I just came across a blog post mentioning joomla content creation kits at Alledia. The article briefly went over some of the options (k2, Form2Content, jReviews, and more) and then put it out to the readers to discuss. Check out that post for developer opinions, but be sure to read my comments below if you are a user that wants the real scoop on CCKs for Joomla!.
What is a CCK?
A CCK is a "content creation kit". The essential function is being able to add custom fields to articles or listings, the output of which you can easily template. The end result of a good joomla CCK is a simple form that authors fill out which then gets turned into a well thought out, attractive, and effective layout. The better CCKs let you template category lists, directory lists, single article views, and module views. The best let you easily create custom search modules, build in complex design functionality, and extend your content into a directory, job board, blog site, news portal, real estate site, or pretty much anything you want.
CCKs automate design by turning simple user forms into dynamic layouts.
Anybody can download a slick joomla tempalte design from Rockettheme or Yootheme, but most people don't realize that you need to know a bit of HTML to actually make your content look tip-top at all times. If you hire an expert to set up a joomla CCK for you and design the templates of various views, you will get an extremely simple user interface that get's parsed into a slick design consistently. This is good not only for admins and authors but also for any site that relies on user generated content on a mass scale. Another key feature is that all of the data gets stored in separate fields in the database, so design changes will always "filter through" your existing content.
I have tried out a number of CCKs, but personally I recommend jReviews from the expert developer Alejandro at ReviewForJoomla.com. Not only does it come with a number of views for listings (section, category, directory, detail (single article), it also comes with modules for displaying listings, reviews, and more. The advanced search function is key because it works with a customized module template. You can add whatever fields you want in the module template and users can filter listings by those items.
I could go on forever about the wonders of jReviews (I haven't even mentioned the reviews part!), but I will save that for future posts. Suffice it to say that I have explored other CCKs like Mighty Resources and k2, but always seem to be coming back to jReviews. Don't believe me? Check out some joomla websites I have designed with jReviews being used for user-generated content within a stock template:
- HouseRoamer.com - jReviews used as a real estate directory with tons of integrated features
- TheWeddingring.ca - jRevews used as a bridal vendor directory
- HathwayTech.com - jReviews used as a web developer portolio (shameless plug, sorry)
- SudwerkBrew.com - jReviews used as a retailer locator for a brewery
Pretty slick huh? The bottom line is that if you want great looking content on you Joomla website and don't want a ton of ongoing design work or HTML knowledge, you need a CCK.