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Introduction/Petr Kindström Introduction

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Introduction

TYPO3 is a free, feature-rich, Content Management System built with PHP/MySQL running under many Unix and Windows variants, with access to other database systems. The complete feature list is available at typo3.org.

People on all levels are working with TYPO3. There are administrators, developers and editors. Those with technical internet skills able to install TYPO3 and develop the websites are called "Administrators". Developers are programmers who develop features or enhance existing ones so that you can expand your website with different features and capacities. The people with less technical knowledge are the editors. They are typically the ones who pay someone else to do the technical job to maintain their website with the system.

Is TYPO3 for me?

If you were impressed by the feature list you're probably asking yourself if this product is for you. Be aware that all the flexibility and richness comes with a price: complexity. If you're not ready to spend a month or more learning the system and are in a hurry to satisfy a customer, TYPO3 is probably not the answer. On the other hand, if you are looking for a powerful web development tool that, once mastered, will allow the creation of complex web applications, sites, and intranets, then, you have come to the right place.

TYPO3 is an immense and capable system and cannot be "learned" in a week! The sheer number of features make TYPO3 a CMS that cannot be mastered very easily in a short amount of time and it is unlikely that this will ever change. Once mastered, however, TYPO3 will let you create the most complex and unique websites, and the authors who use it will love you for choosing TYPO3.

TYPO3 - an element based CMS

TYPO3's method of putting together pages of content elements is somewhat common in other modern CMSs. TYPO3 can be called an "element-based" CMS. This construction gives a lot of flexibility while ensuring that pages are consistently designed - a fundamental objective of a CMS! The more common alternative among CMSs is a more fixed approach where a page has a fixed number of content areas - for instance, a header, an exerpt, a body area and an image. TYPO3 can do that as well (it can allow for anything you like!), but most likely you won't want such a simplistic framework. It must be remembered that element-based content is the simplest implementation of TYPO3; TYPO3 is not "just" element based, but every installation includes a complex element-based architecture.

TYPO3's control of content is very granular. Each element in a TYPO3 website can be used multiple times, copied, deleted, edited, and even stored for later use. On almost every level, elements can be turned on or off at will, can be scheduled to turn on or off at specific times/dates, or can be visible only to specific persons or groups. Reading that last statement, you might say, "Every CMS can do that," however the specificity of control that TYPO3 allows is truly magnificent. Individual paragraphs, images, or plugins can be controlled in a very precise manner.

The TYPO3 Highlights Page on http://typo3.org covers many of the ways data can be manipulated throughout the CMS. A few examples are: Dynamic graphics generation, Advanced image processing, Intelligent Image handling, Multiple editing modes (edit content from the admin Back End, or from quick Admin widgets right on the web page!), Fine grained element control, reusability of records (records can in many case be thought of as pages, or page elements if you are famaliar with other CMS's).

TYPO3 concept

The TYPO3 concept consists of three integrated parts:

Core - The TYPO3 core is a beautifully self-commenting (Coding Guidelines) set of objects upon which TYPO3 is built. Almost all of the extensions make use of many of the powerful constructs available in the core through its powerful API. When you install the "TYPO3 source" you are installing the core.

Interfaces - There are two interfaces to use in TYPO3, often referred to as frontend and backend.

The frontend is the user interface that looks just like any website - in fact it is the actual website! It is used by any web surfer when browsing the site. The frontend can also provide some controls to logged-in backend users through which they can quickly and easily edit the content of the website.

The backend is a feature-rich user interface composed of many different modules (Page, Tools, User, etc), with each module possibly having mutiple submodules.

Extensions - Features can be easily added to the Backend or Frontend via so-called extensions. The module Tools->Extension Manager provides the neccessary interface to fetch and install such extensions.

Extensions can be either plug-ins or modules. Plug-ins are extensions that produce frontend material visible on the TYPO3 generated website (e.g., the News extension), modules are extensions that provide backend functionality (for example the Directmail or PhpMyAdmin extensions).

Different kinds of users

In TYPO3 we have three different kinds of target groups. Each group of users has its own need, each one with specific support by TYPO3.

Editor

An editor is someone who works with TYPO3 on the first line but focuses on the frontend. He/she is someone who has restricted backend access. There are different levels from a simple game editor that edits game scores, and times on one page up to a chief editor. A chief editor is one who controls the whole website page tree and all the work of the other editors. Another aspect of an editor might be to create HTML templates, create web content, or simply manage the workflow of other editors.

Administrator

An administrator is someone who sets up or maintains the system for end users. Usually he is an Admin user in the backend and/or has shell access to the server. He creates Typoscript templates, installs and removes extensions, configures extensions to fit the editors / webusers needs and cares for updates and patches of the source. An administrator is someone who works with TYPO3 in the first line but focused on the backend.

Developer

A developer is someone who creates extensions and/or core parts of the system. This is not to be mistaken with someone who creates templates, design or things like that. A developer is someone who works for TYPO3 in the first and second line.

Getting started

To get started quickly and painlessly, we have prepared installer packages. Furthermore, there is a special guide on installation for first-timers.

You may notice, however, as you begin to install your TYPO3 site, that your local / favourite ISP may not support the System Requirements for TYPO3. The best option is to change from hosting providers to another from our list of dedicated TYPO3 hosters. To be able to run TYPO3 you need a so-called WAMP or LAMP environment which consists of:

PHP needs more than the default 8MB memory-limit which a bunch of discount web hosters still apply. Graphics manipulation requires some extra libraries (ImageMagick) and compile-time settings for PHP. Find out more about this in TYPO3 Installation Basics.

We have prepared a "Getting Started" tutorial (available in many languages) that will help you getting started with TYPO3 website creation. These tutorials are relatively easy to follow and give you a first glimpse into how things work internally in TYPO3. Think of this first document as an introduction, not a quick-start guide. It is best to go right on to other documents and tutorials after working through "Getting Started."

Getting information

There are many ways to get more information on TYPO3.

First of all you will a lot of documentation on typo3.org, in the Documentation section (https://typo3.org/documentation/). TYPO3 uses either OpenOffice Writer or the PDF format for documentation and you can write your own using this template.

The wiki is also a good place for information on TYPO3. You can use the search to the left for specific word-searches or you can click through the menus starting on the Main Page to find what you want.

An great way for beginners to learn about TYPO3 is to look at the documentation videos. Don't hesitate to have look at them. They are presented with multiple language support and cover many of the basic aspects of TYPO3.

There are also the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) and How-Tos on http://typo3.org, and the TYPO3 wikipedia on https://wiki.typo3.org. Those are the places to begin finding answers to your questions before asking them on the mailing list or trying to dig into the documentation. Often you will find an answer to your question there.

Another option is to search for more information. On typo3.org you can find an internal search engine for sweeping the TYPO3 web site, but if that is not enough you can always try to use an external search engine like Google or Altavista. Sometimes Google does a better job of searching typo3.org than the typo3.org search engine itself. There are also many, many TYPO3 advice sites out there that can be found with the typo3.org search engine.