Tag Archives: CMS

Error decoding JSON data: Syntax error – One Possible Fix

All right, all right. We’re mighty late with a ‘fix’ for this problem. But that’s because we haven’t run into it either. Let’s get to it.

After upgrading Joomla to Joomla 3.6.3 you might see the following error when trying to edit an article (and possibly modules, …):

Error decoding JSON data: Syntax error

I am not going to pretend to speak developer all of a sudden, but this error means that something’s wrong with one of the ‘settings’ for your article / module. Somewhere in your database, a mistake was made.

One “popular” fix back in the days was to partially roll back to Joomla 3.6.2. That’s the wrong approach for two reasons:

  2. You’re not fixing the problem. You’re just killing the messenger and burying the body.

Instead, you could look into the database itself. When I read from Michael Babker (I hope I wrote that right) that it could be as simple as a { too little in one of the ‘settings’ fields I went to research.

So, here’s what you can do to try and solve the problem.

  1. Note the ID of the article / module
  2. Open PHPMyAdmin / your MySQL workbench of your choice.
  3. Lookup the item in com_content, com_modules or com_whateveryourelooking for. Joomla is fairly good at naming databases after what they contain. (No offense, Magento. You suck.)
  4. Compare the column values to those of articles / modules that work just fine, and focus at the start / stop. Do you see any extra / missing symbols?

When I tried this on my article, I stumbled upon the following:


Pay close attention to what’s going on in the attribs column. Something went wrong, and there’s an extra {“ that shouldn’t be there.

After removing these extra characters, the article opened again.

So, if you are confronted by a JSON error, check your data. And make a back-up first.

Fun Story Time: As it turns out, this wasn’t even the article the client needed to edit and it only said “test”. 


The Joomla and More “CMS Installation Test”

One of the things WordPress is best known for, it it’s “5 minute install”.  So, that made me wonder… How long would it take me to install a CMs, and configure it to have similar features?  I decided to create a simple “speed install” test.  In this post, you can read the rules for this “CMS Installation Test”.

We test how long it takes to install a CMS, and document it.

Why a Speed Test?

WordPress claims to offer a “5 minute install”.  We were wondering how long it takes
to install another CMS, and achieve the same result.

What are the rules?

We will Install a CMS, and make the site meet the following conditions:

  1. Must have one post on frontpage with one image
  2. Must have possibility to post more posts on same page.
  3. Must allow comments
  4. We will use the default template
  5. Must display latest articles
  6. Must display most popular articles.
  7. All sample data must be gone.

Installation conditions?

  • We install the CMS on our localhost
  • Installation files are ready in folder.
  • Text is already written (you’re reading it!)
  • Downloads don’t count towards installation time.

The Goal?

We want to see how long it takes to set up a CMS!

Joomla 1.5.18 released – this time, you should update.

The people of Joomla have been rather busy lately.  We’ve now seen three updates in a very short period, of which 1.5.18 is the latest.  Of course, this fast follow-up of updates is partly a result of a “screw-up” in Joomla 1.5.16; which had some rather unpleasant results for some people who made the jump.  1.5.17 then came, to solve a “critical Security issue”, but not the “Joomla Site Destroying Issue.”

In the latest version, the issue , listed under Plug-in Issues as “Revert issue 19859 (Graceful handling of Apache plugin failures) (20424)”  – the issue that made all hell break loose when you were using certain plug-ins – was solved .

So, for those of you who have hesitated to make the upgrade – or made the mistake of upgrading to 1.5.16 without testing – I can only offer the advice to make the jump 1.5.18.

Story / Tip: Why a professional looking website can be important

Yesterday, I was approached by an “international” company that wanted to advertise on one of my blogs.  This strike me as odd, because that particular blog is very uninteresting.   Apparently, it took them a full day to find out that my two sites they were interested in weren’t “what they were looking for”.  How they didn’t see that the first time, before they approached me, was beyond me. 

I guess that part of the explanation is that they suck at what they do.  I checked their website, and  for a company that offers “Internet Services”, such as web design, their website is a joke.  They’re using a “free template” for a CMS.  Now, don’t get me wrong.  There’s nothing wrong with using “free templates.”. 

However, when you “sell” web design services, you shouldn’t have “free template by <insert name here>” on your website.  Twice.  In plain sight..  Not that this changed a thing; their template was so crappy that I frowned anyway. 

Is this me, ranting because they didn’t chose to advertise on my site?  Nah.  I don’t really care about advertising.   I try to avoid it as much as I can (Although I do have some Google Ads on two websites, and links to a sponsor on most of my blogs that aren’t on WordPress.com.

