Now that the dust has settled from the recent launch of Joomla! 1.6 and developers are releasing new 1.6 compatible components daily, you may be getting anxious to move your site from 1.5 to 1.6.

You might be asking yourself (or others), “Am I able to use my existing 1.5 template for my new 1.6 site?“  The answer is, in short, no.

Ok – while that’s not entirely true, there are a lot of changes that you’re going to have to make before even attempting to install your 1.5 template on Joomla! 1.6.  Although there are lots of changes that may be required, depending upon your template, we’re going to review 3 of the most common changes: the XML file, the index.php file, and your template overrides.

Changes with the XML file (templateDetails.xml)

As the old saying goes, “The one thing that’s constant is change.” Well this is true for the Joomla! XML file as well.  The XML file is essentially the database of information about an extension (yes, templates are extensions). When it comes to Joomla templates, the XML file must be named templateDetails.xml.

Let’s take a look at the differences in a Joomla 1.5 templateDetails.xml file and a Joomla 1.6 templateDetails.xml file:

Joomla 1.5 Template XML Introduction

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="iso-8859-1"?>
<install version="1.5" type="template">
<name>Your Template Name</name>
<copyright>(c) 2011</copyright>
<license>GNU GPL</license>
<description>This is my template description.</description>

This example contains detailed information about the template – the version of Joomla! for which it’s developed, the author, author contact info, and the license information. Now let’s look at the same section of a Joomla! 1.6 template XML file.

Joomla 1.6 Template XML Introduction

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="utf-8"?>
<!DOCTYPE install PUBLIC "-//Joomla! 1.6//DTD template 1.0//EN" "">
<extension version="1.6" type="template" client="site">
<name>Your Template Name</name>
<copyright>(c) 2011</copyright>
<license>GNU General GPL</license>
<description>This is my template description.</description>

So far, the only major differences in this file are the use of a DocTypeDefinition (DTD) and the use of <extension> instead of <install>. The DTD is used to check the XML file’s content to make sure that it matches the structure needed by the application. Prior to 1.6, Joomla has not used DTDs in the XML file. The other difference is the extension element and version parameter – which must be set to 1.6 instead of 1.5. This let’s the system know that you’re installing a template developed for 1.6, instead of a 1.5 or 1.0 template.

The next section of the XML file is the used to index the files and folder.  This section has gone unchanged:


This list needs to be accurate or you’ll receive an error during installation. Note, however, that files and folders found within the folders of the <folders> element do not need to be listed separately. This feature saves developers a lot of time when creating XML files!

The next part of the XML file is defining your module positions. You can add as many as you need.  The position names cannot have spaces, but other than that can be named anything you want:


At the end of your XML file, you’ll need to include the </extension> tag to let the system know it has reached the end of the file.

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