You may have seen me on quite a few occasions advising against using Joomla! 1.6. You have most certainly seen that I was the first developer to embrace Joomla! 1.6 and my extensions were among the first to fully support Joomla! 1.6. Actually, Akeeba Backup was the first major extension and the first third-party extension ever to run natively on Joomla! 1.6. So what is that? Am I hypocrite? Am I suffering from schizophrenia? Or is it something more unalarming?
First things first. Let's see why I am advising against using Joomla! 1.6. I can sum up my individual, refined arguments in two broader arguments.
The first argument is that Joomla! 1.6 is not a leap forward, it's a step forward; a short-term one nonetheless. When we had a choice between sticking to Joomla! 1.0 and migrating to Joomla! 1.5, we were actually confronted with a lack of choice. Joomla! 1.0 was scheduled for an untimely death. It was also extremely limiting to what you could do as a site builder. It was like choosing between a beaten up 2CV and a shiny new McLarren F1. We all jumped ship to 1.5 straight away. Just like in the car analogy we had to spend some time getting used to the new system and we all had are minor to major crashes. In the end, Joomla! 1.5 was a real CMS and 1.0 was... a mere toy.
Now we are faced with the dilemma of sticking with 1.5 or migrating to 1.6. Now, this is real puzzle. Joomla! 1.5 is tested and rock solid, Joomla! 1.6 is not just yet. Joomla! 1.5 is a long term release, supported at least until April 2012, Joomla! 1.6 is a short term release and will be dropped in June 2011. Joomla! 1.5 has thousands of available extensions and countless templates, Joomla! 1.6 has a more stark choice of either. The only reason to pick 1.6 is ACL, but it's counter-intuitive and there are already some kick-ass Joomla! 1.5 extensions (like JUGA, NoixACL etc) which perform this task much better. OK, maybe multi-lingual support is another reason, but Joom!Fish does an insanely better job in a more webmaster-friendly way too. Overall, Joomla! 1.5 makes more business sense to stick to right now, at least until the next Joomla! long-term support (LTS) release is released on January 2012.
The other argument is stability. If you had tested the betas and RC you might have witnessed a myriad issues, like bricking your site (locked out or no user having access to content), FUBAR'ed menus, crapped up URLs and many, many more. In fact, some of these bugs were either fixed a couple of days before 1.6.0 was out (fixed? nobody can really tell, because little to no testing went in). There were some security concerns which were "fixed" with what I consider to be ugly hacks, like the ability of putting core directories off the web server root. Why that is bad can be the topic of my next blog post, so just hold on to my word for that. Overall, Joomla! 1.6 is not remotely as solid as Joomla! 1.5 at the time of this writing.
Now, you may ask, why am I supporting Joomla! 1.6 in all of my extensions? Am I a masochist? Do I enjoy spending countless, mostly unpaid, hours in front of my Mac churning up code to work around the never-ending stream of API changes between each Joomla! 1.6 release?
No, I am not a masochist. I tried to look at the bigger picture. Since Joomla! 1.6 is more prone to breakage – either due to bugs or due to the increased possibility of user error – users need a reliable "airbag" to save them from a tragic site crash. That "airbag" is called backup and I happen to develop one of the major backup component for Joomla!. The only social responsible course of action for me was to provide a solid, fully functional backup component for Joomla!. I also consider Joomla! 1.6.0 to be a little bit more insecure than its predecessor. Remember, it's not as much tried in vivo (on live sites) so this is a logical consequence. I also happen to develop a security component for Joomla!. Again, the only social responsible course of action was, naturally, to port it to Joomla! 1.6.
Social responsibility springs from the core value of the GNU General Public License: the Freedom of Choice
To cut this long story short, I support Joomla! 1.6 because it's socially responsible due to the nature of the software I build. Social responsibility springs from the core ideal of the GNU General Public License: the Freedom of Choice. I want you, the Joomla! community, to have a free choice between Joomla! 1.5 and 1.6, despite what my personal views on the subject are. I have embraced the GPL with all my might almost eleven years ago. It drives my actions – often contrary to any business sense – and fuels my coding passion.
I hope that clears it up once and for all and nobody asks me again why I am not using Joomla! 1.6 even though all my software supports it ;)