-discussions

    Joomlashine users, our supporters and I will reply it very soon :-)

  • Marco Poet
    Marco Poet Friday, 09 December 2011

    Amazing post.. Thank you very much for this valuable post.

    Reply Cancel
  • Marco Poet
    Marco Poet Monday, 19 December 2011

    It's great post. I find here great list of frameworks. Thanks for posting.

    Reply Cancel
  • Marco Poet
    Marco Poet Wednesday, 04 January 2012

    With the 1.6 development cycle coming to an end the Production Leadership Team has decided it is time to also start formalizing our changes to how we want to build Joomla into the future. We've been discussing the changes presented in this draft document with users and developers at Joomla events for the last year or more

  • huyennt
    huyennt Thursday, 19 January 2012

    Thank you for your information, Aiden. Could you please share your changes with us?

  • Marco Poet
    Marco Poet Saturday, 10 March 2012

    You are very active marketer and actually provide very useful information.
    Thanks

  • Marco Poet
    Marco Poet Thursday, 17 January 2013

    I agree with Mustafa, you seem to know what you're doing.

    Great work, by the way. I'll definitely be using some of these soon. I love Joomla!

  • huyennt
    huyennt Saturday, 10 March 2012

    Hi Mustafa, thank you for your nice words. I am happy to know that this article is helpful for you.

    More useful articles will come in the future :-)

  • Marco Poet
    Marco Poet Saturday, 31 March 2012

    I'm considering to build my new site with Joomla and these templates are great for me, however, I'm really love JoomlaShine templates more than these templates.

    Reply Cancel
  • huyennt
    huyennt Monday, 02 April 2012

    Thank you for your warm words, Trung. We always try our best to create high-quality templates for you guys. We are glad to know that you like them :-)

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