Template Design Class Interview With Rick Blalock

Rick BlalockFor the first time, we’re expanding the classes we offer at JoomlaTraining.com beyond just beginners classes. On April 22 in Miami, Rick Blalock is teaching a Joomla template design class. He’ll take you from a your basic HTML and CSS knowledge and using hand-on examples, he’ll show how to build a fully-fledged Joomla template. The class will also run on June 18th in Atlanta.

Rick is based in Miami and runs BeautyInDesign.com which was the first place on line to give people comprehensive tuition on how to build Joomla templates. He came to my attention several years ago with some groundbreaking templates including one that looked like a computer desktop and was the forerunner of many of today’s Mootools / drag-and-drop templates.

1) Can you explain a little about your background? How did you get into design and Joomla?

I received a teaching degree (Bach.) several years ago, in music believe it or not. I started doing webdesign on the side when I got out of college and was introduced to Mambo shortly thereafter. When Joomla came about, it was a natural choice to go with it. I’ve been through a variety of public Joomla projects since then including BeautyInDesign.com.

2) Do you have any exciting projects for 2009?

Several in negotiation stages right now, as far as client work goes (some really cool stuff like a TV station and more…but can’t say too much). I have some plans to release several intersting, unique extensions for Joomla this year too (check out www.joomextend.com for one of them – an exciting integration between Joomla and a shopping cart).

3) What are the basics people need to know to build a Joomla template?

They certainly need to know basic HTML and CSS. A good understanding of Joomla is essential too as you will be dealing with inserting module position tags and other things in the HTML markup. If you have some very basic PHP skills, you could take your template a little further. THis isn’t required though as most the time you can just copy off good examples.

It’s important for those coming from other CMS’s, like WordPress, to understand that Joomla confines the “theme” in one index.php file. Of course you can have other files and assets involved but you control any and all layouts with the one index.php file.

4) Can you give us a insight into the template class and what students will learn?

The template class is going to be a blast. I’m a big believer in “learning by example” so the class will rely heavily on that doctrine.

The template I recently built for BiD: http://beautyindesign.com/templates/quick-loading-joomla-template-usability/ is the lab project. It’s a good example to work from because it’s simple and has all the Joomla templating features needed to learn how to build one.

We will start with a quick session on taking a PSD and converting it to HTML/CSS. The main point of the class isn’t to learn HTML/CSS layouts but there are some things you can do to make Joomla templates easier to build if you know some things, so we’re taking a session aside and doing this.

We’ll then cover things such as converting an existing HTML/CSS layout to a Joomla template, understanding and implenting module positions in templates, to advanced techniques like template parameters, conditional areas and code, and more!

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