Joomla 3.0 was released on September 27th and it marks the first of the STS (standard term support) releases that will culminate with Joomla 3.5 LTS (long term support) release in September of 2013. Joomla 3.0, and the next STS version Joomla 3.1, are intended for early adopters and as such they are not recommended for the vast majority of people for developing their production sites.
There was a great article written by Steve Burge on the Joomla Community Portal that goes into the detail regarding the release cycle and the various versions. As the article describes, for most people the standard upgrade path will be Sticking with Joomla 2.5 until Joomla 3.5 is released. At that point you will be able to upgrade to Joomla 3.5 from directly within Joomla itself via the built-in Joomla updater.
What's new in Joomla 3?
Joomla 3 is a major new version of Joomla and as such there are some significant changes. From a users persepctive the first thing you will notice is the all new administration UI that is powered by Twitter's Bootstrap. This HTML and CSS scaffolding allows for consistent styling and more rapid development of HTML interfaces. This is a great bonus for Joomla as it has long suffered from a UI that has not evolved much since the early days of the project. A quick hilight of some of the key features in Joomla 3 include:
- Twitter Bootstrap CSS/LESS files in a JUI package
- New responsive administration template - Isis
- New responsive bootstrap powered front end template - Protostar
- Simplified installation process
- ProstreSQL Database Drivers Support
- New administrator statistic modules
- Improvements to searching
- More code standardization
- Updated to use version 12.2 of Joomla Platform
Of course there are many other new features, changes, and additions, making Joomla 3.0 a very significant release with real usability and functional improvements.
What Joomla 3 means for RocketTheme
We've been monitoring the development of Joomla 3 since the first alpha releases and have been hard at work analyzing and developing our extensions for compatibility. Joomla maintained much of its UI consistency for backwards compatibility, so with the improvements that Bootstrap brings in Joomla 3.0, it also means that there is work that is needed to be done to existing extensions and templates to ensure that things work correctly in the new system. Also there have been quite a few, and some very significant, changes and depreciation in the API of the Joomla Platform that underpins Joomla 3.0 itself. These changes have meant that almost every extension we develop has had to be updated. Currently we have about 90% of our extensions already converted to be Joomla 3 compatible with the exceptions being our two main components RokSprocket and RokGallery which are taking a bit longer due to their greater complexity. However we are well on the way to getting these polished and finished in the next few weeks.
Joomla 3 and the Gantry Framework
One major part of the RocketTheme equation is the framework that powers our templates, Gantry. We recently released a new version 4.0 of the Gantry Framework for Joomla, and this has been a great success. We introduced a number of new features including the inclusion of much of the Bootstrap framework into our base template. With the final release of Joomla 3.0 we have to make some additions and changes to Gantry to ensure it will provide all the required Bootstrap functionality that the base Joomla "Protostar" template does. Again we've been working on this and will shortly release an update to Gantry that is both Joomla 2.5 and Joomla 3.0 compatible.
Our forthcoming template release, will initially be released for Joomla 2.5 only, with a Joomla 3.0 compatible update released in the following couple of weeks. We are going to try to release extensions and templates in a single package that is compatible with both platform versions. This should ease maintenance and upgrades but it also means that we want to ensure we have all the issues sorted out with this technique before we make them available to the general public. Expect to see more and more news related to our products and Joomla 3.0 compatibility over the next month.