Getting templates ready for Joomla 4: Kawshar Ahmed (JoomShaper)
On the way to the stable version of Joomla 4, we also wanted to know how the template developers are working to adapt their products to the next major version of our CMS.
An essential part of the Joomla ecosystem, templates allows us to define the identity of our website, also enabling further customization to meet our specific needs. They will be a significant factor in the migration to Joomla 4.
On this occasion, we talked to one of the leading developers of templates, Kawshar Ahmed from JoomShaper.
First of all, we want to thank him for taking the time to answer our questions.
Hello! I am Kawshar Ahmed, founder and CEO of JoomShaper. We have been designing, developing, and supporting Joomla templates and extensions for more than a decade. It’s a pleasure to be around this community since the early start by supporting Joomla events locally and internationally. Our journey with Joomla has always been fascinating because of the CMS itself, users, and community. I hope Joomla 4 is a big step into the future if we can make it for the users.
What will happen to templates when Joomla 4 is released? Will they be compatible or will the developers have to provide completely new versions?
Well, Joomla templates will have to be updated to work with Joomla 4. It’s an entirely different structure which should be addressed wisely. Developers have a lot of work to do in this case. Most importantly, they will have to make templates compatible with Joomla 4. We have 100+ templates and 50+ extensions; we have to work simultaneously, as some of these templates are dependent on some of our extensions. Right now we are working on the Helix Ultimate 2.0 and it will be compatible with Joomla 4 by next few months. After that, we believe all Helix Ultimate based templates will be compatible with Joomla 4 during the stable release. But, we will add Joomla 4 support to our Helix 3 based templates gradually.
What should users do when they migrate to J4 with the templates? Will this migration imply a total change of their website? What they should expect from their template providers?
Users will have to check whether his/her template is compatible with the new Joomla 4. They should have backup and manually fix any overriding they might have made to the template. Then they can go for the Joomla 4 update. If there are any extensions that the site is dependent on, they will have to make sure these extensions are also compatible with Joomla 4 before updating.
If it is done in the right way, updating Joomla 4 will not potentially impact the site’s look and feel. It’s always wise to have a backup before updating. Users should expect their template providers to release compatible versions timely and give them the right instructions on ways to update.
As a developer, when do you need to start working on the update? As soon as possible, or wait for a more stable version of Joomla 4?
We have already started working on it and made considerable progress with our templates and extensions. The Joomla team should have a clear road map that defines the stages and gives us a clear deadline.
I think it’s not wise for developers to wait for the stable release. They should start working on compatibility beforehand, as customers will be excited and expect to update as early as possible. If developers fail to deliver template and extension compatibility timely, Joomla may lose market share to a greater extent. In that case, I think Joomla should encourage the developers to make their extensions compatible with Joomla 4.
How do the different types of versions impact the update of templates (alpha, beta, RC)?
Joomla 4 release is really unpredictable from the beginning. We have seen so many designs changed from alpha to beta. Well, many developers already made their extensions compatible with alpha versions years ago and the design changed several times and the developers wasted their time. However, I believe the current admin interface we have right now is the final design for Joomla 4 and if the production leadership stick to this design and share a release schedule will be really helpful for the extensions' developers. A transparent timeline of beta, RC and stable will be the right step.
Joomla 3 uses Bootstrap 2, Joomla 4 uses Bootstrap 4, how does this update affect your templates?
Fortunately, our Helix Ultimate based templates are built on top of Bootstrap 4 and this will be an advantage for us. About Helix 3 based templates, we will need to find a solution or have to update Helix 3 to Bootstrap 4. But, if you ask me about my opinion, I will say that Joomla should not add any frontend framework in the core. For example, during the time of Joomla 4 availability, Bootstrap 5 will be released and we will again fall behind.
How do you expect the launch of J4 to impact your business?
It's difficult to say anything about this at this stage. The main challenge is we have to continue support for both Joomla 3 and Joomla 4 simultaneously. We are working for compatibility, and we will have to run some extra miles for support. So, there's a lot that Joomla 4 is adding to our to-do list.
But, success is not solely dependent on our work. We also use some third-party extensions. If the compatibility is not ensured timely for both templates and extensions, Joomla will lose a considerable market share. So, success depends on the entire Joomla ecosystem. Everyone with a template or extension will have to play their part. After all, it's a huge shift that may lead Joomla in any direction.
I totally agree that "it’s not wise for developers to wait for the stable (Joomla 4) release". Joomla developers should prepare their products ready for Joomla 4 then Joomla users can experience Joomla 4 as soon as possible.
I would like to refer you a free Joomla 4 template based on Joomla 4 beta 4 - Sj Basic4: https://joomla4.smartaddons.com/sj-basic4/
The used extensions also are compatible with Joomla 4 beta 4.
You can try and see the differences in Joomla 4.