What, another new version of Joomla came out today? But didn’t Joomla 1.6 take over 3 years to develop and just come out a matter of months ago? Yes, indeed it did. In fact, this is the first release on Joomla’s new 6-month release schedule, since version 1.6 was released in January 2011. Joomla 1.8 is scheduled to be released in January 2012.
So what does this mean for Joomla users and web designers? Is it a worthwhile upgrade? What if I’m designing a new site?
The answer to these questions will depend largely on your situation and needs, and if you have an existing Joomla site, what version you are currently running. Today’s release is the answer to some security and development issues.
For the average user, security is going to be the primary upgrade factor with over 300 bug fixes and security patches. The other major feature is the new built-in updater called ‘Quick Update’. To anyone with an existing Joomla site, as well as web designers managing numerous Joomla sites, today marks an exciting day in the CMS world. This has been a highly sought after feature, and one that used to help WordPress win CMS battles. With one-click version updating, the excuses to neglect upgrades will soon run thin. Joomla just climbed a few more rungs of the security ladder.
Some other seemly-minor features that may be useful to the average user:
- the ability to add a background image to the custom HTML module
- the ability to specify the site name before or after the page title
- a “remove installation folder” button as part of the installation process.
For a developer, the latest release of this open source content management system is going to be far more important. Joomla 1.7′s framework is now completely separated from the CMS – meaning that it’s possible to build new applications with the Joomla framework.
The big issue remains for 1.5 & older users: In order to start enjoying this Quick Update feature, you will need to go through a painful & not-quick-at-all upgrade to get your site up to 1.6.5 before you can actually update to 1.7. It should also be noted that any themes or extensions you may have installed will also have to be 1.7 compatible.
The push towards updating to 1.7 is being accelerated by the fact that Joomla 1.6 comes to the end of it’s short life next month. After August 2011 there will be no more updates issued for any security vulnerabilities or bugs that pop up. Joomla is urging anyone already running 1.6 to upgrade, but there are mixed messages being delivered for 1.5 users: “If your Joomla 1.5 site is working well, I would not move it yet. Joomla 1.5 will be supported through April 2012. Joomla 1.8 will be released in January 2012, and it is a long-term release, meaning it will be supported for 18 months instead of 6 months.“
Furthermore, the situation is still unclear for anyone building a new website. The stipulation is that any extensions you need must be 1.7 compatible, and many extensions (such as shopping carts) are still only available for 1.5, as this was the last long-term release. Most minor extensions that are common for 1.6 should work with 1.7 – but as with any upgrade, there are no guarantees.
So is it worth upgrading? You decide.