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Dynamic XML Sitemap README

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/**
* @version    $Id: README 2011-09-07 23:31:41Z diana $
* @package    Dynamic XML Sitemap
* @copyright  Copyright (C) 2009-2011 - Diana Scherff (http://www.dianascherff.com). All rights reserved.
* @license    GNU/GPL
*/

For an SEF-capable version of this module, download the beta version here:
http://www.dianascherff.com/images/fbfiles/files/mod_dynamic_xmlsitemap_beta.zip
And you can read more about this version here:
http://www.dianascherff.com/development/community/4-sef-work/43-beta-testing-anyone

Attention:

Please be aware that I am no longer actively providing support for this module.  It has become too time consuming to help everyone individually.  I have also turned off registration to the support forums, hopefully temporarily, due to spam.  The forums were set up to help people help themselves, allow people to help each other, and to share in the development process, but they're clearly more effort for me than they are helpful to anyone, so I may end up shutting them down permanently.  I still have grand ideas regarding further development and 1.6/7...etc. native versions, but Joomla is moving way too fast for me to keep up at the moment, especially when each new 1.x version of Joomla is no longer compatible with any 1.(x-y) native extension.  "Backwards Compatible" and "Legacy" are NOT 4-letter words.

Caution:

This is a FREE module and should be used at your own risk.  If the instructions below are not followed EXACTLY, this module can appear to "break" your site.  If you are not 100% sure what you're doing, install the module on a test site, or look on the Joomla.org forums for clarification of module installation steps, generic module settings (that are available on ALL modules), manual installation/uninstallation of modules, etc.  If you are getting an error after submitting the sitemap to Google, search Google's support site for clarification and maybe some helpful hints on finding the problem.  I can't teach you how to use Joomla, or how to understand Google sitemap errors, as much as I'd like to try...All I can say is the instructions below are listed for a reason.  Follow them.  If the instructions don't tell you to do something, then for goodness' sake, DON'T DO IT!  And don't say I didn't warn you ;-)

Installation & Setup:

  1. Unzip the mod_dynamic_xmlsitemap(UNZIP).zip file
  2. Install the two files (one is a module, one is a template) - mod_dynamic_xmlsitemap.zip & dynamicxmlsitemap.zip using Joomla's Extension Installation tool at "[backend] > Extensions > Install/Uninstall".
  3. FIRST THING!!  Click to edit the module "Dynamic XML Sitemap." **Change the module position to "dynamicxmls" (VERY IMPORTANT!).  You will have to manually type in the "module position" field.  (Trust me, you CAN type in that field even though it's also a drop-down.)  It will NOT show up in the drop-down at first, you MUST TYPE IT IN. DO NOT ENABLE THE MODULE WITHOUT CHANGING THE MODULE POSITION! IF YOU CAN'T FIGURE IT OUT, SEARCH THE JOOMLA FORUMS FOR HELP.  THIS IS A JOOMLA FEATURE YOU SHOULD KNOW HOW TO USE!!  You will have all sorts of LAYOUT problems with your Joomla FRONTEND if you enable the module without changing the position FIRST.
  4. Reread #3...it's VERY important.
  5. Now you can enable the module.  If you did steps 1-3 correctly, you won't even know the module is installed when you visit the front- (or back-) end of your website.  If your site shuts down, is blank, or has any other problems, THE ABOVE STEPS COULD NOT HAVE CAUSED IT.  Uninstall the module AND template and try again.  If all else fails, don't use this module.
  6. If you're still with me, adjust the module parameters if needed:  choose if you want categories & sections and restricted content on your sitemap. The default is "Show" but I would suggest changing the restricted content setting to "Hide" in most cases.  Note: categories & sections are not currently available in the beta SEF version.
  7. Enter the location of Joomla if required (e.g. http://www.yoursite.com). View your sitemap if you are unsure. If your links start with "/index.php?..." then you need to enter the location of Joomla. 99.9% of users will have to enter the location because the Joomla configuration file doesn't list the location anymore.  If you had to enter it in the configuration file to make SEF (on the whole site) work, then you're already set!  In that case, you won't need to enter the location again here.
  8. View the sitemap by going to "[location of Joomla]/?template=dynamicxmlsitemap" (this is also the URL you will submit to Google for indexing).  If you have problems, try entering "index.php" before the question mark (e.g. http://www.yoursite.com/?template=dynamicxmlsitemap OR http://www.yoursite.com/index.php?template=dynamicxmlsitemap).

Troubleshooting steps to try:

  1. Make sure the module and template installed correctly.  If you cannot uninstall them from the Extension Manager (the check box will be grayed out) then they did not install properly.  This is NOT a glitch in the module or template, but an error in the installation process (e.g. a server timeout or other unrelated issue).  You will probably have to manually uninstall and reinstall the template and/or the module (if you want to try again).  If for whatever reason you cannot use Joomla's extension installation tool, and you really want to use this extension, you can MANUALLY install both the module and template.  You would have to manually upload the unzipped template to the "templates" directory and the unzipped module files to the "modules" directory.  You will then have to create a new line in your database tables for each, the template and module, so that Joomla recognizes them.  I have had to do this with one of my sites for ANYTHING I want to install, so it happens, but definitely do not make changes to the database unless you know what you're doing.
  2. Make sure you have the most current Joomla patch installed (1.5.x only, this module has not yet been tested with any other versions of Joomla).  I highly recommend subscribing to the Security updates email list: http://www.joomla.org/download.html.  Joomla only sends emails when there's an update to download so you don't have to worry about receiving emails more than about once a month.
  3. If do not have the rhuk_milkyway default template installed (if you've removed it or you used an installation that didn't include it) I strongly suggest you add it.  Many problems I come across that I just absolutely can't fix are on sites that don't have it installed.  I don't know the connection, but there seems to be a common theme...
  4. SEF is turned OFF in the current (non-beta) version so the module setting to show SEF URLs option in the module is "gone" for the time being...
  5. If you don't see the XML when you view the sitemap in your browser, make sure you are using INTERNET EXPLORER to view it. Mozilla Firefox DOES NOT show the XML format unless you go to View -> Page Source, otherwise you'll just see a ton of URLs without XML tags. Just because you can't see the XML with your browser, doesn't mean Google can't see it!

