Many Joomla user wonder about what is going to happen to Joomla in the future. Where are we headed, and how long do we have to wait for the features we long for?
In this post, I'll give you an overview of how Joomla is going to progress in the years to come.
The Joomla development team have changed the development cycle lately, to move Joomla forward faster. Vice president of Open Source Matters, Rob Schley, did a presentation on Joomla 1.6 at the JoomlaDay New England recently (the sound quality of the podcast was really bad, by the way...), and I've collected some of the information here.
Bridging the Gap
The current Joomla 1.5 platform is based on Mambo, and later Joomla 1.0. This means that we in many ways have 8-10 year old technology in the solution, making it less effective and slower. Although Joomla 1.5 is very stable, the need for more modern functionality is crucial. Other platforms have progressed faster in certain areas, and according to Rob Schely, have surpassed Joomla during the last 2-3 years.
So, it's about time we get a more modern version of Joomla, and a faster release cycle.
Two Types of Support Cycles
The dev team have decided to introduce two types of support cycles for Joomla: One short-term and one long-term. 1.5 is going to be in the long-term support cycles.
Joomla 1.6 and 1.7 will be in the short-term support cycle. The purpose of these versions is to catch up with the other platforms in terms of features. For that reason, the support cycle will be relatively short, as the project moves forward.
Although it's yet to be decided, Joomla 1.8 might be released with a long-term support cycle.
According to Rob Schley, this is the schedule for Joomla releases as we speak:
- UPDATE: Joomla 1.6 beta 1 is scheduled to be launched in late September 2009.
Read more - Update: Joomla 1.6 release plan
- Joomla 1.7 will arrive in 3-4 months after the release of 1.6
- Joomla 1.8 in another 3-4 months after the release of 1.7
What About Joomla 1.5?
If you're happy with Joomla 1.5, there's no reason to worry: Joomla 1.5 will be supported for at least 3 years (that's what the long-term support cycle means). You can continue using 1.5 if you don't need the features in 1.6, 1.7 etc. However, at some point I guess you might need to switch anyway, so take some time and consider your options when the time comes.
A More User-centric Joomla
On of the main things I got from Rob Schleys presentation was that Joomla will be more user-centric in the future. This means that the ACL (access control level) system will be dramatically improved (it's already in the alpha version). It will also be easier to create your own fields for user registration. The aim is to incorporate more user functions into the core, so that we can do more with a standard installation of Joomla. Now, the only way to create extra user fields in the registration forms is to install a component like Community Builder. Joomla 1.6 will give us the opportunity to programmatically manipulate the registration forms and add user fields to the database.
It took 2 years of hard work to find a way of creating a ACL system that is both advanced enough, and still very easy to use. The implementation itself took a matter of days. Power is in the planning!
The developers have taken into account that websites are more and more about user interaction, sharing and communities. They want to make it easier for Joomla users to build sites that harness these types of features. However, there are no plans of incorporating specific support for Facebook Connect or Twitter into the core at this stage.
System Requirements for Joomla 1.6 Onwards
Joomla 1.6 will support PHP 5.2 and higher only. This means a dramatic improvement in speed, and gives the developers far more functions to use in the development of Joomla.
All in all I think the future looks bright for Joomla. We have a development team in place who are committed and excited, and a community which grows steadily.
For me, Joomla is a great platform as it is - and with the improvements we have ahead of us I think I will stay with Joomla for a long time.
Last Note: Contribution
A last thing that I took away from the presentation was the fact that only 2-3% of the community actually give back to the project in one way or another.
Read about what you can do to contribute to the joomla project.
So, what do you think about the roadmap? Are you as excited as me?