To make this post “Joomla And More” Related, here’s a piece of advice for everyone.  If you’re planning on building a company site, keep in mind that your site is like a business card.   People’s opinion of your company can be strongly influenced by your web site.  If your website has an unprofessional look: they might think that your company is unprofessional by association. 

If you ever need some (free) advice regarding your company website, feel free to contact me, so you can avoid making an ass of yourself online. 

CMS: Open Source or Propertiery?

I originally planned to write a long, boring post but since I forgot what I was about to say, here’s a second attempt. 

CMS’es, or Contant Management Systems, come in many forms and shapes.  They’re usually associated with their Open Source flagships like Joomla, Drupal or WordPress.  But as of late, I see that more and more companies are selling their “own” CMS.  Or, in some cases, they claim to “build” their own CMS when all they do is adapt an existing CMS a bit, and then sell it as their own.

While everyone’s got the right to try and make money, I strongly prefer Open Source solutions (as if that wasn’t obvious from this blog content).  Let me try and explain why, by comparing Open Source solutions with their commercial counterparts.

Note: When referring to commercial CMS’es I mean both CMS systems which you’d have to buy, or which you can buy as part of a “hosting package”. 

The price

One of the main differences, is the price.  Open Source solutions are free, which make them a great solution for people on a budget.  Commercial solutions obviously cost you money. 

Of course, if you’re counting on someone else to build your site for you, and he’s using an Open Source solution you’ll paying them, as well.  There’s nothing wrong with that.  But at least Open Source solutions give you the option to do everything on your own.  CMS websites based on an open source solution are often cheaper.

Let me toss you an example.  There’s this guy I know, who sells his own CMS.  I’m not going to give a link or a name, because I don’t feel like “feeding” the competition (and I don’t like his product).  But just so you know, a license for his product costs over € 300.  For that money, you get a tool; with which you’ve got to build your site for yourself.  Which – let’s be honest – is easy to do, but the results are websites that don’t really look attractive to me.

On a side note:  Open Source solutions allow you to do some experimenting.  It’s simple to install Joomla, Drupal; Wordpres… on a server or on your own PC to see what they’re capable off.  For a commercial CMS, that’s just not true.

The support

It’s not uncommon for people to experience issues with a CMS, as simple as they might be.  Back when I started 3 years ago, I had no clue how Joomla worked.  And the book I was reading at that time, didn’t really made me any wiser. 

But because Joomla was a well-known and well supported solution, it was easy for me to find all the help I needed on the internet.   I quickly discovered the forums, the knowledge Base, and even more important:  I discovered that there were quite a lot of articles to be found on the subject of Joomla.  For Open Source solutions, it’s generally a rule that the support is quite good, because the “community” will gladly help newcomers with their issues.  For tools like Joomla, there are even sites available in most of the major languages. 

When you’re working with a commercial CMS, there’s only one person (or company) you can rely on, and that’s the company that created the product.  You’ll have to depend on the hand full of employees that watch the forums or try and respond to your e-mails.  In some cases, you might not even get a reply at all.  And when you meet the makers in general, they’ll be easily offended when you dare to question features of their product. 

Expansion is key

When you start a website, you have certain ideas that you want to work out.  Once those are worked out, you’ll be satisfied for a while.  But you’ll want more, in the future.  That’s where open source shines.  The open source solutions can rely on quite a lot of volunteers that develop extensions and add-ons for your favorite CMS.  There’ll also be people with a passion that will translate the tool so people speaking their language can have a better experience. 

Joomla is a prime example of this.  It’s available in more and more languages; and like I said in a previous post it’s possibly to use an entirely localized version.  And the amount of extensions you can choose from are amazing.  Quite a lot of them are free; and there’s always the option to buy commercial add-ons for your template.  Some examples of great commercial add-ons, created by a hand full of developers are AcyMailing, Allvideos or RokTabs; just to give a few examples. 

With a commercial CMS, you’re restricted to the CMS as-is; often with the possibility to add a handfull of add-ons.  Most of the time, these add-ons will have to be bought, as well.  Either way, you’ll be limited to what Company X has come up with.

Moving on

My last point is that Open source solutions can be moved between servers; whereas commercial CMS’es are usually restricted to one server or even to the company that’s selling the CMS to you.  Solutions like Joomla can easily be taken to another server; in case you’re moving between hosts or moving from a development environment to a production environment.  And if you’ve chosen to let someone else build your site for you, it’ll be easy for another company to pick up where the other left of, if you chose an Open Source solution.


Some of you will probably say that I’m biased.  Maybe I am.  But I’m convinced that using Open Source solutions offers quite a few advantages over commercial solutions.  Sure, there are downsides to Open Source solutions – from time to time there might be security issues – but in general the benefits of using an Open Source CMS outweigh the disadvantages.