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Any aspiring web developer is familiar with the overwhelming number of template choices available in the community. Whether it be for an ecommerce, school, or nonprofit site, it’s critical to find the proper look and feel to give your visitors the best possible first impression. This blog offers some things to consider while you begin your template hunt.

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Locate the right developer

Finding the perfect template is definitely going to involve some research. You'll want to make sure the template developer is reputable and has good reviews and ratings. You can start by browsing our list of recommended 3rd party template developers like Yootheme, RocketTheme, Gavickpro and more. We’ve already done some screening for you and we can vouch for the companies on our list. Another factor to consider while looking through template developers is to make sure there is some way to contact them. Check to see whether or not they have a call center or sort of support ticket system. This is very important just in case you ever find a bug or if you have a template-related issue. If you have a problem with the template you won’t want to be left in the dark and be forced to go through the search process again to find a new template.

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I’ve been a developer at CloudAccess.net for several years now, and you can usually find me developing custom extensions or in the back end of a site getting community-based extensions to work correctly. Our platform exists to help new Joomla and WordPress users develop their own websites, and a lot of new users have questions about the different types of extensions available. Therefore, to help new users, the purpose of this blog is to shine a little light on the difference between components, modules and plugins in Joomla (with a side note about WordPress plugins). I've also included a few tips on finding the right extension to suit your needs.

Components

A component is the largest and most extensive type of extension. Components add main functionality to a site, they are accessible on the front end through a menu item and usually appear in the center of the main content area on certain pages. Popular components include forms, shopping carts, content managers, image galleries, blogs, etc. Components work directly with the database for the site by moving information back and forth and each component has two interfaces: one for the administrator and one for the front end user. There are many components available through the Joomla Extensions Directory (JED) and many times a component will also come with modules and plugins that increase functionality. When looking through the JED, components are labeled with a “C”. The screenshot below is of the Hikashop listing in the JED, a popular shopping cart component. You can see that it is a component, but also comes with modules and plugins (indicated by the “M” and the “P”).

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Autodiscover allows users to easily configure their email client by automatically determining mail server specifications. Without Autodiscover, users have to manually configure their email client, which is tedious and leaves a lot of room for error. To enable Autodiscover, you’ll want to contact your DNS hosting provider, but if your domain is registered through us, we give you access to your DNS control panel where you can easily make these changes yourself.

To enable Autodiscover for CloudMail, our integrated email service provided free of charge for any domain name purchased through CloudAccess.net, you’ll need to create two DNS records - a CNAME record and an SRV record.

Adding a CNAME Record

First, add a CNAME (canonical name) record for the domain. The CNAME record functions as a shortcut. In fact, you can think of it as a shortcut to a file on your desktop. It’s an alias for the Address (A) record that maps an IP address to a target server, which is our CloudMail server in this case. To add the CNAME record, log into the CCP, click on the “Domains” tab below “Your products” and click on the “Manage” button for the domain name that you’d like to work with.

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Have you ever wondered what happens when you click on one of the shiny buttons in the Cloud Control Panel™(CCP)? I know what you’re thinking - you’re directed to a page where you can perform an action to help manage your application. But have you ever wanted to find out more about the technical processes behind the actions?

By clicking on that button you set in motion a series of interrelated events that send a ripple down our platform. The processes in our CCP allow you to perform complex actions very quickly. If done manually, they would take several hours each and three times the caffeine.

CCP features are primarily coded with an ensemble of markup and scripting languages to make application management easy. These languages provide the necessary zing so the user experience is functional and memorable. By nature, the markup languages lack the flexibility to be full blown system by themselves. Instead, they pass the heavier buck to the backend language utilizing Ajax, web development techniques that allow web applications to send and receive data.

