Upgrading a Joomla 1.5 template to Joomla 1.6

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This page provides feedback on the process of upgrading or converting a Joomla 1.5 template for use with Joomla 1.6 and later versions from those who have already attempted it. This is intended to be a living document that can be added to as more experience is gained and is likely to be reorganised periodically. If you have encountered a problem when upgrading a template, or if you have any information that you think will help smooth the way for others who will follow then please add your comments initially on the Talk page. We will then collate the information and incorporate it into this page.

Chris Davenport prepared slides for a presentation at the JoomlaDay UK 2010 event which explain the changes in templates for Joomla! 1.6.

Template Parameters

In Joomla! 1.5, 1.6 and later versions, the template parameters are defined in templateDetails.xml.

Whereas in 1.5 parameters are defined as part of the <params> section, and each parameter is defined as a <param>, in 1.6 and later template parameters are contained in the <config> section and treated as a <field> nested within the <fieldset> and <fields> tags, as illustrated below.

    <fields name="params">
        <fieldset name="basic">
            <field name="" type=" default="" label="" description="">
                <option value="1">On</option>
                <option value="0">Off</option>
            <field name="" type="" default="" label="e" description="" />

<fieldset name="basic"> wraps the parameters in a grouping element. Using name="basic" labels that element as "Basic Options" and name="advanced" labels it as "Advanced Options".

The name, type, default, label and description attributes still apply.

Template Manifest File

Two other important changes to the templateDetails.xml file include:

  1. adding the new 1.6 Doctype
  2. changing the <install> tag to <extension> as shown below.
<?xml version="1.0" encoding="utf-8"?>
<!DOCTYPE install PUBLIC "-//Joomla! 1.6//DTD template 1.0//EN" "">
<extension version="1.7" type="template" client="site">

Notice the additional new client attribute which is set to site for a front-facing template and administrator for an back-end template.

Objects and Methods


  • <?php echo $mainframe->getCfg('sitename');?> is now $app->getCfg('sitename'); Where $app = JFactory::getApplication();

Error Codes

  • $this->error->code is replaced by $this->error->getCode();
  • $this->error->message is replaced by $this->error->getMessage();


In some cases your converted template may not be shown in the Template Manager even though all coding appears to be correct. Verify that your template files are installed in the /templates directory. Then run the Discover process as follows.

  1. Go to Administrator > Extensions > Extension Manager > Discover
  2. Click the Discover icon.
  3. If your template appears on the list, select it and then click the Install icon.

Layout Overrides


If you have used the Beez overrides, or code derived from the Beez overrides, in your 1.5 template, you may encounter a JHtml::icon not supported. File not found. error when migrating the template to Joomla 1.6 and later. To fix this, simply add the following statement near the top of the template html/com_content/article/default.php file:

JHtml::addIncludePath( JPATH_COMPONENT . '/helpers' );