The plugin is not working! What should I do?

Many plugins such as the DirectPHP, Include Content Item, and googleMaps plugins are designed with simplicity and ease-of-use in mind. You should be able to install, activate, and use them rightaway (as long as you have used the right tags as shown in the page where you download the plugin).

However, Joomla plugins are not iPhone apps. Each Joomla plugin does not run in its own application space. As such, conflicts are so common in Joomla. There can be conflicts between the plugins, with other modules, or even with the Joomla template that you are using. This is complicated by the fact that Joomla does not offer any form of debugging tools that tell you which are the two plugins that are in conflict.

So what should you do when the plugin does not work as expected?

Finding out where the Problem is

There are thousands of other plugins in the Joomla Extensions Directory. If this one doesn't work, you are free to try many others and find the one that works for you.

However, if you feel that this might be the ONE that you need, and you are determined to make it work, then you will need a little bit of patience. As pointed out earlier, there are no debugging tools in Joomla, so we have to use the primitive "Method of Elimination" - i.e. eliminate the possible areas of problem one by one until we find the bug.

The following list the steps I will go through to find out conflicts between two plugins.

Step 1: Check if the plugin works on my machine at all

This is the first step I always do - I want to see if the plugin of interest works on my server at all. If this step doesn't even work, there's really no point trying any other things.

The only surest way to ascertain this is to test the plugin on a fresh install of Joomla - with nothing else installed and using the default Joomla template. This will eliminate all other variables. Make sure you use the default Joomla template, and NOT any other templates. This is because today's modern templates use many javascript libraries such as mootools and jquery - which can cause conflicts with other plugins.

So this is what I will do. I will use the DirectPHP plugin as an example.

  1. Install a fresh copy of Joomla somewhere on my site.
  2. Install just the DirectPHP plugin.
  3. Don't forget to Publish the plugin so that it's active.
  4. Create a new article. Note that this is a plugin - which is used within an article. So you need an article to test it.
  5. In the article, don't put anything fancy. For this DirectPHP example, I will just put something as simple as:
  6. <?php echo "test123";?>
  7. Save the article and load the page.

For this DirectPHP example, if it works, you should see test123 on the page.

If the above works, you can move on to Step 2.

If it doesn't, please double check that you have activated the plugin. If it still doesn't work, you might want to try other plugins in the Joomla Extensions Directory.

Step 2: Change to my Desired Joomla Template

Note: Please make sure that you have tried Step 1 above before reading on.

Now that I know that the plugin can actually work on my machine, I will continue with the following:

  1. Start with the working system in Step 1 above, change the Joomla template to the desired template.
  2. Check if the system still works.
  3. If yes, move on to Step 3
  4. If no, switch back to default Joomla template again. Does it still work? If it does, switch to the desired template again --- This will basically allows you to confirm if it's the Joomla template giving the problem.

Step 3: Add Other Plugins/Modules One by One

Now that I know that the plugin works even using my desired Joomla template, the next step is to start adding the other plugins and modules one by one until you find which is the one that causes the conflict. Yes, ONE BY ONE.

Yes, I know this is a primitive and very time-consuming method. But it always get the job done to allow me to find which is the plugin that causes the problem.

Step 4: What to do now?

Suppose after going through Step 1 to 3 above, you managed to find the plugin or module that's causing conflict, what to do now?

There are 4 options:

  1. Take a look at the kksou Forum, and the other plugin's Forum. See if anyone has encountered the same issue and come out with any solution before.
  2. Post your problem in kksou Forum. For this case, unless I have used the other plugin before, it will be very difficult for me to help you here.
  3. If you are good at PHP, you can look at the source code of both plugins and try to resolve the conflicts.
  4. As in life, there are situations where you cannot get the best of everything. So, you have to decide between the two plugins which one to keep, and then find alternatives to the other one in the Joomla Extensions Directory.

About Posting Problem in the Forum

You are most welcomed to post your problems in the kksou Forum. I will help whenever I can. However, you have to help me to help you.

Debugging is like a detective work. Given the fact that I'm not sitting at your machine, you have to provide me with as many clues as possible so that I can try to guess what's happening at your end. So please include things like:

  • What have you tried? Please make sure you have triedStep 1 to 4 above.
  • At which step it stopped working? Are there any error messages on the screen?
  • Version of your Joomla
  • Any other things that you've tried or observed

Lastly, Please be kind to me. I'm not a know-it-all or expert to everything. So I do not have answers to every questions that you ask. If I have some answers or recommendations, I will definitely post them. If I don't reply, it usually means you have not provided enough information or details, or it means I do not have any solutions to your problem. Hopefully some other experts reading the problem can share their wisdom.

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