Joomla 1.6 is here - upgrade?
Tuesday, 11 January 2011

The eagerly awaited update to the open-source content management system Joomla! has arrived. Of course the cost of moving to any new version is high and the Joomla team has compiled a list of reasons why you should make the effort.

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The most important reason for switching to Joomla 1.6 is the simple fact that it now offers an organisational tree of any depth. Earlier versions were limited to two levels of categorisation and hence menu. You could define a Section and then any number of Categories grouped under that section but that was it. Now in 1.6 you only have categories and these can be nested to create a category tree of unlimited depth. No matter what other features the new version offers - this one is the make or break reason why you either do or don't upgrade.

However it is nice to have plenty the reasons on your side. So to provide you with ammunition here's the "official" list of the top 10 reasons why Joomla! 1.6 provides more power to developers - and to be honest not all of them are pure plus points:

They fall into four categories:

Providing New and Improved User Functions.

  •  New Core Functions for Automatic Extension Updates.
    One of the hardest things for developers and end users alike is getting Webmasters to update their extensions. The update process has been, at best, clunky. The new update manager allows developers to build in automatic update functions allowing their users to update to new versions with just a few clicks. This makes it much easier to make sure everyone is up-to-date.
  • New Package Installation Capability.
    For developers offering a suite of components or extensions that rely on companion extensions, this one is for you. Developers can now package their components allowing users to install one file and include multiple extensions all at the same time!
  • Easily included Language Capabilities.
    A new language structure allows developers to include additional language packages along with their extensions.

Providing Code Improvements for Easy Integration.

  • Integrated ACL Capability.
    With just a few code changes a component can allow users to take advantage of the ACL structure. You can create new user groups and assign right to groups.
  • Upgraded System Requirements.
    The new version has abandoned support for older vesrions of PHP and now with standardisation on PHP 5.2 you can be as object oriented as you please.

Providing a Uniform Component Structure.

  • New Plugin Format.
    Plugins now have the same common structure as components and modules. Giving each their own directories allows developers to use a universal format for development for all joomla! add-ons.
  • Consistent Component Programming.
    A new method for building components has been introduced.
  • Easy Migration to 1.6.
    With Legacy Mode (the ability for components built for older versions of Joomla! to work on the current version) gone in Joomla! 1.6, all developers will have to upgrade their components to be compatible with the new version. What this means is that until all components are available in updated versions moving to 1.6 is going to be a big problem.

Providing Improved API Abilities.

  • New Query Building Class.
    The new API provides a query building class allowing developers to build queries programatically. Besides easing some of the headaches of developing for Joomla! this helps set the stage for allowing Joomla! to be compatible with other Database engines.
  • Brand New Forms API.
    The move from the JForm class to the JParameter class brings yet more changes. Besides the ability to automatically filter input, the JParameter class keeps developers from having to duplicate code for different forms. The new class also presents developers with extendability to easily create their own forms within this framework.

 

If you are convinced you can download Joomla 1.6 here.

However you need to be very aware of the fact that moving from Joomla 1.5 to 1.6 isn't so much an upgrade as a rebuild. You basically have to install Joomla! 1.6, migrate the data and images to the new system. Then you have the problem of finding, reinstalling and reconfiguring any third party components and if you have written any JavaScript to modify behaviour you will have to, at the very least, test it.

 

 

The first of two "Official Joomla" books from Joomla Press an imprint of Pearson Education is also now available but the more advanced volume is now expected in May.

To mark the launch of Joomla 1.6 user groups are encouraged to plan celebratations and there's a map to help you find them.

Related articles:

Joomla Magazine invites you to party

Joomla! the future

Building a Joomla Component with PHP and Eclipse

A Simple Joomla Module with PHP and Eclipse

More Advanced Joomla Modules with PHP and Eclipse

Forthcoming titles from Joomla Press

 

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Last Updated ( Tuesday, 11 January 2011 )
 
 

   
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