PHP pound sign not rendering correctly

You know how it is, your web page should have pound signs before those quantities of money but instead it’s using some alien hieroglyphic.

This was tracked down to the htmlentities php command, the very command to ensure this doesn’t happen!

It actually needs a few arguments to indicate the page encoding. So the following did the trick:

Community Builder broken in the admin console…

Had a very strange fault today whilst working on a community builder Joomla site. I had a version of the site on 2 different servers. Both working fine but the sites were using Community Builder 1.1.x, which had a security warning. So 1 upgrade later, both sites are fine again and running 1.2.1

But this was only the front-end. In the Joomla backend of one site none of the action icons for community builder were showing. There was a text hyperlink in their place, but clicking them had no effect. Creating a new user was impossible as the save button had no effect.

So, I had one site 100% fine and another with the problems in the admin console.

I assumed something had corrupted during the upgrade of the problem site so I had a sniff around:

Copied both sites my machine. Ran a diff. Everything the same.

Got a MySQL dump off both sites. Ran a diff. Both the same.

Running out of options now, filesystem and db are the same.

Permissions? Checked ok.

PHP version? Ahhhh – ok site running under PHP5, problem site with PHP4.

Kicking the server onto PHP5 sorted it. This is bound to be a requirement stated in the CB docs, which I must of missed.

So make mental note – community builder backend only works in PHP5. I don’t mind this, PHP5 is wayyy superior to 4. Upgrade all servers now!

Understanding Joolma! ACL tables

I noticed strange behavior with my Joomla site regarding user groups in the backend user manager. The usergroup (author, publisher, etc) was listed incorrectly. When clicking on the user to get the full details it was listed correctly. Checking with phpMyAdmin revealed the usertype and gid fields were set correctly so what’s going on? More poking around the database revealed some strange tables prefixed with _core_acl. Access control list? Ahhh….

A quick note of the more interesing fields of these tables: 

*Start from the users table*

jos_users.usertype = Registered/Author/Administrator/Public Frontend/etc

jos_users.gid (Full name, not username)

*List of access request objects, ie users!*

jos_core_acl_aro.value = (user id) = = 25 for Andy

jos_core_acl_aro.section_value = ‘users’ for all

*List of user access types familiar to Joomla* = jos_users.gid

jos_core_acl_aro_groups.parent_id = id of object with next less permission = jos_users.usertype

jos_core_acl_aro_groups.lft = ???

jos_core_acl_aro_groups.rgt = ???

jos_core_acl_aro_groups.value = jos_users.usertype =

*Currently empty*


*ARO sections, currently only users defined* = 10

jos_core_acl_aro_sections.value = users = Users

*groups to aro map – is this where the magic happens?*

jos_core_acl_groups_aro_map.group_id = jos_users.gid

jos_core_acl_groups_aro_map.aro_id =

jos_core_acl_groups_aro_map.section_value = currently empty

From looking at the data in these tables this is how I think (I’m using educated guesswork here!) it all works:

Link users to ARO objects, using user id:- = jos_core_acl_aro.value

Map aro objects to access groups, using the magic map:- = jos_core_acl_groups_aro_map.aro_id

Link access groups to access group description using group id:-

jos_core_acl_groups_aro_map.group_id =

In a perfect world after this link will equal jos_users.gid and will equal jos_users.usertype


Lets try a SQL query to test this, which will list the jos_users version of the user type alongside the same obtained from the acl tables:

SELECT, jos_users.gid, jos_users.usertype,,

 FROM jos_users, jos_core_acl_aro, jos_core_acl_aro_groups, jos_core_acl_groups_aro_map

 WHERE = jos_core_acl_aro.value

 AND = jos_core_acl_groups_aro_map.aro_id

 AND jos_core_acl_groups_aro_map.group_id =;


What has caused my problems is I’ve mistakenly altered the gid and usertype fields in jos_users directly so it doesn’t correlate with the correct ACL values. To correct I need to alter the magic map table:

UPDATE jos_core_acl_groups_aro_map, jos_users, jos_core_acl_aro, jos_core_acl_aro_groups

 SET jos_core_acl_groups_aro_map.group_id = jos_users.gid

 WHERE = jos_core_acl_aro.value

 AND = jos_core_acl_groups_aro_map.aro_id

 AND jos_core_acl_groups_aro_map.group_id =;


This seems to now work with the backend user list now showing the correct user type.



Making XHTML compliant url’s in Joomla

Either use

This method processes a string and replaces all instances of & with & in links only

or (probably better)

This one doesn’t pass a full url, just a site local one