CMS 22 minutes

Mambo User Manual – Part 1

Last updated: Author Jason Moth


Mambo is one of the finest Open Source Web Content Management Systems available today. Mambo makes it easy to communicate and publish on the web. Have you ever wanted to design and publish your own website with the ease of point and click, but never understood how to achieve this?

Well, have no fear! Mambo is just the ticket for you!

Mambo takes the worry out of creating web pages without having to understand how to program.  If you know how to use a standard word processor, like Microsoft Word or Open Office Writer, then you can manage a website using Mambo! Through the Mambo Administrator Web Interface, just enter your content, add a picture or two and click the save button!

Simple… Quick… And easy!

What is Mambo?

Mambo is a simple and professional Open Source (OS) Content Management System (CMS) software that anyone can use for free to easily manage a website.  It is simple enough for small websites, yet powerful enough for large-scale commercial Web sites. These are some of the advantages of using Mambo:

  • It is easy to set up and use.
  • It has a simple and unique Administration interface to manage website content.
  • It is flexible enough to create custom website designs using the template system.
  • It is easy to add content and images.
  • It is designed with simplicity and flexibility for everyone. From the non-technical webmaster to the advanced programmer, it is designed to make it simple to add content.

What is Open Source?

Open Source is a catch-all term, describing several parts of the Free Software license movement. Here are some organizations that have contributed to defining Open Source licenses:

What can I use Mambo for?

Mambo can be used for many different types of websites, such as:

  • Portals
  • Commercial websites
  • Intranet / Extranet
  • Non-profit websites
  • Personal websites
  • Integrated Flash websites

The key feature is the ability to allow any authorized user to add and edit content directly on the web. Multiple people can manage content within a Mambo website. They do not need to know any programming languages, such as HTML, to update their site because an ‘online WYSIWYG editor' (What You See Is What You Get) is included for formatting the text and inserting images. There is no need to ‘upload' your documents with hard to understand FTP (File Transfer Protocol) programs. Just save and publish your content and your web page is online for everyone to see!

Mambo can be used for the following applications:

  • Updating ‘Home' and ‘News' web pages, with news, articles and images.
  • Creating your own dynamically created content menus like ‘Products > Hardware >DVD Recorders, Products > Hardware > CD Recorders'
  • Uploading MS Word, MS Excel and Acrobat PDF documents for online viewing
  • Managing header, footer or side Banners (advertisement etc.)
  • Creating polls
  • Managing web links
  • Managing FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)
  • Managing news flashes
  • Managing multimedia such as .jpg, gif, bmp and .png images
  • Managing news feeds, from different news source websites
  • Managing contact and email form pages
  • Managing users with special access levels
  • Managing archive pages
  • Managing 3rd party developer's components, modules and templates. For example: E-commerce, forums, image galleries, calendar and agenda components, help desk etc.

What is Mambo's License?

Mambo is released under the GNU General Public License (GNU GPL). The GNU GPL enables a person or persons to distribute Mambo for a fee, for example the cost of burning Mambo to a CD and distributing the CDs, but not actually charging for the software itself. Mambo is free to share and modify, however, changing Mambo does not give you permission to change the license, or to sell Mambo. To do so would be in direct violation of the GPL.

With regard to Mambo, the GPL and copyright:

You MAY distribute it and charge for that service. You MAY change it, add design and content to it and you MAY charge for that. You may NOT alter the license and you must NOT alter the copyright. You do NOT have to show a ‘Powered by Mambo' graphic, as it not a copyright notice.

In other words, you must NOT pretend that Mambo is yours, and you must NOT charge people for Mambo.

Use Mambo to empower yourself and your clients by taking away the ‘Black Magic' that surrounds putting content on the Internet. Charge for the value you add and not for the hard work that the Mambo Development Team and the Mambo community have put into it.

Administrator Overview     

Mambo administration is the control center of your Mambo website. Use the admin section's elegant interface for site construction and editing and publishing content.

The admin section is divided into four areas: the Menubar, Toolbar, Infobar, and Workspace.  To access the administration area, log in with a user account with administrative privileges.

