Joomla 3.0 is finally out! As usual, I'm testing it on our servers making sure that it works flawlessly for all SiteGround folks that use this great piece of open source software.
I started installing Joomla 3.0 and writing this post simultaneously. I've just written an intro paragraph on how easy and painless the installation process is, when a nasty Internal Server Error screen appeared - right after I unpacked the official installation package. That kind of reminded me how right was the saying that one should never assume...
However, now few hours later I can still say this: the installation of Joomla 3.0 on a SiteGround account is painless, but only if you use our single-click installer Softaculous. It takes literally two clicks, has zero problems and will save you precious time that you can spend on building your actual site. I was also amazed by the speed with which our partners from Softaculous have prepared the special installation package so that it is already available for you to use!
As to the others, who were as impatient as me to install the new version before it was available in Softaculous, or simply prefer the manual installation, here are my two cents on it. Until now, all Joomla installation packages came with correct permissions of their files and folders. Joomla 3.0 package, however, has all its content writable by the "others" group. Because it is considered as a security issue this triggers an Internal Server Error message when you try to start the installation. I am saving you the quick visit to the Error Log where you should generally look for reasons why this error appears - it's all about the permissions. You can use FileZilla or other FTP client software and simply remove the writing permissions for the "others" group with it. Remove them for all files and folders, FileZilla and other good FTP clients support recursive change that is really useful in this case.
Once the permissions problem was fixed a new and, I must say, great-looking installation screen appeared. Unfortunately, with another issue - this time the Joomla 3.0 developers have decided that the obsolete PHP variable Magic Quotes GPC must be turned off and that's a required setting for the installation to proceed. Thankfully, there is a great tool in our cPanel that allows you to quickly disable it named PHP Variables Manager. Just add magic_quotes_gpc as variable, set it to Disabled and apply the changes to all sub-directories (there is a check-box for that).
After these initial glitches the manual installation finishes smoothly. I can't hide the fact that the new system and installation pages look much better than the previous oneс, but more on the looks to follow...
The Back End
Did I already say that the Bootstrap-powered new admin page looks fantastic? Well, it looks fantastic and what is even better it looks fantastic on all devices! The first noticeable thing is the new Quick Icons panel with links to the most commonly used tools. On the left of it there are blocks showing the most popular articles on your site, most recently added ones and information about the logged users. I must say that I like the new style a lot more than the old one with the huge square buttons!
The Article Manager has received a major overhaul too! Drag-and-drop arrangement of the articles, quick buttons to Publish, Unpublish, Trash and more actions that you can apply to your articles with just a click are just few of the great features of the new design. I am unable to understand why, however, they have included MooTools in the backend since the entire Bootstrap library is based on jQuery.
The WYSIWYG editor is the same, but the rest of the article editing screen is significantly improved. All the options you don't need to see all the time are hidden in tabs and the ones you really need when you add new articles are brought to the front and easily accessible. Just a personal opinion here, the three default lines of formatting buttons could be easily converted into one line to save some more space.
And most importantly, the entire admin area works great on mobile devices. The design is responsive and adjusts itself depending on the screen size you are viewing the page on. After certain width, the menus are reorganized in a completely different fashion, and not just compressed. This is one of the great advantages of using Bootstrap. I can now easily edit my sites on my iPhone without having to pinch in and out all the time just to do a simple task.
The Front End
Joomla 3.0 comes with a new default template named Protostar. I have played around with it a little by adding sample data and I find the template to be quite elegant and simple, producing a really nice output for a startup website. It does include, however, both MooTools and the Bootstrap libraries. Hopefully, we will soon see a jQuery-powered default template (maybe for Joomla 3.5 ).
The scary question: should you upgrade now?
- NO, if you are currently using Joomla 2.5
- YES, but to Joomla 2.5 if you are currently using 1.5.
With the release of Joomla 3.0, the official support of Joomla 1.5 will be discontinued. This means that you are strongly advised to move to the higher version, which is 2.5. However, upgrading a 2.5 Joomla to 3.0 is not recommended. It will be best to wait for the 3.5 version to be released before you start upgrading. For more information on release cycles please refer to the official Joomla blog.