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on Wednesday, 03 February 2016

Exploring Joomla's version control system

Since Joomla 3 was released, content articles have had an option which can be selectively enabled to allow version control - saving a specified number of previous versions where changes are made to the content or settings of an article, and permitting rolling back to older versions.

This article will explore how to enable and use the version control system, a later article will explore how you can effectively version control all your editable content with a couple of handy plugins.

Version control - an introduction

What is version control?

Version control is a principle which allows you to save copies of changes made to any resources, allowing change sets to be rolled back to previous versions.  Within content, this can be really handy - for example if somebody makes an error, or there are changes made which need reverting.

Why use version control on your website?

Using version control on your website means that you have a history of changes made to your resources - which can be extremely helpful if you make a change and need to revert back to a previous version, or to see what changes have been made over time.

Version control also allows you to see who made changes, compare one version with another, and to ensure that certain versions are always retained - for example if you need to retain past modifications of your terms and conditions for legal reasons.

How does version control help me run my website?

Having a solid version control system allows you to keep track of changes that have been made, and of course to revert back at any point in time.  Think of it as a 'belt and braces' approach - particularly if you have complex inline styling or similar which can easily be wiped out by unsuspecting users!

Using version control in Joomla!

How do I enable version control?

Version control ships by default with all versions of Joomla since 3.2 - if you're doing a new installation then it will be enabled by default, but if you're upgrading from an earlier version you will need to enable it under Content>Options>Editing Layout - which also allows you to set how many revisions should be saved.

joomla version control enable 

How do I view previous versions of an article?

When version control is enabled and you have made more than one edit to an article, you will see a 'Versions' button appear in the toolbar.

joomla version control versions

Clicking on this button will show you the versions available for that article.  Selecting the check box next to an article will allow you to press the 'restore' button to revert back to that version.

joomla version control available revisions

If you want to compare two versions, you can select the check boxes and press the 'Compare' button which will show a side-by-side comparison of the articles, highlighting the changes in green (additions) or red (deletions).

joomla version control comparison

How do I ensure that a specific version is not deleted?

Sometimes you might need to ensure that specific versions of an article are not cycled out when the maximum number of revisions are reached - simply select the revision and click the 'keep on/off' button to toggle persistent versions.



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