If you've been following the developments lists (or even if you haven't), you've noticed a flurry of activity around Joomla 1.6 in recent months. While we haven't been very good about keeping our milestones, there are a few very good reasons for that.

The first and biggest reason is we've been trying to shoot at a moving target. The scope for Joomla 1.6 was pretty basic—adding ACL and nested categories. Had we stopped there, we could have theoretically had Joomla 1.6 out by now. But while working on it, we and others in the community have been constantly saying to ourselves "wouldn't it be really friggin' cool if Joomla had...?" This kind of scope creep happens all the time in the real world, and there's a propensity to go overboard when our hands aren't forced on a specific deadline. There's always that "one last thing" we can squeeze in.

Secondly, it's the fallacy that "this will only take a few minutes to implement." Many developers (and not just developers) often fall victim to the notion that a task will be short, only to discover that it's more complex under the surface than initially thought. Minutes quickly turn into days or even weeks. It's human nature.

Third of all, there's a feeling that if something doesn't go in now, it won't go into the Joomla core for years to come. We have a pretty progressive roadmap for the next versions of Joomla and we'll try to keep a regular pace of development. Since Joomla progress is primarily determined by its contributors, the pace will be commensurate with such. So while this isn't true, some have the feeling it is.

In the past, we've had some false starts and sometimes been unclear about direction or needs, but we hope to be better at it. The Joomla Project has taken a lot of criticism during it's relatively short existence, which, deserved or not, comes with the territory. But, all in all, we're all working towards a common goal of making the next version of Joomla as powerful, extensible, and compatible as it can be.

If you work with Joomla, you know full well that the community is pretty vocal about the things they like and don't like. Joomla events are prime occasions where we receive feedback on what's working for people and what isn't. There may not always be an answer to every issue, but we do listen.

Essentially, the process of working on Joomla 1.6 is where all of this activity comes together—all those emails, forum discussions, Joomla Days, and other random "ingredients" of information go into a giant bubbling cauldron and soon becomes (hopefully) the tastiest soup you've ever eaten. Decisions are made based on what ingredients we can combine and recommending against others that won't taste good (or even spoil the stew). All is done with a keen eye on the quality of the end-product—it has to look good and taste good.

At this time, the bubbling cauldron of Joomla 1.6 is getting near time for us all to get our first good taste. We've added the ACL, nested categories work, a new Article Manager is written, new core libraries like JForm have been added, and we're working on fresh new templates for both the front-end and the back-end. We're also working on a way to make upgrading from Joomla 1.5 as painless as possible. So, in order to get a round of solid feedback from the community, we're looking to release a second Alpha very soon and follow up with a quick Beta after that.

So please be patient.