According to Joomla developers, the first stable version for branch 1.6 will appear in the mid-to-late first quarter of 2010. As a considerable number of our customers use Joomla we decided that it is a good idea to see in details what is coming. Thus we will be ready to make all the necessary updates in our Joomla hosting, Joomla templates and Joomla tutorials to meet all the needs of the new Joomla users. Below we will share our experience with the second Alpha version of Joomla 1.6. This is still a very early stage in the new Joomla release and that's why we will neglect all the bugs inherent to this level of the development.
Joomla 1.6 hosting by SiteGround - Only here you get a Free Joomla 1.6 installation
As we are proud to maintain one of the biggest galleries for Free Joomla Templates, and we plan to continue providing templates for the new Joomla, our first area of investigation naturally was the Joomla templates.
Our first impression is that Joomla 1.6 is not much different from Joomla 1.5, especially on the frontend. By default it comes with the well-known template Rhuk Milkyway, which is exactly the same as in the previous stable release. So are Joomla 1.5 templates compatible with Joomla 1.6? The answer is 'generally yes' and a proof for that is the working Rhuk Milkyway template. The fact is that the template engine itself has not changed. However, many templates rely on core Joomla functions which have been changed in the new version. This means that they will give PHP errors/warnings and will definitely fail. We have tried a few popular templates from leading providers and all of them gave errors. That's why we believe that most third party Joomla 1.5 templates will need to be modified more or less in order to become fully compatible with version 1.6.
Joomla 1.6 templates now available at SiteGround.com
The next question is about the compatibility of the Joomla 1.5 extensions. Our tests show that no popular Joomla 1.5 extension works correctly in version 1.6. According to Joomla devs updates are to be expected for all extensions so that they can work properly with the new Joomla. In most cases those updates should be minor if the extension is written on the native 1.5 API. However, extensions relying on the Legacy Mode will not work at all. This implies the idea that there will be no longer legacy mode in version 1.6. SiteGround support team will continue to follow the development of the Joomla extensions compatibility and will be ready to offer extension installation as part of its professional Joomla support, once the new version is released.
Joomla upgrade from 1.5 to 1.6
Of course, an upgrade from version 1.5 to 1.6 is envisaged. The upgrade feature is in the to-do-list for Joomla 1.6 but its current progress is 0%. This will cool down all enthusiasts who dream of early migration to Joomla 1.6. Here we will be monitoring the progress too, so that we can once again offer professional upgrade for our existing customers' website once this is possible.
Joomla Admin Panel
Now that we've quickly gone over the general things, let's peek inside the Joomla 1.6 administrator panel. Its default admin template is slightly redesigned but as a whole most positions are preserved from the previous version. There we find the following new features and changes:
- viewing and editing of categories and articles;
- using components and modules;
- using (viewing) user profile directories and files;
2. The next notable improvement is that the complex article management model of sections/categories has been substituted with a simpler categories/sub-categories model. This will definitely be a great relief to all novice Joomla users.
3. The next interesting thing is that the former 'Frontpage' articles option is renamed to 'Featured'. This is definitely more precise because a featured article may appear not only on the frontpage. This improvement will help to decrease the overall confusion.
4. Last but not least, there is a functionality for 'Update'. While at this stage it is unclear how exactly it will work, we suppose it will be something similar to the update functionality found in WordPress. In other words, updating your Joomla and extensions should be done with just a few clicks.
Our conclusion is that Joomla 1.6 is an important step forward. The improvements on usability and security have impressed us. Still, there are many more things to be desired. The SEO/SEF functionality for example is untouched and there are no plans for its improvement. If you are interested in learning all the new things planned and their progress, please check the official Joomla 1.6 status page.
Finally, if you wonder when you will have to migrate to the new Joomla 1.6, chances are that it will not be before the second half of 2010. At least not if you want to have third party extensions and templates working.
Product Development – Technical