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on Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Joomla! 1.8 – don’t you mean 2.5?!

This weekend we attended Joomla!Day UK 2011 in London, a fantastic event for all things Joomla! and a great opportunity to network with other Joomla! users. One of the popular keynote speakers was Chris Davenport, who is part of the Joomla! Leadership Team and responsible for documentation in the Joomla! project.

Chris was tasked with speaking on the topic of Joomla! 1.8 and beyond, and his presentation clarified something which has long mystified the Joomla! community – the numbering system behind Joomla! releases.

For example, why did we jump from 1.0.x to 1.5.x to 1.6.x to 1.7.x? What is next? Why are these numbers used?

We are just in the process of putting together a diagram to explain the release cycle but here are the principle points:

  • Joomla! 1.7 marked a separation of the Joomla! CMS from the Joomla! Platform
  • Joomla! now operates a fixed release schedule based on timeframes rather than feature implementation
  • Long term support releases will always end in .5 (e.g. 1.5; 2.5; 3.5), and be supported for 18 months, with the aim being a stable release – therefore few ‘new’ features will be incorporated from the end of short term releases to the beginning of long term releases
    • Examples include Joomla! 1.5 and the future release of 2.5 (January 2012)
  • Long Term Support (LTS) releases will be dropped 3 months following the launch of the next LTS (e.g. 1.5 will be dropped in April 2012)
  • Short term support releases will be released on a 6 monthly basis, and will incorporate more ‘new’ features which are markedly different to the previous Long Term Support (LTS) release – therefore will have a tendency be less stable, and may have more bug fixes.

What does this mean for web developers? Well, my take on this is that we should not ignore the short term releases. Far from it. Although it can be frustrating having a new version every six months, it is an opportunity to test out the new features being introduced prior to the next Long Term Support release (which are few and far between) and to make sure that our clients are up to date with the latest and greatest that Joomla! has to offer.

For extension developers, it’s critical to keep up to date with these short term support releases because the changes being made are likely to affect your extension on some level – whether it allows you to add extra functionality or leverage new technologies, or breaks your extension!

I wholeheartedly support moving to a fixed release schedule rather than being based on features being ready for release – if something isn’t ready for release by the date of the release, it’s not included. This in some ways can prevent buggy code being included at the last minute, but also it could serve to galvanise the community into action, if specific features are really wanted in the next release.

To end with a great quote from Chris’ talk:

“The community ARE the development team” – lets get involved and keep Joomla! development moving with the times!


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