Administrator Login

A fresh installation of Mambo will have one user installed. This user is known as the Super Administrator. The Super Administrator has the login name of ‘admin'. You will create a password during the Mambo installation. For security reasons, you should rename the Super Administrator's login and password.

Each Mambo user is assigned to a group. There are currently three (3) groups of users with login privileges to the administrator back-end: Super Administrator, Administrator, and Manager. Each group's function is explained below:

Super Administrator

The Super Administrator group has access to all of the back-end (administrator) functions. Your site must have at least one user designated as a Super Administrator to perform the site's global configuration.  Users in this group cannot be deleted and cannot be switched to another group.


The Administrator Group has slightly restricted access to the Back-end (Administrator) functions. Administrators cannot:

  • Add or edit a user in the Super Administrator group
  • Access the global configuration settings
  • Access the mass mail function
  • Manage/install templates
  • Manage/install language files


The Manager Group is generally restricted to matters of content creation. A user in this group, in addition to the restrictions of an Administrator, cannot:

  • Manage users
  • Install modules
  • Install components
  • Access some components (as determined by the Super Administrator)


The Menubar is divided into ten sections: Home, Site, Menu, Content, Components, Modules, Mambots, Installers, Messages, System and Help.  Each section has an associated drop down menu. The menu bar is your navigation center within the Admin Section.

NOTE: To exit without saving an edit, you must use the Cancel button and not back button of your browser when editing items. If you use the browser back button, the item will not be checked back into the system and a lock sign will prevent other users from being able to edit the item. To remove the check-out lock, simply edit the item and save it properly or perform a global checkin using the Global Checkin button under the System menu.


The Infobar displays the following information (in order):

  1. the name of your Web site
  2. your current location within the Admin Section
  3. the name of the user logged in, i.e.'Logged in as Admin'
  4. the number of outstanding messages that you have from other Administrators, using the messaging function in My Admin
  5. the number of users currently online

The site name and your location are shown on the Pathway, a textbox on the upper left side of the Admin page.

Messages, number of users online, and your username appear in the upper right.


The Workspace is the area immediately below the Menubar and Toolbar that displays the controls for the menu item currently selected.  The workspace updates when you make a menu selection or use a tool from the toolbar. The default setting is to the Control Panel.

Control Panel

The left side of the Control Panel presents icons for the primary content management items:

The right side of the Control Panel presents tabs for access to the installed components' menus, a list of popular content items, information about the latest items added to the system (including the title, date, and author), and menu statistics.

All icons and text lines on the Control Panel are clickable and will bring the selected item's controls into the Workspace.

Toolbar Icons

Publish: This icon is to publish your category or items. Visitors can view these items on your web site.

Unpublish: This icon is to unpublish a category or item. Unpublishing removes the item from the public view but does not delete the category or item. To delete an item, select it and click the ‘Delete' icon.

Archive: This icon moves an item to the Archive.

New:  This icon adds a new item, section, link, etc.

Edit: This icon edits a previously created item. Be sure to select an item before clicking this icon.

Delete or Remove: This icon deletes a category or item from your website. Note that this process is not reversible. To remove an item or category temporarily, click the “Unpublish” icon.

Trash: This icon removes an item and places it in the Trash Manager.

Note: You can restore trashed items to their previous states. Simply go to the Trash Manager under the Site menu.

Move: This icon moves an item to a new Section or Category.

Apply: This icon is to save your new content or changes with the page remaining open to continue editing

Save: This icon is to save your new content or configuration changes and be returned to the previous page.

Cancel: This icon is to cancel page creation or to cancel any unsaved modifications.

NOTE: If you want to cancel creation or editing you must use this button and not the back button on your browser as this will lock the item and other content manager will be unable to modify the page.

Preview:  This icon is used to show, in a pop-up window, a preview of any changes you have made. If your web browser is set up to block pop-up windows or if you are using pop-up blocking software, you will need to change that setting or disable that software in order to see the preview.

Upload: This icon is to upload a file or image to your Web site.

NOTE: If you want to cancel creation or editing, you must use this button and not the back button on your browser in order to prevent locking “Checking Out” your page and preventing others from modifying it. When using 3rd-Party components, alternative behaviors may be assigned to some of these icons.

