Joom!Fish and the Mambot that was

Joom!Fish is a great tool for building a multilingual website if you want to maintain control over various translations. Simply put, it’s an extension of Joomla which allows you create a website with more than one language version.

It was inspired by a school of piranhas.

Some background

I was working on a booking system for travel packages for tourists coming to the then FIFA World Cup 2010 competition in South Africa. The travel packages were mainly targeted at Brazillians, so they had to be detailed on the website in both Portuguese and English.

There are a number of tools for multi-lingual websites that do translations for you automatically.

I've found such tools to be terrible at direct translation.

I resorted to Google, and I discovered Joom!Fish.

Side Note: Please go through the documentation or videos for installation steps and tips to get JoomFish going. It unnecessarily took me about 3 hours (should take you much less having read this blog post). Mine is not to guide you through installation steps.

There’s a secret Brazillian Piranha-god ritual prayer that one can sing when being attacked by Piranhas and the school will leave you unharmed.

Unfortunately that’s not applicable in our binary.

This blog post details some lessons learnt that might save you when you consider using JoomFish (NB: Joom!Fish is now in version 2.2 ad Joomla! on version 1.5).

Lesson 1

The documentation states that Joom!Fish 1.7 requires Joomla 1.0.7 or above and write access to the following directories:


This means that if you’re installing Joom!Fish on a remote server you’d have to change the respective folder permissions.

If you’re using Joomla! version 1.5 you’ll notice that this mambots folder does not exist!

After some more Google I found that, since version 1.5 the Mambots folder had been renamed to plugins.

In the time of discovering this solution a gastrotrich had lived a good part of its life!

Lesson 2

After installation I noticed that the default flag for the Brazillian Portuguese language pack was wrong (it displayed the Spanish flag).


If you go to the Joom!Fish “Language Manager” there is a text-field for specifying which image to use. I tried specifying the file location in this text-field and it didn't work.

After much fiddling around I changed the “Short Code” text field to 'br' and got the right flag. To get the Short Code for your chosen country, you’ll have to look through the Joom!Fish flag images folder.


Lesson 3

A case of re-occurrence of events whose lessons were mildly taken.

What makes it more frustrating is that I had also blogged about it a while back.

Remember that the folder where temporary data is stored should be /var/www/tmp/ in your config file.

Image credit: Sweetie187