A couple of weeks back, on 12 July 2012, Joomla announced the release of Joomla 3.0 Alpha-1. When new versions of popular software are announced, all us developer nerds usually respond with enthusiam and eagerness as we clamber to experiment with all the new features and functionality we have been anxiously waiting for. But, that doesn't seem to be the case with this release.
When Joomla 2.5 stable was released in January 2012 it included features that the community had been screaming for. Fully customisable access controls levels, unlimited nested categories, one click updates and much more. These were features that us developers wanted and needed as much as our clients did. Or perhaps we wanted them because our clients did.
Joomla 3.0 is also introducing some nice new functionality, like Bootstrap (and JQuery?). It's a transitional release leading to Joomla 3.5 which will be a stable release around June/July 2013. Joomla 2.5 will reach it's end of life around October 2013.
EDIT - 18 April 2013: The release date for Joomla 3 has been amended to spring (northern hemisphere) 2014. Subsequently, we can expect the life span of Joomla 2.5 to be extended to around August/September 2014. Kind of makes the rest of my rant below less relevant :) See "What is the status of Joomla 2.5?" about half way down this page. John
So why aren't we all excited?
Joomla's development strategy is to release a new major version every 18 months with incremental updates in between and regular security patches and bug fixes. When a new major version is released support for the previous version is dropped after only 3 months.
It's too soon
For the past 6 months we've been selling our clients on the need to update their perfectly functional J!1.5 websites because there is no longer any updates or support available for their platform. It'll be another 6 months before many of them commit the funds and proceed with the upgrade. This gives them only 6 months of life out of their newly updated website before we contact them again and say to them "Your new website is out of date and you need to upgrade again!"
As service providers, it looks really bad for us.
I can understand why the Joomla working groups like to follow a regular development schedule and release new versions with new features using the latest technology. It's good to be up to date and cutting edge. But, who wants to be forced into upgrading their system for no other reason than to be up to date? Bug fixes? Yes. Security updates? Definitely. Upgrade to a new version, template redevelopment and migrate extensions just because? No thanks.
Some won't upgrade at all because they can't see the need to fix what isn't broken. I can completely understand this.
Some of these site upgrades are big jobs with many 3rd party extensions that need to be migrated or replaced with alternative extensions and data migrated. There are still some popular Joomla 1.5 extensions that haven't been upgraded to Joomla 2.5 - AllVideos Reloaded for example. This creates additional work which turns most of these updates into redevelopment projects.
I've been with Joomla since the beginning - way back when it forked from Mambo. But, this 18 month life cycle is creating massive problems in my business and I'm now seriously considering dropping Joomla completely for an alternative CMS. It's a shame because my whole business has been built around Joomla. But, I feel bad about forcing major updates on clients just to keep up with an imposed schedule.