Google Errors (Google Webmaster Tools: https://www.google.com/webmasters/tools/home - you must have a FREE Google Account to access this tool AND submit your sitemap):

  1. Make sure your settings in Google Webmaster Tools for whether to use "www" or not match your sitemap.  Go to "Site configuration" > "Settings" and make a selection from the three choices under "Preferred domain." If you've told Google not to use the "www" then your "Location of Joomla" in the module settings needs to be http://yoursite.com instead of http://www.yoursite.com.  If you've selected "Don't set a preferred domain" then you'll still need to be consistent in your sitemap.  To check for errors click "Site configuration" then "Sitemaps".  Under "Status" a big red X will appear if there are errors.  Click your sitemap, and under "Line Status" you will see an error that says "Paths don't match..."  This rule also applies to your URLs entered manually under the "Advanced" module settings, everything either needs to have a "WWW" or NOT have a "WWW."  In any case, the number of errors and the specific "problem" URLs will be listed here and you can make any necessary corrections.  Corrections can be made by adding or removing the "www" from your "Location of Joomla" module parameter OR from your "Advanced Parameters > Additional URLs".  The sitemap page will also specify if there are any XML errors in the sitemap. For example, if your dates are not properly formatted, or any number of other problems that may occur, those will be listed here and may keep your site from being indexed AT ALL if not corrected.
  2. Indexing.  Please note that I submitted my sitemap on March 19, 2010 and TWO MONTHS later, on May 19, 2010, only 2,142 of my 3,057 URLs have been indexed.  My AVERAGE "Pages crawled per day" is 240...Indexing TAKES TIME and does not start until Google reads and electronically "approves" the sitemap; however, if NONE of your links have been indexed by Google after two weeks, please log into your Google Webmaster Tools account, click on the site you want indexed, click "Diagnostics" then "Crawl Errors."  You will see seven links that say "HTTP (0)" - "In Sitemaps (0)" - "Not followed (0)" - "Not found (0)" - Restricted by robots.txt (0)" - Timed out (0)" - "Unreachable (0)" the last of which is automatically clicked (it's in bold).  If any of these links has a number other than zero (0) in the parenthesis, e.g. (209), click on the appropriate link and review the URLs listed. FOLLOW a few of the URLs if you're not sure what the problem is.  If you think this sitemap is causing the problem or listing a URL that doesn't exist, please open the sitemap and search for one of the URLs that's giving an error (Ctrl+F in windows will let you search the page).  Some problems are caused by incorrect/outdated links within Joomla and are not from the sitemap so please take this into consideration. 
  3. From #2 above, the crawl errors listed under "Restricted by robots.txt" can be misleading...or confusing.  If you have menu aliases with the same name as a folder on your server that's blocked by your robots.txt file, it's VERY LIKELY that Google will not crawl these links.  For example, my site uses a menu item alias "media" so when Google sees my http://www.dianascherff.com/media/... links, regardless of what follows "/media/" in the URL, it thinks it's not allowed to crawl these pages because [my/every?] Joomla also has a DIRECTORY called "media" that's blocked in the robots.txt file.  There are two solutions to this.  The first is to give your menu items aliases that don't correspond to directories on your server.  This is the easiest option if you don't have numerous internal links that would also need to be corrected.  The second, if you've already set up your menu aliases and can't change them without lots of extra work, edit your robots.txt file to explicitly BLOCK ("Disallow:") files and sub-directories of "media" (add "Disallow: /media/system/" and "Disallow: /media/index.html") and remove the line that says "Disallow: /media/".  One is probably easier than the other depending on how many files and sub-directories you have to list and/or how many internal links you have to edit if you change your alias(es).  There are lots of websites out there if you need help understanding the robots.txt file, but you can really only allow all, or disallow specific files and folders.  You cannot use wilds.  A reference to formatting this file can be found here: http://www.robotstxt.org/orig.html#format

Still having trouble?  Then unfortunately, this probably isn't the best extension for your site.  As much as I'd like to help everyone who has trouble, I just can't and I'm sorry about that.  I've heard Xmap (I think) has a good alternative.  Please don't ask me when SEF will be fixed...I don't have any idea at this point. Please try the beta version above if you really want SEF.  I use it and it works fine for me, but it's not bug-proof yet.

Eats

License and Copyright

This website and its content is © Diana Scherff – 1997-2011. All rights reserved. Any redistribution or reproduction of part or all of the contents in any form is prohibited other than the following: You may print or download to a local hard disk extracts for your personal and non-commercial use only.

You may not, except with our express written permission, distribute or commercially exploit the content. Nor may you transmit it or store it in any other website or other form of electronic retrieval system.

Applies to all content unless otherwise stated.

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