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Imagine this horrible hypothetical situation: you’re deep in development mode making changes all over your site. You’re in the zone - nothing can stop you as you move about the options as fast as humanly possible. Your site is going to be a miracle, you’re a genius, ideas keep flowing through your head and you’re going to change the world. After making several changes, installing several extensions, posting multiple articles, you refresh the page to see the changes live only to cry out in pain and anger because your site suddenly looks something like this:

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Or this:

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The Cloud Control Panel, or the CCP, is an easy-to-use interface used to manage each website hosted with CloudAccess.net. We recently redesigned the entire CCP and this blog describes the process we went through and offers a little history of one of the most important pieces of our platform.

In the beginning, the CCP was actually a custom Joomla component we built and pre-installed in Joomla sites that were launched through our platform. It was completely separate from what we called the “Client Area” at the time.

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Last week we hit a big milestone as a hosting provider: the number of active hosted applications on our platform reached 20,000! Every once in a while we like to recognize accomplishments like these and to celebrate our clients because, although we’re not one of the giants in the industry just yet, each client helps us get there. Keep reading to find out who got free lifetime hosting for launching the 20,000th site!

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To be honest, we didn’t expect to reach this milestone just yet - we were projecting this to happen in July or August, but we launched WordPress as a fully integrated product throughout the entire platform in March, which helped us reach this goal a little quicker than anticipated. Active websites on our platform include demo trial sites, websites that have been launched through our CMS in the Classroom program, and clients who have upgraded to one of our hosting & support plans.

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Thousands of clients have asked us to help them import their site into our network, and our support team has always installed the site for individual clients manually. We’re more than happy to continue doing this, but we’ve also developed a new site importation feature within the Cloud Control Panel™(CCP) enabling clients to import sites easily on their own.

import feature

We offer managed hosting and support for the Joomla and WordPress applications. Using this feature you can easily migrate your site by using a number of options. You can upload a .jpa file from your computer or paste in a link to a downloadable .jpa file from the Internet. Or you can upload individual site and database files or paste in links to downloadable site and database files on the Internet. You also have the choice of launching the application as a new product on our platform or to overwrite an existing site. Watch the video below to learn how to access and use the feature or read our Importing a Site knowledgebase article.

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After four years at the helm, Gary Jay Brooks is stepping down as CEO of CloudAccess.net and Jonathan James Gafill is stepping up to fill the position. Gary did a fantastic job as CEO and was pivotal to our success in our formative years. He will continue to help guide the company as owner/founder.

A career entrepreneur, Gary founded CloudAccess.net as MichiganMedia.net in 2008, a webdesign firm in Indian River, Michigan. In 2009 Gary became an active volunteer in the Joomla community and proposed the idea of a 30 day demo trial (hosted for free in cloud) to Open Source Matters (OSM). OSM put out a public RFP, and CloudAccess.net won the contract in April of 2010 over other larger companies like GoDaddy and Rackspace. Over the next four years Gary served as CEO, watching the company grow to host over 20,000 websites with more than 30 employees in 4 offices worldwide. More importantly, his idea for expanding the demo program put Joomla into the hands of many people who otherwise might not have been exposed to the CMS.

Prior to becoming CEO, Jonathan James Gafill served as Chief Operating Officer for the company and played an important role in shaping CloudAccess.net for close to 3 years. Originally joining the team as Project Manager in 2011, Jonathan successfully oversaw CloudAccess.net Professional Services before becoming Support Team Manager. It wasn’t long before Jonathan had a hand in managing many different departments at CloudAccess.net. Being an integral part of the team for many years, Jonathan was the natural choice to take over as CEO.

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 Throughout the last few days you’ve undoubtedly heard news about the “Heartbleed Bug”, a major vulnerability in the OpenSSL cryptographic software library. Essentially, the bug enables the theft of information that is normally protected by SSL/TLS encryption. Each SSL or TLS certificate comes with security keys that (if compromised by Heartbleed) weaken the security of communication over the Internet using applications like email, instant messaging, other web-related services.

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CloudAccess.net server administrators actively monitor numerous security channels and we became aware of the vulnerability immediately. The bug causing the vulnerability has been around since December of 2011, but was only announced on Tuesday of this week by a team of researchers. Although there are no known real-world exploits of the bug, we have taken every measure to protect our clients, like we always do.

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