User Groups and Access Control

Mambo has two main hierarchies for user groups: one for access to the front-end (so users can log in to the web site and view designated sections and pages) and one for back-end administration access.

The default groups provided are:

Public front-end:

  • Registered
  • Author
  • Editor
  • Publisher

Public back-end:

  • Manager
  • Administrator
  • Super Administrator

Global Configuration

Global Configuration is the main configuration center in Mambo. Changes made in this area will update your configuration.php file. This file needs to be writable in order for you to be able to edit your configuration. To do this please follow the instructions at the bottom of this section.

Make your Configuration editable: Open FTP and go to your site root and use chmod on the configuration.php file to 777.

For additional security return configuration.php to chmod 644 after making changes. Additional information on chmod and permissions can be found at

Global Configuration provides the following 10 tabs for controlling your options:

  • Site
  • Locale
  • Content
  • Database
  • Server
  • Metadata
  • Mail
  • Cache
  • Statistics
  • SEO

Global Configuration controls Mambo's operational settings. Changes made on this screen will update the configuration.php file. This file needs to be writable in order for you to be able to edit your configuration.

To the right of the write status of configuration.php is a checkbox labeled “Make unwritable after saving”. Checking this box will change the file permissions of configuration.php to unwritable once you have applied your changes. When your site is configured, it is a good idea to make configuration.php unwritable for security reasons.

Site Tab

Site Offline – With this you can effectively switch on and off your website ‘front-end'. Use this option if you are updating modules or data, and do not wish to have your visitors view the site until you are finished. Remember to reset the “Site offline” option to “No” once you're done.

Offline Message – When the Site Offline switch is in the ‘Yes’ position, this default message will display on the ‘front-end' for your visitors to see.  “This site is down for maintenance. Please check back again soon.”

You can change this text to whatever message you would like.

System Error Message – This message will display if the initial database connection fails.  You can type anything you like in this box. We suggest something friendly and apologetic, stating that your site will be available again as soon as possible. You can use standard HTML code in this box also, for instance, <br /> to return a line. You might also consider adding an email address, so that your visitors can contact your System Administrator or the Webmaster.

Site Name – This option allows you to set the content of the title bar for your site. It can also be displayed in your template by inserting the following code statement into your template file [Mambo_root/templates/template name/index.php] where you wish your Site Name to appear:

<?php echo $_CONFIG->SITENAME; ?>

Show Unauthorized Links – With this option turned on, all visitors will see content to which they would not otherwise have access, (that is, content given an Access Level of ‘Registered' or ‘Special'). With this option off they will only see content with an Access Level of ‘Public'.  The access level for Content is selected under the Publishing tab in the Edit Content screen.

Allow User Registration – This option allows you to globally set whether visitors to your site can register for a user account. If the “Yes” radio button is chosen, the Login Form will include the prompt “No account yet? Create one? If the “No” radio button is chosen, they will not be presented with an option to register.

Use New Account Activation – If the “Yes” radio button is chosen, an activation link will be sent to user's e-mail address. Users can not log in until they have clicked on the activation link.  If the “No” radio button is chosen, Users will be able to login right away without activation.

Email New User Password – With this option set to ‘Yes', the new user will receive an email with a password generated by Mambo. If it is set to ‘No', new Users will select their own password.

Require Unique Email – Select whether you want to prevent registration with duplicate e-mail addresses. In combination with user activation this option prevents users from signing up several times using the same e-mail address.

Debug Site – This option allows you to view the error messages that are created by your site's php installation. It can be a handy tool for debugging if you are having problems and for reporting errors to your System Administrator or Web host. The levels of error reporting can be set under the Global Configuration>Server tab, and are as follows:

System Default, None, Simple and Maximum.

WYSIWYG Editor – Choose which of the installed Text Editors you want to use to edit Content Items.

List Length – Choose a default length for lists in the Administrator (Back-end). Please NOTE that if you have previously visited a page with a list, changing this setting in Global Configuration will not be immediately visible. However, the setting you specify will be honored as a default upon your next login.

