Dropdowns Not Working in Joomla’s 1.5 Backend

We had a very odd task today. A client called us and told us that she can’t add a new article (or update an existing one) on her Joomla 1.5 website (yes, even in May of 2014 there are still many websites using Joomla 1.5), because both the section dropdown and the category dropdown are empty (so, when she tries to save, Joomla tells her that she must choose a section and a category first).

We checked the website and we immediately saw the problem. Not only that, there wasn’t a single dropdown working on the whole website! Any page in the admin section of the site requiring dropdowns did not work, because the dropdowns were all empty. So we started the investigation.

We first checked the file that was at the heart of the select input (dropdown) generation, which is the file select.php located under the libraries/joomla/html/html folder. In that file, we checked the function responsible for doing the whole job, which is the genericlist function. The function was returning an HTML string consisting of an empty dropdown, but the array being passed as a parameter was not empty. This confirmed our doubts that the problem had nothing to do with the database, but rather with the function itself – possibly a PHP issue? Let’s find out!

Now, since the function is not generating any option tags, then it means the problem was in this line:

$html .= JHTMLSelect::Options( $arr, $key, $text, $selected, $translate );

Luckily, the function options was in that very same file, so we checked it. The parameters passed to it were all OK, but that function wasn’t returning anything. Why?

So we added the following lines (for debugging) to the options function:

ini_set('display_errors', '1');

And the magic happened! We started seeing the real issue when we refreshed the page; we saw these 2 errors:

Strict Standards: Non-static method JHTML::_() should not be called statically, assuming $this from incompatible context in /httpdocs/administrator/components/com_config/controllers/application.php on line 90

Strict Standards: call_user_func_array() expects parameter 1 to be a valid callback, non-static method JHTMLSelect::genericlist() should not be called statically in /httpdocs/libraries/joomla/html/html.php on line 91

Strict Standards: call_user_func_array() expects parameter 1 to be a valid callback, non-static method JHTMLSelect::option() should not be called statically in /httpdocs/libraries/joomla/html/html.php on line 91

Aha! The problem was some outdated PHP code (PHP used to be tolerant to wrong code before, but it’s getting more and more stricter). In short, there were some non-static methods that were called statically.

So, how did we solve the problem?

Glad you asked! All we needed to do was to add the word static to the declaration of all the functions in the aforementioned select.php file, as well as to the function _ (underscore) in the html.php file (which is located under the /libraries/joomla/html/ folder), and to the function _ (also underscore) in the file methods.php (located under the libraries/joomla folder). So, for example, we changed the following line:

function option( $value, $text='', $value_name='value', $text_name='text', $disable=false )


static function option( $value, $text='', $value_name='value', $text_name='text', $disable=false )

That fixed the problem!

But what caused the problem in the first place?

These problems are usually caused by a PHP update on the server. As mentioned earlier in this post, newer PHP versions are no longer tolerant to wrong/ambiguous PHP code.

If you need help implementing the above then please contact us. We will definitely fix the problem for you, we won’t charge you much, and we’ll do the work in no time!

No comments yet.

Leave a comment