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Joomla! 3.2 New Features: Extension Finder

Written by | Saturday, 01 February 2014 00:00 | Published in 2014 February
The most important feature that was released with version 3.2 of Joomla, in my opinion, is without a doubt the "Joomla Extension Finder aka Install from Web" which allows you to install extensions listed in the JED (Joomla Extensions Directory) in a simple and rapid way directly from the control panel.

One of the Joomla! overall project goals for 2013, was the realization of the "Joomla app store", allowing users to search and install extensions directly from the control panel. With the official release of version 3.2 in the past months, we can certainly consider it a goal achieved. 

What It's For

Before the release of this new feature, to install an extension one usually first needed to search on the JED, maybe read the comments etc, then probably it was necessary to go to the developer's site, download, and finally install it by going to the control panel of your website. Now everything is available directly from the control panel to search for extensions, read the comments and install it, without leaving your control panel. A nice time saver, don't you think?

How to Use It

To enable the new installation feature is very easy, simply go into the Joomla Extension Manager and click on the notice at the top to install the extra plugin. The usage is very intuitive - "user friendly" was one of the key requirements for the team that developed the project. It is pretty much like you usually do browsing the extensions on JED, by category, for text, select it, read the information and if you choose it you can install it directly with a single click. To be more precise, it is not always possible to install extensions with a click. That depends if it is compatible with "Install from Web" or not. We can identify four types of extensions :

  • not compatible
  • free compatible
  • free compatible, registration needed
  • commercial compatible

For extensions not yet compatible with the new mode, it is like browsing the JED. You will see a download button, or registration process if commercial. In short, the classic installation process. For free extensions you will see the "Install" button, allowing you to download and install the extension, and for commercial extensions and those that require registration, you will need some extra clicks because you will be routed to the developer's website in order to complete the purchase process and or registration / login, after which the download and installation process will begin.

How It Works

In a nutshell we can say that it is a classic example of a client/server architecture with the use of ajax technology. The server side that takes care of retrieving data from the JED, and a client side that uses them. An important requirement that the project team has achieved, was to have the least possible impact on the Joomla ecosystem. Joomla as CMS code was changed relatively very little, and to the end user the impact is reduced to managing a new plugin which enables or disables the new feature - everything else is transparent. The bulk of the work is done by the new infrastructure App Server that was created "ad hoc", and which gets data directly from the JED.

What It Changes for Developers

Without updating your JED entry, your extensions are only listed by the Extension Finder, and the download process flows in the classic way. Enabling your free extensions listed on the JED to work with "Extension Finder" is very simple. Just update your JED entry with some information. For extensions that require registration or purchase, some setup is needed on the developer's website side. For more detail see:

I was lucky enough to follow the "App store team" so I've seen from its birth the evolution of this project, and I should note that I have been very impressed with the production capabilities, professionalism and courtesy shown by a team of volunteers who have developed and made ​​freely available to the Joomla community in a very short time this time saver feature. The team's work continues currently. For example, I've just tested the porting of Install from Web on Joomla! 2.5.

You can contribute bug fixes and new features to the following repositories:

 

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