2011 looks to be an exciting year for the Joomla! community. Joomla! 1.6 has been released to the world, teams are already collaborating and forming ideas for the next versions of Joomla, due within six months of each other, and the community is bringing exciting "flavors" of Joomla! to us in the form of distributions such as Nooku Server and Molajo. 2011 also looks to be exciting for me as a developer with the projects I am working on.
Joomla! 1.6 and Beyond
As of about 7 hours ago, Joomla! 1.6 has been released in a stable package and ready for developers to take the next step forward with the Joomla! project. Joomla! 1.6 is a great step forward for the project, despite some of the issues that have arisen over the last several months. Some great new features are included in the core, along with a more powerful API allowing us to do even more with the Joomla! framework. Two great new features include the refined ACL and the flexibility to define your own user groups and access levels. I expect that these features being included in the core code will solve a lot of problems for those with the need for full control over the registered user base, and that these features will be fine tuned and improved upon as we move forward to Joomla! 1.7.
Speaking of Joomla! 1.7, it's not too soon to start planning. Following the new six-month release cycle, expect to see it ready for the public in July. Just because 1.6 has just been released, however, doesn't mean that some planning hasn't already gone into 1.7. 1.7's goal is to Rediscover Content, focusing on a refined search process and content tagging. From the community, several ideas have already been thrown around in the form of the Joomla! Ideas Pool and the J!UX and Joomla! 1.7 groups on J!People. And the community is rich with ideas, ranging from refining the administrator interface (and with templates like Minima and AdminPraise, who needs Bluestork?) to including a core backup option. Which of these ideas will make it into 1.7? Well, the community has a say by coding these solutions, so what are you waiting for?
Joomla! 1.5 Distribution - Nooku Server
In one of what I think are the biggest announcements since Joomla! 1.5's release, Nooku recently announced that they would be creating a multi-site distribution of 1.5, Nooku Server, and refactoring some of the code to use the Nooku Framework versus the Joomla! framework. While I personally haven't looked much into Nooku, I have heard nothing but great things about the framework and I know that their code is in great hands when I see the names of some of the developers involved in the project. A distribution of Joomla! with the Nooku Framework seems to be an excellent and logical step forward for this team and only opens the door to even greater possibilities!
Molajo, A Joomla! 1.6 Distribution
Quite a stir was raised when it was announced that a Joomla! 1.6 distribution was in the works. Molajo brings to Joomla! 1.6 an amazing slew of features and extensions typically sold for profit. Just to highlight the tip of the iceberg, planned for inclusion in the Molajo distribution is the Pro version of Matt Thomas' Construct Framework, Marco Barbosa's Minima administrator template, a special edition of Admin Tools, and a commenting solution coded by Amy Stephen. If you aren't already, follow ATAAWDevs on Twitter to follow all the code being written by this awesome team.
2011 - My Plans
I started 2011 on a fresh foot, starting development on an adaption of a popular Joomla! extension, which I will share more details about when the time is right. I will say this about it right now, though. Of the work completed on refactoring it for Joomla! 1.6, the admin side of the component is much lighter in code and is so far making full use of the core Joomla! framework without any hacks to any of the functions, to include ACL integration. Plus, the enhanced framework API makes much of this possible (right now, between two controllers, there are no overridden functions!).
Concerning my already released Twitter modules, work on those will continue and new features and releases will continue to come. This week, I plan to release what I plan to be the final version of Tweet Display Back compatible with Joomla! 1.5 (subject to any major bugs or security flaws) and prepare it for Joomla! 1.6+ compatibility with the 1.2 series of releases. So far, my to-do list includes better error reporting, better template rendering, new templates taking advantage of some nifty HTML & CSS tricks (and for newer browsers, CSS3), and PHP Strict code. Some of this may make it to the 1.5 compatible version, but definitely not all of it. Of course, since Tweet List Viewer is based so closely off the Tweet Display Back code, the same changes will be made there soon after.
I will continue to give time to the Joomla! project too. With Joomla! 1.7 due in July, that means development will go quick, and we'll need more bug testers than before to support multiple versions and to take some requirements off of those who have devoted a lot of time to the project.
So, when are you upgrading to Joomla! 1.6?
To be honest, I've been planning my upgrade path since Beta 12. There is a lot to consider with an upgrade; templates, extensions, and the availability of a migration tool just barely touch on all the arguments. I've been looking at the extensions I am using, determining whether I'll keep them with 1.6+, and if I am (or something like them), what the availability of a 1.6 compatible extension is. My move to the 1.5 Construct Framework in December was a small step in that migration path, as there is a 1.6 version already available. And looking at the extensions I use, of the few that I do use, many are already compatible. Akeeba's products have been 1.6 compatible since Beta 1 and my own extensions have been 1.6 ready since release. I'm not going to spill all my tools out here, but know that I am actively watching the community and waiting for the right products to be available before I migrate. As one of the PLT leaders has said, why be in a rush to upgrade?