Getting extensions ready for Joomla 4 - Tomasz Kowalski (DJ-Extensions)
For some months now, we have been approaching extension developers to ask them how they are working towards Joomla 4. This time we talked to Tomasz Kowalski, from DJ-Extensions, whose primary focus is on the customers and making the next version upgrade as smooth as possible.
Thanks for joining us in this series, Tomasz! Could you tell us a little about your extensions?
Hello, and thank you for this opportunity to answer the questions about Joomla 4!
DJ-Extensions provides Joomla extensions since Joomla 1.5 showed up. Most of the extensions came about due to the need of our clients to add the functionality they needed. At some point, we decided to make them available to other users who may have similar requirements.
Currently, we provide ten premium extensions and 25 free extensions for the community.
The most popular extension is DJ-Classifieds - the complete classified ads extension with a vast number of integrations, monetizing options, payment methods for almost any part of the world.
Other are DJ-Catalog2 - e-commerce and directory that allows building advanced shops capable of providing thousands of products, DJ-MegaMenu - accessible mega menu, and DJ-MediaTools - a slider and gallery extension.
The most popular free extensions are DJ-ImageSlider and DJ-MegaMenu free version. Recently DJ-WebP and DJ-Notifications became popular, as they quickly solve simple problems for SEO and UX accordingly.
The extensions evolve mainly because of our clients' requests. That's why users can find many unique solutions that solve their problems and work with each other, allowing them to build complete Joomla websites. Our set of extensions is unique as you can pick those you need for a particular website type, and extensions will work together excellently. As mentioned, with 35 extensions we have, any Joomla user will find something interesting to try.
What will happen with your extensions when J4 is released? Will they be compatible, or will you have to provide complete new versions?
Some of our extensions are already compatible with Joomla 4. DJ-MegaMenu (free and pro versions), DJ-MediaTools, DJ-ImageSlider, DJ-Tabs, DJ-Events. We're currently working on Joomla 4 versions for DJ-Classifieds - that's the most significant extension we have that needs a lot of work, as we also do a lot of code changes to make better Joomla 4 adoption.
DJ-Catalog2 works are also quite advanced; we'll also be adding Joomla 4 compatibility to the more minor and free extensions soon.
We are focusing on bringing the dual Joomla 3 and Joomla 4 compatibility for our extensions to make the migration as smooth as possible to our users and keep the best support for current users.
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?
The way I'd suggest migrating to Joomla 4 would be first making a copy of the Joomla 3 website and updating it in a safe environment first.
After that, it's easy to see how the system behaves post to the upgrade. Then do some tests. Only after that, when all works fine, repeat the process on the live environment (or use the copy migrated to Joomla 4).
Joomla 4 upgrade is a big step forward and a significant change. As previously with other LTS versions like 1.5, 2.5, and 3, a lot can happen. From our perspective, we're trying to prepare the process as smooth and standard as possible by providing both system versions of the extensions in one package that does not require data migrations.
I think extension providers should provide clear information on the upgrade process and be there if any help is needed to assist their users in a successful upgrade to the new system. Not everything can be anticipated, so being there for the users is essential.
As a developer, would you say it is essential to start preparing extensions as soon as possible?
The best time to start working on the compatible versions of the extensions is when the Beta versions are available. Usually, there are no fundamental changes in the code and architecture when they appear, and that's an excellent time to start.
I'm sure Joomla 4 will bring new users looking for extensions for the latest Joomla version. Still, it's also essential to keep the current Joomla 3 users updated versions for the system and support them when upgrading.
What impact do the different types of Joomla versions (alpha, beta, RC) have on updating extensions?
I think the alpha version is a good indicator of the direction of the development. Then when the beta arrives, it's a good time to start developing the extensions when the system is almost complete. RC is when we can say that the system is ready and only bugs that arise need to be addressed.
How do you expect the launch of J4 to impact your business?
Looking at the Joomla 4 approach and how it is different from Joomla 3, I think this is the most significant upgrade in Joomla's history. I've been with Joomla since version 1.0, and each upgrade made it better and more friendly to the users.
With Joomla 4, I hope it can bring more new users to the Joomla ecosystem than with previous upgrades. Joomla is currently one of the most complete and reliable systems to build professional websites, and I hope with the Joomla 4 release, it will eventually get the attention it deserves. Joomla developers did great work with the architecture, code, and backend solutions that should be admired by users that need to build stable and reliable websites.
Is there anything else you would like to advise our readers regarding extensions and Joomla 4?
Joomla 4 stable will be a significant change, and I'm excited to see it used more and more. Be patient with the developers and check the extensions first, provide feedback to allow fixes and updates.
I hope Joomla 4 can be a game-changer for the CMS world, it will also need some time for mass adoption, but I feel it has great potential. Give it a try and see how powerful it is.