New, up-to-date information about Joomla 3.5 you can find in our second article “Joomla 3.5 – All you need to know“.
We’ve recently seen the release of Joomla! 3.4.1, which was a maintenance release adding a few fixes, but now it looks like the time has come for another update, this time making the jump to Joomla 3.5. As the Joomla! versioning strategy says, 3.5, using the x.x version naming convention, will be a major version release as opposed to a minor maintenance release that usually will take on a x.x.x naming style (like 3.4.1, 3.3.6 etc.).
Hearing the word “major” might make you think that something big is coming with a lot of new features, but the Joomla! team’s new development strategy is intended to not just add new features, but to also clean up and simplify existing elements to make for a more robust, flexible package that will act as light base for expanding the scope and functionality of Joomla! in the future. If you’re hankering for some new features though, there is a light at the end of the tunnel – on the Joomla! repository I’ve found some pending pull requests which may lead to a huge upgrade to the existing Media Manager. Let’s keep our fingers crossed that enough volunteers and developers are available to test this element to ensure its inclusion in the upcoming Joomla! release.
Lightening the load of the Joomla core
Cast your mind back and you may remember that Joomla! 3.4 introduced a new, but welcome concept that will be greatly expanded in Joomla! 3.5. In the 3.4 release a component called com_weblinks and all associated modules and plugins were removed; the first step in simplifying the core Joomla package and establishing a procedure for removing unnecessary components. In Joomla! 3.5 we may expect (according to the official roadmap) that the core installation will not contain components like:
This takes a lot of weight from the core, keeping Joomla! as light as possible so that after install your back-end Components menu list will be very short. But don’t worry if you’re a big user of these components – all this extensions will still be available via the JED (Joomla! Extensions Directory) in a dedicated category called Core-Supported Extensions. At the moment though there no way to preview how it will look because even on the GitHub repository the development version is marked as 3.5-dev. The branch name may be misleading because the package is actually 3.4.2-dev, so perhaps after installation we’ll only see a minor release for the 3.4 line.
Why remove extensions?
Do you remember Mambo? Not the dance, but the Open Source Content Management System that was very popular in the early 2000s? The latest official release was completed back in June 26, 2008 and then the project was completely closed due to a rather popular fork version called Joomla!. Why mention Mambo here? Believe it or not, we’re not just writing this for the benefit of the other older users among us; if you look at version 1.0 of Joomla! you’ll see that it was a mirror of the current Mambo release of the time. So why does that matter? Well, even in this relatively ancient CMS you’ll find some components that are still quite well-known in Joomla, like Banners, Contacts, News Feeds and Web Links.
This means that these parts have been included in Joomla for the last ten years! Ten years is a heck of a long time in web development, and websites now are much more complex and versatile than they were back in 2005. With these older components being part of an archaic CMS it’s definitely a good step to remove them from the core, as long as their functionality is still available to those that need it. With less code and shorter extension lists Joomla! should be easier for beginners to get to grips with, and you can easily extend base functionality by installing missing components and modules.
By the way, if you have a curious streak or are getting on a bit and like to bask in nostalgia then you can check out how Mambo looked via this live demo. The administrator access is provided and you can use the generic admin as login and demo for password to see how things have changed in the last decade. You’d be surprised how similar at least conceptually Joomla! is to Mambo even when you look at Joomla’s latest releases, though naturally it boasts a much greater range of functionality and user friendliness.
New sample data options incoming
Sample data is something that’s been around since the beginning of Joomla!; it provides a simple base to build your content from with dummy articles, categories etc…so you can see how things will look so you can make visual and design tweaks without messing around creating your own content first. It’s great for speeding-up the development process but it has drawbacks, most notably that the content must be added during the Joomla installation process. Right now there was no way to add this data after setup, so if you decide after getting Joomla! up and running that you want to use the sample data you have to start from scratch and reinstall the whole of Joomla to do it. Thankfully, with Joomla! 3.5 sample data will be moved to post install, which makes installation faster and access to this data easier, so you don’t need to make any decisions before you’re ready.
New Media Manager still not confirmed
The official Joomla! Roadmap doesn’t mention any new features for the 3.5 release, focusing instead on getting the core experience running smoothly. We’re expecting the first significant improvements for regular users should come around in versions 3.8 and 3.9, but the improved media manager mentioned earlier in this article is already waiting for tests and approval on the 3.5-dev GitHub repository. If you want to look at the code it is available on GitHub and as the authors says in one of the last comments:
I’d also like to see this in Joomla! 3.5
Which means that most of work is done and now it’s time for tests and fixes.
The new Media Manager will probably be one of the biggest improvements for the com_media component in a long time. The work on this update started way back in January 2014 and it looks like most of changes are ready to go. The status of this project and a detailed description about the changes in media manager functionality are available in this Google Docs document. This project will change almost every part of existing media manager by adding a complete new file manager interface, which will hopefully be a bit more intuitive for newcomers. With it, the author creates Categories inside their media structure to easily manage graphic files, and a Drag & Drop Uploader is also provided for faster file management.
The new approach to the com_media component also adds an extended image editor with crop, resize, rotate, create thumbnails and custom filter options. Last but not least in this refreshed component is the possibility to add tags and labels per media file in an article or category. It really looks like a great step up that will improve the core usability of Joomla!, making it more manageable and effective for users of all skill levels.
LTS or STS release?
As the first Roadmap says Joomla! 3.5 will be a Long Term Support (LTS) release which means that it will be supported by at least 24 months. We all know that the release strategy has been quite confusing recently, especially when it’s changed so often, but the latest statements from the Joomla team says the main major version should appear within 2 years, so at least for this period Joomla! 3.5.x will be supported.
A major series may be declared end-of-life (and hence become unsupported) only after at least 2 years have elapsed since the most recent minor release in that series. What this means is that each time a minor release is made it resets the support clock for that series, thus ensuring that a major series will enjoy extended life for as long as there is sufficient interest in producing minor releases for it. Patch releases do not reset the support clock.
What’s Joomla 3.5’s release date?
If we go back to the old version naming convention for Joomla then it originally stated that Joomla! 3.5 should be available in March 2014 (no, that wasn’t a typo!), but details have been a bit scarce since the introduction of the newer version-naming scheme. However, development has been moving swiftly along so it looks that we can expect this version to make an appearance soon. The official documents say only that Data is tba (to be announced) so all that we can do is to keep an eye on the development repository and support volunteers as they perform their testing to see when things are coming together. Of course, once there’s an official announcement on the release date or development we’ll be sure to keep you updated, so watch this space!