Joomla CMS Version 3.0 is planned for release in September. In case you missed it, we decided to move the CMS releases to September and March (instead of January and July), hence the September release date. Version 3.1 will follow in March 2013, with version 3.5 in September 2013.
Version 3.0 is our first major release under the time-based release cycle adopted in January 2011. As such it represents an exciting challenge for the community and the leadership -- can we roll out a major release on a predictable time schedule?
Also, there is a very important point to keep in mind: version 3.0 is not for everyone. Joomla 2.5 is the long-term-support (LTS) release, and most production sites now running 2.5 will likely want to stay on 2.5 until version 3.5 is available in September 2013. Version 3.0 is part of the standard support (STS) cycle (along with 3.1) and is for people who need the new features or who just like to be on the leading edge. All users of 3.0 will be expected to update to 3.1 and 3.5 when they are released.
What new features will be in version 3.0?
Of course the answer depends on which new features are ready in time for the release. So we won’t know for sure until we are much closer to the release date. For this reason, nothing discussed here is guaranteed. Don’t get mad at the author if things don’t turn out as expected!
With all of this in mind, here is a short discussion of what we think and hope will be in 3.0. This is based on work that is underway and work that is planned.
New Markup and UI Based on Bootstrap
Using Bootstrap means that the HTML markup for the core extensions will change. This means that templates written for version 2.5 will probably require some modifications to work with 3.0. We hope these are relatively simple and we plan to have this well documented. We also hope to backport the Bootstrap changes to version 2.5. If this is accomplished, then templates could be written to work both for later 2.5 versions and for version 3.0.
Platform Version 12.2
At this time, the plan is to use version 12.2 of the Platform for version 3.0. This platform version is expected to include classes to support a new unified content model (UCM) and will also include an improved model-view-controller (MVC) structure. These new classes will NOT be used in the core components for version 3.0. However, they will be available for extension developers to start using. It is expected that core components will be changed to use the new platform classes for CMS version 4.0.
As part of this, a number of classes that are currently in the platform (libraries/joomla folder) will be moved to the CMS (libraries/cms folder). This should be transparent to extensions that use the API to load these classes.
If recent history is any guide, there will likely be some other changes that “sneak” into version 3.0. Some possible areas that might be enhanced include Smart Search, multi-site, SQL performance, and support for PostgreSQL. As with the earlier changes, none of this is guaranteed. Only features that are ready to go by the cut-off date will be included.
Update Process and Backward Compatibility
The goal for version 3.0 is to be as backward compatible as possible. It is expected that most version 2.5 extensions, other than templates, will work with little or no modification in version 3.0. Because of the HTML markup changes from the move to Bootstrap, templates will likely require some modifications. This will become clearer as we get closer to release.
The update process from 2.5 to 3.0 should be automatic and simple, similar to prior updates. Users can choose on a site-by-site basis whether to have the automatic updates look for LTS release updates (the default) or STS release updates. Depending on that choice, different update notifications will show when you log into the administrative back end of the site.
Version 3.0 will require PHP version 5.3 and MySQL version 5.1 (with MySQL 5.5 recommended). We will continue to support Microsoft SQL Server and hopefully will be adding PostgreSQL support. Also, it has been proposed to drop support for the old mysql driver in PHP and require the use of the newer mysqli driver. Finally, it is proposed to require the INNODB engine inside MySQL. INNODB is required for some of the new platform tables. None of these changes should cause problems for hosts that offer up-to-date software versions. Also, it will be at least September 2013 before existing sites will need to update to version 3.
Because the Joomla CMS is on a time-based release cycle, we have to be strict about cut-off dates. Here are the proposed dates:
July 1: Version 3.0 alpha package. This is primarily for testing third-party extensions after the move of the platform files to the CMS folder. Features do not have to be ready by then, but they can be included if they are ready.
August 1: Version 3.0 beta package. This should contain all of the features that will be in version 3.0. For this to happen, all 3.0 features need to be ready to merge prior to this date.
September 1: Version 3.0 RC1. This should be very close to a final release.
September 15: Version 3.0.0.
What Can You Do?
We need community involvement to make version 3.0 a success. There are many ways you can get involved. Here are a few.
- Join a Production Working Group. This is the focus for working on larger features. Here is the link: https://docs.joomla.org/Production_Working_Groups.
- Help test new features and bug fixes. The best way to get involved with this is to join the Bug Squad and/or follow the feature tracker. The Feature tracker link is http://joomlacode.org/gf/project/joomla/tracker/?action=TrackerItemBrowse&tracker_id=8549. The Bug Squad link is https://docs.joomla.org/Bug_Squad.
- Help with documentation. Here is the link: https://docs.joomla.org/Production_Working_Groups#Documentation_Working_Group.
These are exciting times for the project. Please help us make version 3.0 the best Joomla yet.