This week's episode we're looking at some of the new features that we should be seeing in the latest version of Joomla, Joomla 3.2. The planned date for the roll out of this version was sometime in Fall or Spring in the southern hemisphere so we should see the release of the latest version very soon.
From what I've seen in the group chats and forums there is a lot of testing and debugging happening to get it ready and fully tested for release to the general public.
New features in the latest version will include:
- New usability features and accessibility features
- Joomla extension installer
- Content versioning for Joomla articles and content
- New security measures and increase user authentication
- multilingual from the installation process
- RAD or FoF for application development
- Template overrides
- Access control for modules
- Detailed debugging
- and much more...
This episode was mainly inspired from the work that so many of the Joomla contributors have been doing on the latest version of Joomla 3.2 and Brian Teeman's presentation from JoomlaDay Switzerland 2013 about Joomla 3.2.
If you haven't seen the social media round up from the event, you can do so by checking out the write up that has been created under the advice category of the Joomla Beat website.
There is also a fantastic write up that I referenced in this podcast episode as well written by Nick Antimisiaris and posted on the Joomla Community Blog titled, "The potential of Joomla 3.2".
New features of Joomla 3.2
New additions to the Joomla UX/UI
There are several additions to the Joomla user interface to make editing and browsing content within the CMS much easier. Little tiny additions such as how you can filter your content, editing your content as well as a few AJAX additions to the system.
A few new additions that I believe that stand out include:
- Front end editing links to menus and modules in the system - tracker
- Increased filter selectors allowing users to show up to 500 and 1000 entries - tracker
- Language options in the website are only shown if the language plugin is enabled and additional languages are added - tracker
New Joomla Apps / Web Installer
This is a great new features that I've mentioned on the podcast previously, and will allow a user or administrator on the website to browse and search for extensions in the admin console of Joomla and install extensions directly inside of Joomla. This method will be much faster compared to the older method of downloading an extension from a website, uploading in the Extension installer and then installing the extension. Since the transfers of the install files are being transferred from server to server you will not have to worry so much about slow website connections that will slow the process of installing extensions.
You can find many demo videos about the Joomla "apps" store online.
Content versioning for Joomla articles and content
Now this is something I've also mentioned in previous episodes of the Joomla Beat podcast but it will essentially give you the ability to compare your content with older versions and allow you to roll back to those older versions if you need to.
You can watch a video episode of the podcast that I did about it or refer back to a few older episodes of the podcast where I mention the content version control system for Joomla.
New security measures and increase user authentication
Now the new security features of Joomla are quite impressive.
I didn't know that these things were being implemented into Joomla until seeing the presentation from Brian Teeman and it is quite exciting to see what is being added.
The first thing is Bcrypt for all user passwords. Bcyrpt has been around for many years and is seen as being very slow but in more recent times is now starting to gain more in popularity. Previously the user passwords were all stored using MD5 hashes, now this is still secure but can be hacked using brute force methods. Bcrypt on the other hand is another algorithm that is very slow. This means that hackers can't use GPUs that are relatively cheap and fast to brute force hack passwords.
Besides the change to Bcrypt is also the optional addition of two form authentication, something similar you may see on banking websites where you have a username, password and a third randomly generated variable that you have to use your mobile device or third party application to generate to gain access to the website. This add an extra layer of human interaction to the website and the need of a physical password generator to gain access to the website. This can be very annoying at times needing one more password to get into your site but if the information is critical that you are storing such as customer data then this is rather important to secure and protect.
Multilingual from the installation process
Previously with Joomla, you'd have to install it with the default language, english, and then install your custom language pack that you need for the website.
Now directly from the installation process of Joomla you can not only install all of the language packs that you need for your website, you can also setup your website to work with multilanguages from the installation process.
RAD or FoF for application development
RAD is the adoption of the FoF framework that was developed by the AkeebaBackup team to help build extensions and applications on top of Joomla quickly and easily.
This is a big move forward for Joomla to help make Joomla development quicker and easier for a lot of developers out there.
The details of the Joomla RAD summary can be found in the documentation that was used to develop the system into Joomla.
Improved Template Editor
The additions to the template editor as a project from the Google Summer of Code have actually made the template manager useful! Before the features in the template manager were minimal at best and only allowed you to perform a few minor and simple edits to the Joomla templates.
Now with the new additions you can edit, browse the structure and files of your template as well as do some other fancy things such as create module and component overrides directly from the template manager. Previously you would have to actually have access to the file management system of the server with FTP, SSH or cPanel, now you can do all of the modifications and functions directly from the Joomla admin itself.
Allows you to compile your LESS files from the template manager, create new files/upload files and folders in the template manager as well. this can be useful when creating custom CSS files in the template.
Access control for modules
Now access control for Joomla was added back in Joomla 1.6 but has now been implemented for the modules in Joomla as well. This means now different access levels can administer the modules in the backend of Joomla. You can lock down various important modules such as the site search to only be editable by certain access groups.
This gives great control over the module system for administrators allowing lower end administrators to edit modules such as custom HTML modules around the website. Couple this with the new front end highlighting and editing of modules and menus allows for some simple and powerful editing.
Detailed debugging and especially the details of the MySQL queries that are being performed make it just that little bit easier to figure out exactly what is going on in your Joomla site. If you've stuffed up a query in your module or extension, you'll be more easily be able to work out what the issues were.
Special thanks to Renato Bastos for joining me quickly on the podcast to give his input to his fav part of what might make it into Joomla 3.2, the 'apps' feature for Joomla.
Some Other Features That You May Have Missed
Did you see this? OpenSearch options have been added to Joomla to allow for the aggregation of the content in a website to a search aggregator. This was added back in Joomla 1.7
This feature was released back in version 3.1.5
Saved Search Menu Items
You can now make a menu item from a saved search result. Funky since Joomla 3.1.5
WAI-ARIA and HTML 5 additions to progress bar
This is a nice one for accessibility and lets screen readers know that the is a progress happening on the website and the user will have to wait for the process to complete before continuing. Added WAI-ARIA support for progress bars.
Download the Alpha of Joomla 3.2
Read more about the potential of Joomla 3.2