Joomla URL Week Part 6 – Conclusions

Joomla URL WeekIn Parts 1 and 2 of our survey, we talked about default Joomla URLs and default Joomla SEF URLs. We decided that both were poor choices for a website.

Fortunately, over the next three days we analyzed the three components that allow you to produce Search Engine Friendly URL and found that each one offered potentially significant improvements.

Today, its time to answer the question:

"What is the best URL setup for Joomla and why?"

Recommendations for Each SEF URL Extension 

ArtioSEF: Recommended for smaller, low-traffic sites and those hosted on Windows Servers. The Control Panel is remarkably simple and the default settings require almost no modifications to make sure that it is ready for SEO. The problems come when you have more visitors because the number of database queries produced can slow the site down greatly.

SEF Advance: This is the safe choice for sites that don’t mind paying the 40 Euros price in exchange for a stable product and guaranteed future development. In terms of  features and options it has less than OpenSEF and roughly the same number as Artio, but it does have excellent support, great stability and very few bugs.

OpenSEF: This is the choice for websites who are want to manage all aspects of their SEO in one place. The range of tools available makes this truly an SEO component rather than just another SEF URL component. It can be strongly recommended for sites that are not likely to have many thousands of pages of content.

Its simple – there is no right answer for every site. There is one additional fact that you need to consider. Not all SEF URL extensions work with all or even many other extensions:

How SEF URL Extensions Work 

SEF solutions work by adding an extra file called "sef_ext.php" to each component. Unfortunately an sef_ext.php that works for one solution may not work for others. That means that Community Builder would need three different files to enable it to work with each SEF URL solution. Needless to say most developers can’t keep up with all three, and the writers of the SEF URL solutions can’t keep up with the multitude of new components being released. Inevitably your choice won’t work with all the components you use, so you need to focus on the functionality that is most important to you.

For example, SEF Advance produces great URLs for Community Builder, but Open-SEF is a much better choice for Virtuemart. Neither of them work well for Jomres so if you’re building a hotel site you need Artio.


In short, if you’re building a social networking site, use SEF Advance, if you’re building an ecommerce site, use Open-SEF, if taking bookings will be key, use Artio SEF and so on…. 


The following is a work in progress, that will help people work out which components are compatible with SEF URL solutions. There may be mistakes and there are definitely plenty of exclusions, so feel free to post more details in the comments section and I’ll add them to this table. As time goes on, I’ll also be working on adding more components and more details:

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Links to the SEF solutions’ own lists of components they are compatible with:

SEF URL Components – The Conclusion 

If there is one thing I came to realise during my tests of these SEF Components it is this: Joomla has poor default URLs but it has three mature, reliable SEF Components. I would be happy to use any of them on our sites or our clients sites. The trouble each of these components only work with around 50% of Joomla’s major extensions.


"Want to use Joomlaboard? Great, use Artio or OpenSEF."


"But what about my Community Builder installation? In that case, you need SEF Advance."

We can’t expect SEF Components to work with every available component – far from it. But its a shock to realize that it is still impossible to get SEF URLs with Joomlaboard and Community Builder – perhaps the most popular combination on Joomla sites.


The question needs to be asked – would we be better off if there was more cross fertilization in the development of these three components? Yes. Three mature, reliable SEF Components that only cover a limited number of the extensions is not a perfect solution.


There seem to be three ways in which Joomla can overcome this problem:


  1. We trust in the great work being done by Johan Janssens and others to improve the URLs produced by the Joomla core
  2. We hope that collaboration and the sharing of sef_ext.php files between these three SEF URL projects becomes more common.
  3. We increase awareness amongst 3rd Party Developer of the need to either develop or allow for the easy development of sef_ext.php files for their software. Relying on hardworking and dedicated people like Marco, Ken, Emir and the Artio people to maintain the majority of these files is not a good idea.


For now we need to scan through the available options and choose on a case-by-case basis. I hope this series has been useful and your comments on how to improve any of these articles are very welcome.

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