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I just started working with a client that is coming to me from another person that managed his site for him. His site is already being hosted on Joomla and he wants to keep it there, but wants me to make some changes. I generally always use raw HTML, JS, PHP, CSS, Ruby, ... when building/managing websites and I have never used these pre-built template services before and they are a LOT more complicated then just working with the raw code.

Is there a way to just get in and edit the code?

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    What exactly are you trying to change? Depending on what you wish to change, depends on what files say you need to edit :) – Lodder Mar 11 '17 at 23:25
  • Here is a list with links to where you can learn more about Joomla: Beginner Tutorials – FFrewin May 2 '17 at 10:07
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Depending on the purpose, there can be some advantages in using a CMS compared to a static HTML website and this is why Joomla has been downloaded over 80 million times as at March 2017.

Updating Content

Content is not stored directly in HTML files in Joomla but is usually stored in tables in the Joomla database. You could use a tool like phpMyAdmin or similar to edit content directly but it is usually much easier to use the Joomla Administration tools such as the Article Manager and the Module Manager.

Updating Code

Directly editing the Joomla core code is usually a mistake because subsequent Joomla and third party extension updates can overwrite your changes and Joomla and third party extension updates need to be done regularly to keep Joomla websites secure.

Joomla Overrides

The recommended way to use your own code in Joomla is to create an override.

Styling Override

Similarly, and depending on the template you are using, you can use a custom CSS file or a third party extension to override the styling.

Creating your own Extensions

Other ways to use your own code are to create a component, module, plugin or template.

Inserting Code

You can install a third party extension such as the free or paid version of Regular Labs Sourcerer which enables PHP and other code to be inserted into an article or Custom HTML module.

Static HTML Website

Another option (but maybe not possible for this particular client) is to convert the site to a static HTML website and then edit the code directly. Of course, going down this route can't easily be reversed and you lose the advantages of a CMS.

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The first and most important thing for you to know and understand is that Joomla! and all its extensions are designed to be upgraded by their developers with the upgrades then spread to all Joomla! installations using the built-in upgrade mechanism. Also understand that many of those upgrades contain fixes to severe security vulnerabilities, so that while not doing the upgrades is possible, it is usually also stupid.

What this means is that "just get in and edit the code" will usually end up in tears and frustration. You can do it, but you have to actually understand how Joomla! and the various ways it lets developers extend and override what happens work for it to be worth it. Otherwise you'll spend all your time either explaining why the site is not working or trying to fix it. And if you understand those mechanisms it is simply much easier to just use them.

Your situation is bit problematic since you have expertise you'd naturally like to use and no general desire to spend time learning Joomla! That said learning at least basics of Joomla! development and then asking advice on the specifics of what you need is probably the most efficient approach overall.

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