Getting extensions ready for Joomla 4 - Andrei Cristea (RSJoomla)
More and more extension developers have been very busy getting their extensions ready for Joomla 4. So when this next major Joomla version comes out, you may very well have a smooth migration because of this. In the past few months, we interviewed a great number of developers about this subject. This month we talked to Andrei Cristea at RSJoomla, who has good news for us: their extensions will be compatible with Joomla 3.x as well as Joomla 4.
Thanks for joining us in this series, Andrei! Could you tell us a little about your extensions?
RSJoomla has been on the Joomla market for more than 10 years now. We provide a robust portfolio of components and templates that can help users build the ideal website for their business or service.
Our most popular components include a form builder, RSForm!Pro, a security component, RSFirewall, an event manager, RSEvents!Pro, a helpdesk/support solution, RSTickets!Pro and also a SEO tool, RSSeo!. For templates, we are mainly focusing on multi-purpose templates, but we have also released two templates that were specifically designed for, but not limited to one of our products: RSLibro! for RSDirectory! and RSRadda! for RSMembership!.
Another service we take great pride in is our support; purchasing a component or template does not always mean that your project will be easy. We understand this and we provide the best quality of support and treat each request from our users with full seriousness and attention.
What will happen with your extensions when J4 is released? Will they be compatible or will the developers have to provide complete new versions?
We're actually in the process of updating our extensions for Joomla 4.0 and it's going relatively well - the best part of this is that we'll be able to keep a single version that will be compatible with both versions (3 and 4), which was not possible back when there were two versions of Joomla - I'm talking about 1.0 & 1.5 and afterwards 1.5 & 2.5. There are some changes that are bigger than others, but nothing that's requiring rebuilding everything back from the ground up. Thankfully the Joomla framework has grown a lot since the 1.5 days and if you stick with it, it's always easier down the road when major versions are released.
What should users do with their extensions upon migrating to Joomla 4? What should they expect from their extension providers in general? And what can they expect from you?
I don't think this is going to be a surprise to anyone: upgrading to Joomla 4 will break some stuff. It's inevitable, but a good rule of thumb when applying major updates is to always do it on a staging website and of course keep regular backups.
We try to keep the upgrade experience as streamlined as possible. With automatic updates available for quite some time, users can update all of their outdated extensions with one click and that's a real time-saver, considering RSForm! Pro has about 46 additional plugins that you can install.
Template developers will suffer the biggest hit - Joomla 4 ships with Bootstrap 5 and the whole frontend will have to be rethought. We do have a few templates ourselves and we're still debating whether to upgrade them to Bootstrap 5 (this means we'll have to redo them, they're using Bootstrap 2 right now) or keep them as is and focus on new templates being built for Joomla 4.
As a developer, would you say it is important to start preparing extensions as soon as possible?
Well, yes and no. I'll have to be honest and say that we've tried starting the update process on our extensions when the first alpha version of Joomla 4 came out - that didn't go too well. Unfortunately, at that time there were still lots of bugs and breaking changes. We've learned that it's better to wait some time before a Release Candidate version is preparing to be released; chances are you'll encounter only minor issues. Of course, following the Joomla framework will always make it easier for you to update your code.
What impact do the different types of Joomla versions (alpha, beta, RC) have on the update of extensions?
This depends on the changes introduced with each new version, the most recent one being the change from Bootstrap 4 to Bootstrap 5. This required a new take on our update process, but so far we have managed to work the kinks out without any major delays.
How do you expect the launch of J4 to impact your business?
We hope that this new Joomla version will increase the interest and trust users have for this specific platform, thus increasing the exposure of our solutions as well. Although the transition period will probably be a bit intense from the support point of view, once users get accustomed to the new version and experience the improvements, this should only have a positive impact overall.
Is there anything else you would like to advise our readers, regarding extensions and Joomla 4?
We always recommend using the latest stable versions of Joomla and components in your installations, this ensures that you will benefit from the latest features available and multiple bug fixes included in the latest releases.
Also do not hesitate to contact the developers when you encounter an issue. Due to their experience with the products and other users requests, the overall debugging process will run faster and smoother.