Favorites Site Icon – This sets the icon that appears in some browsers next to the name and/or address of your site.  By default this is the Mambo flower.  If you want another icon to show up, you must upload another icon to replace the Mambo flower.  Then type in the address of the image in this field.

Locale Tab

Language – Choose the default language used on your site.  If it is another language other than English, you must install the language files first using the Installer menu in the Back-end.

Time Offset – This option sets the time offset in hours between your server location and GMT (Greenwich Mean Time – UK). Select the offset time from the dropdown menu.

Country Locale – Type the location of your Web site.  For instance en_GB would be the setting for the UK.

Content Tab

Linked Titles – Select ‘Yes', if you want the title of a content item to be hyper-linked.  Select ‘No', and a ‘Read On…' link will appear below the introduction text.

Read More Link – Select “Show” to display the text “Read more” at the end of your “Intro Text” of your content items.

Item Rating / Voting – This option allows the rating of content items.  Choose ‘Yes', and a ‘Star Bar' will be shown on each content item, as well as a form for submitting your rating. NOTE: The rating form is not shown for articles in ‘Blog' lists, and the Star Bar is only shown for those items with Intro text.

Author Names – Choose the radio button “Show”, to allow the Author's name to be shown when a Content Item is displayed.

Created Date and Time – Choose the radio button “Show”, to allow the creation date and time to be shown when a content item is displayed.

Modified Date and Time – Choose the radio button “Show”, to allow the last modified date and time to be shown when a content item is displayed.

Hits – Choose the radio button “Show”, to display the number of hits an article/content has had.

PDF Icon – Choose the radio button “Show”, to show the PDF maker icon on Content Items while viewing in the Front-end.

NOTE:  This will not display at all if your media directory is not writable.

Print Icon – Choose the radio button “Show”, to show the Printer Friendly Version icon on Content Items while viewing in the Front-end.

Email Icon – Choose the radio button “Show”, to show the Email Page to Friend icon on Content Items while viewing in the Front-end.

Icons – Choose the radio button “Show”, when you want the hidden links to Email/Print/PDF to be icons rather than text.

Table of Contents on multi-page items – Choose the radio button “Show”, to show the Table of Content navigation index boxes for multi-page Content Items. To create page breaks in your Content Item, you must insert a page break Mambot, {mospagebreak} using the editor wherever you want the page breaks to occur.

Back Button – Choose the radio button “Show”, to allow you to show navigational back buttons on each page to make it easier for users to navigate your site.

Content Item Navigation – Choose the radio button “Show”, to publish ‘Next’ and ‘Previous' links when viewing Content Items in a category or to change pages within the same article.

Multi Lingual content support – This allows the site to utilize the MambelFish component. The MambelFish component must be installed for this to work.

Database Tab

Warning:  These are very important settings. If your Mambo website has been installed on your behalf do not alter these settings.

Hostname – Type ‘localhost' as this is the typical Host name

My SQL Username – Edit, if needed, the username to access your Mambo database.

My SQL Password – Edit, if needed, the password to access your Mambo database.

My SQL Database – Edit, if needed, the name of the database your Mambo installation uses.

My SQL Database Prefix – Edit, if needed, the prefix used for records in your Mambo database. Typically “mos_” by default.


Server Tab

These items are predefined during the installation and are not configurable through this tab.

Absolute Path – This is the directory information used by Mambo on the server that orientates it to its surrounding system.

Live Site – This is the absolute URL (web address) for your installation of Mambo.

Secret Word – This is the unique word for every Mambo installation. It is used for security functions.

GZIP Page Compression – Choose the radio button “Yes”, to allow your web server to send compressed data, if supported by the server, to the client web browser. This could significantly decrease the load time of your site for your visitors.

Login Session Lifetime – Type the number of seconds the Administration session should be allowed to stay live before automatic logout occurs. After automatic logout, the Administrator will be required to login again using the correct username and password.

NOTE: If you are editing a Content Item, but have not saved your work, within the number of seconds chosen, you will be logged out automatically.

Error Reporting – If this option is enabled under the Site tab, then using the drop down box, select the level or reporting required.

