Great news, everyone! The second alpha version of Joomla 1.6 has been released by the project team. And this time, the ACL is in place.
Read on for more about the new features and additions, and what's in store for the beta release.
First, I want to remind you that any alpha or beta release is only meant for evaluation and testing purposes. They should never be used on a live website.
Joomla 1.6 Alpha 1 has been around for some time
The first alpha version of Joomla 1.6 was released in June 2009 and presented a number of improvements over Joomla 1.5. Most significantly, but maybe not as noticeable, was the rewriting of code which had taken place. The rewriting of the Joomla core code resulted in the code size being reduced to the half of that of Joomla 1.5. Simultaneously, the coding team has been able to add to the functionality. Quite an achievement.
Other improvements in the last alpha version included the addition of Mootools 1.2 and JForm support. The back-end was completely refactored. Additionally, we saw the inclusion of nested categories. No more sections. Categories only for Joomla 1.6! Following this comes improved category parameters, and new front-end views; Categories and Category.
PHP 5.2+ required
Joomla 1.6 requires PHP 5.2 or higher to work on your server. Removing support for PHP 4.x vastly improves the performance of Joomla. Even if some of the performance is eaten by new features, Joomla 1.6 will be faster than Joomla 1.5.
Joomla 1.6 Alpha 2 - what's new?
Here's an overview of the new features in Joomla 1.6 Alpha 2:
ACL - Access Control List
This is simply put the most sought-after feature of Joomla 1.6. ACL gives you the power to control who sees what, who can edit what, who can administer what. I know this will be the most important reason for me to upgrade, as almost every site I create has a need for controlling access to most parts of the site, whilst giving access to other parts of the site to editors and clients.
Extendable User Profile
Up until now, the user profile of Joomla users has been very limited, and restricted to the pre-configured fields. With Joomla 1.6 Alpha 2, you can add your own fields to the user table. This is useful if you need to create user profiles which show additional information about the user. This may be membership information, age, gender, description fields etc.
Table-less com_content layouts
Even though the Beez template has had template overrides to give you table-less layouts, the Joomla core still creates tables when presenting the content area. This has now changed, and you won't need to use overrides to get table-less layouts anymore. The table-less layouts are faster loading and better from an SEO viewpoint.
Improved com_content Modules
Article Linker Plug-in for Editors
In previous versions of Joomla, linking to articles has been tedious. Now, Joomla 1.6 includes a WYSIWYG editor plug-in which enables you to easily link to articles inside Joomla. JCE has had this capability for a long time, but it's nice to see that it has made it's way into the core.
New front-end Template (atomic)
The new template called atomic is not usable as of now. It's just an example of how basic template elements look.
New back-end Template (bluestork)
The administrator template has been redesigned with a blue, more elegant look. The icons are also improved and look much better than the old set. Even though it's not an important improvement in itself, it gives you the feeling that this is a new and improved product.
I think the new admin interface looks cleaner and it's easier to spot the different functions. The icons have been improved and this makes for a better user experience.
New Uploader for the Media Manager
The new uploader for pictures and media files in the Media Manager has been improved. The uploads are now handled without refreshing the window, and it works very smoothly.
I want to mention a nice and useful improvement in the installer as well. You can now choose a custom administrator user name during installation of Joomla. This is an important factor in securing your Joomla installation.
Improved and polished Edit Article Interface
The edit article screen is one of many screens which are cleaner and faster loading. A nice feature is the "Save as new" function. You can also access the ACL settings from one of the panels, as well as edit them.
(Click the image on the right to see a larger screenshot)
Joomla 1.6 beta 1 is the next release
For the first beta version of Joomla 1.6, you can expect some additional features:
- Commenting solution
As far as I've understood, jExtended (Andrew Eddie and more) has donated their commenting solution to the Joomla project. This means you won't need a third-party extension to add comments functionality to your site. There will be a setting in the article editor to turn comments on or off for individual articles. Even if I prefer using Disqus for comments in Joomla, I think this is a valuable addition to the core, as comments are getting more and more common. I hope there will be integration with the Joomla user table and preferably also with social bookmarking sites and services. Moderation should be easy as well. Look forward to seeing what they come up with.
- Additional database drivers
- Smaller improvements
There will be a lot of smaller improvements in beta 1. To the performance, to the user interface, to the Joomla core code itself.
Download Joomla 1.6 alpha 2
This is a happy day for Joomla users, a happy day for all of us who make a living out of Joomla, and a happy day for every supporter of open source projects. It surely demonstrates the power of a community coming together and what it can achieve.
A heartfelt thank you to all those who participate in making Joomla 1.6 a reality. Let's all help test this version and report back to the project whatever we find which can make the final version even better.