Quick Release is a Mixed Blessing

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MonkeyT
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Quick Release is a Mixed Blessing

Post by MonkeyT » Tue Jul 12, 2011 5:58 pm

First, as a developer, congrats on the proceeding-as-planned 6-month release schedule. Always nice to hit a stated goal. I bet that feels great as a developer, but on the other hand, it's scary as hell for a user.

I am by no means a luddite: I am an experienced PHP dev and jumped on 1.6 with both feet - and I greatly appreciate the changes and improvements that have been made. My company, however, has had great difficulty moving this fast, largely because almost all of the Joomla extensions they were previously relying on were either slow to adapt or have not even succeeded in releasing a 1.6 compatible version yet.

To adjust, I have replaced about half of these laggards with code I have written, but I lost a lot of time having to learn how to work with the innards of Joomla from scratch with practically no 1.6 development documentation being in a completed state. (Yes, I know all about the wiki - I've lived there for months.)

Looking at the changes 1.7 has implemented, it appears that the inner engine remains very similar to 1.6 (which is a good thing and hopefully part of the plan for a while yet) and while a few usability and cosmetic changes have been introduced, the bulk of this update remains fixes, tweaks and minor improvements - making the 1.7 version number change scarier than the actual amount of adjustment we users would have to learn for this upgrade. The problem remains: by the time I have my co-workers on board with version 1.6, official support for 1.6 is scheduled to stop in less than a month. Maybe support stops for you, but if we don't or can't upgrade immediately, we'll be supporting it on installed sites for a long long time.

I would feel much more comfortable if the accelerated release could be accompanied by a much greater emphasis on completing developer documentation and enough discussion of the roadmap directly with users to be reassure us that this train won't outrun its own headlights.

Again, I'm impressed and grateful for what you've done, but I feel you would be well-served by more communication both of what's here and what's coming to the majority of your users, not just those of us who go digging in the forums for hints. Lord knows I'm going to have a few tense meetings trying to explain how in the future, changing versions shouldn't be as scary or bumpy as the transition from 1.5 to 1.6 was for us.

Thank you for your hard work. I hope this helps.

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mokelly
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Re: Quick Release is a Mixed Blessing

Post by mokelly » Fri Jul 22, 2011 11:36 am

I agree with your comments about the documentation, but I also understand. I am an extension developer and too often the documentation part is inadequate, especially for version upgrades. Documentation is not much fun and we have so many fun projects to work on!

I have managed to make 1.6 and 1.7 upgrades from 1.5 for about half of my extensions. So far, I have been loading my extension on the new version and debugging to find places that need to be upgraded. I followed the code of other 1.7 extensions to figure out how to make the necessary changes. I can read documentation till the end of time, but I have to see an example or play with the code to really understand.

The list of changes between 1.5 and 1.7 is so large, I find it more efficient to debug old extension versions on the new Joomla version than trying to dig out information from documentation. I am making a list of typical changes that my coding requires to get my extensions to work on 1.7 so the second half of my extension upgrades should go faster.

As far as future upgrades for end users, the "One-Click Extension Updates - Allows users to keep sites secure and controlled by simplifying the process of updating extensions." I have not made the leap to supporting this for my extensions, but I will. I appreciate your comments about the difficulties end users experience when upgrading. I will keep this in mind when implementing the "One Click" feature for my extensions. I hope this will help the end user upgrades be easier for future Joomla version releases.

At first I did not like the idea, but now I am excited about the Joomla scheduled releases. It gives me an opportunity to stay in touch with customers. It forces me to review each extension on regular basis. I have noticed that the number of downloads of my extensions surges with each new release. Downloads are what drive my business so the more the merrier! As soon as other extension developers figure this out, you can bet they will get off the laggard bus, at least the serious ones.

Since Joomla versions requirements for PHP and MySQL are well documented, users that download Joomla extensions will have a better idea which versions of extensions work with particular versions of PHP and MySQL. While supporting my extensions, I found that version incompatibilities are a major source of issues.

Best of all for me, it is a way of revealing which extensions are being updated regularly and who the current and future players are in the Joomla world. As a site developer also, I have found it difficult to choose between the 8,000 available extensions. This new Joomla scheme should help!

Thank you Joomla team!
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