Options are System Default, None, Simple and Maximum.

  • System Default – This turns Error reporting to the system default according to php.ini on the server.
  • None – This turns off error reporting.
  • Simple –  This turns error reporting to simple options using the following options: error_reporting (E_ERROR|E_WARNING|E_PARSE)
  • Maximum –  This turns error reporting to the Maximum level using the following options: error_reporting (E_ALL)

File Creation – By default, files created by the installation of components, modules and mambots inherit the server default permissions. By choosing “CHMOD new files”, you can override the server permissions.

Directory Creation – As with files, new directories will by default inherit the server default permissions. Choose “CHMOD new directories” to over-ride the server permissions.

Metadata Tab

Global Site Meta Description – Type a description of your web site used to assist Search Engines. You may want to limit your description to maybe twenty words or so, depending on the Search Engine you are targeting. Make it concise and pertinent to your site's contents. You can include some of your keywords and key phrases here too. As some search engines read more than 20 words you can add one or two sentences. Make sure that the most important part of your description is in the first 20 words.

Global Site Meta Keywords – The optimal number of characters for a keyword description is said to be between 300 and 500. Do not repeat words too often and either separate your keywords with a comma or a space, or group two or three words together. ‘Mambo Open Source' would be an example of this.

Show Title Meta Tag – Shows the Title meta tag in the source code when viewing content.

Show Author Meta Tag – Shows the Authors meta tag in the source code when viewing content.

NOTE: The Description and Keyword Meta tags will have a bearing on how Search Engines will index your site. Some Search Engines completely ignore Metadata altogether. You should do some research on Search Engine Optimization if high rankings and Search Engine traffic are important to you.

Mail Tab

Mailer – Choose which mailer you wish to use: PHP mail function, Sendmail or SMTP Server.

Mail From – Choose which email address will show as the sender.

From Name – Choose what name will show as the sender.

Sendmail Path – This is the directory of the Mail server

SMTP Auth – Choose “Yes” if SMTP Authentication is required by your host.

SMTP User – If authentication is required and set above, type your username.

SMTP Pass – If authentication is required and set above, type your password.

SMTP Host – This is usually set as localhost, but you may need to check this with your host.

Cache Tab

Caching – Choose “Yes” to allow for caching of certain elements within Mambo. This will generally improve the performance of your site.

Cache Folder – This is the folder or directory to store the cache files. This must be writable for this caching to be successfully implemented. Contact your Web Master if you have any difficulties.

Cache Time – Edit the maximum length of time, in seconds, for a cache file to be stored before it is refreshed.

Statistics Tab

Statistics – Choose ‘Yes', to allow the browser and visitor domain statistics to be collected on the basis of settings in the Content Tab. If this is set to ‘No', the browser and visitor statistics will not be collected. If your site experiences a slight ‘delay' the first time a user visits the site you should set this to ‘No'.

Log Content Hits by Date – Choose “Yes” to enable logging of the hits on Content Items, on a daily basis. There are currently no in-built analysis routines, to complement this logging feature.

Warning: This will tend to collect masses of data over time. Be sure that your server space has the space to store this information.

Log Search Strings – Choose “Yes” to enable logging of the search text, entered by a user. Such logging facilitates the ‘tuning' of your web site, giving you an insight into how your visitors are trying to find the information they seek. Analysis reporting is provided under Site->Statistics->Search Text.


Search Engine Friendly URLs:  This changes the way site links are presented and optimizes them so that search engines can access more of your site. This option is ONLY available to sites hosted on Apache servers.  Choose ‘Yes' to enable Mambo to output friendly URLs rather than normal database generated URLs. If you use this option you must rename your htaccess.txt file to .htaccess.

Dynamic Page Titles – Choose “Yes” to set the page titles (that appear at the top of a viewer’s browser) to be the same as the page title they are viewing. Again, this helps search engines.

NOTE:  You must ‘Save' your changes once you have finished, using the ‘Save' icon in the tool bar.

Leave a reply
Comment policy: We love comments and appreciate the time that readers spend to share ideas and give feedback. However, all comments are manually moderated and those deemed to be spam or solely promotional will be deleted.