Joomla New Year

Well folks, we've had this under wraps somewhat but what better time to share some good news than at New Year.

The concrete is setting on our Joomla!™ 1.1 codeset and it will be delivering many cool features, primarily designed to provide Third Party Developers (3PDs) with more power and ease of code integration.

Yes, it's true. Joomla! 1.1 will provide an entry into a modern codeset allowing Object Orientated development, with inbuilt internationalisation (multi-lingual support), a refactored core and, FTP extension installation. Put simply, core restructuring and modernisation of code all built on a robust framework which allows the developer more power and flexibility with less effort.

  • UTF-8 built in — Internationalisation (translation of the core system) allowing multi-lingual support
  • Core Restructuring — modernisation of core, providing a more powerful, flexible framework
  • FTP uploading of extensions (components, modules, plugins, templates), resolving file ownership and Safe Mode issues
  • Database drivers — a project providing the ability for Joomla! to work with databases other than mySQL
  • Hooks for officially supported components already in the core
  • Plugin framework - a system to allow easy integration of external web applications

Apart from these incremental improvements to the code, we will be providing more sophisticated tools for 3PDs through a knowledge portal. We believe the developer "portal" will become a creativity and networking magnet.  Most of the ideas which are being implemented to build this cool place have come from the 3PD community.  A "Developer Hangout", if you like!  Third Party Developers have been asking for "more transparency" and we're creating these additional resources to do so. As always, any Joomla! code under development will always be available from the SVN, for free. No fees, no cliques, just free to anyone from anywhere.

How 1.1 has Progressed

Since Joomla's birth in Sepetember 2005, it has become a very stable and secure system. We have seen versions 1.0.1 to 1.0.5 increasing security and fixing various bugs, and a 1.0.6 release is in its final stages.  Along with these releases, three new working groups have been created to gather together the variety of excellent skillsets available within the community.

Communication Channels between the Community and the Core Team

Joomla's goals are to make the best use of talents and encourage people to join a working group, advocate the changes to 3PDs and focus the feedback into the core team via the leaders.  This structured, semi-formal process lends itself to efficient, powerful leverage from within the 3PD and user communities.

The teams which provide this conduit are:

  • The Standards & Guidelines Group for Third Party Developers, led by Marko Schmuck
  • The Usability & Accessibility Group, led by Nic Steenhout
  • The Testing & Quality Group, led by Robin Muilwijk

By taking this approach we are building the cornerstone to core to 3PDs via community interaction, and will provide a focused way of delivering results from the feedback.  Obviously this includes many of the areas mentioned previously such as WAI standards for accessibility (and 508 Compliance), hotline channels for testers and users and the developer knowlege base.  We believe these working groups will allow for better interaction between the core team and the community, especially third party developers.

The additional resources incorporated into 1.1 have taken some time — longer than we expected — but it will be well worth the wait. We intend releasing the beta soon and, in fact, this may well be the focus of an international developer conference in Europe.  More news on that later this month.

This extra time has been used to refactor the core code base and introduce clear object orientated (OO) interfaces. In the past these changes have always been put on the backburner.  We decided not to put this off any longer and bit the bullet.

Internationalisation, a high priority request from our community, is the key feature for Joomla! 1.1. Joomla! 1.1 will be using INI files for translation purposes. A language manager will be released as an official extension to assist translators in the translation process. A new version of the "Fish" as official extension should also be released shortly after 1.1 to ensure multilingual content.

Besides internationalisation, Joomla! 1.1 also features an FTP file system library. The FTP layer is used by the system for file system operations when necessary. This should eliminate any safe-mode problems.

Lastly we have also introduced foundational work to support other database platforms. MySQL, MySQLi and MySQL5 database drivers will be provided in 1.1.  As we move towards cross-database functionality, documentation will be written explaining how to write cross-database SQL, so that we can maximize the flexibility of the system in future versions.

We are confident that the system will have the backwards compatibility expected from a minor release.  A minor release indicates a significant change to functionality or architecture but with a moderate to high level of backward compatibility with previous versions.

The upcoming release of the second alpha version means that we will be feature complete. After this release we are committing ourselves to the following :

  • We will make sure that the whole API is documented
  • We will make sure that backwards compatibility problems are either solved or documented
  • We will introduce a developer portal featuring a developer blog and knowledge base.
  • We are planning (bi)-weekly developer IRC meetings to give third party developers a chance to ask questions and give feedback.

The Core Team would like to make special mention of David Gal and Louis Landry who've made significant UTF-8, FTP and refactoring contributions for this effort.  Their efforts for the Open Source community have been par excellence. 

The end goal for 1.1 is to present a flexible and powerful core framework that is fully documented and sets a new standard for all future Joomla! development.  We are very excited about the work done in the past 12 weeks and have received encouraging feedback from third party developers.  Joomla! 1.1 has been built with 3PDs in mind from the beginning.

This means there will be exciting times ahead for all users. Let's see what our fabulously creative 3PD community can make Joomla! 1.1 do.