5 minutes reading time (909 words)

Smooth operators. A thank you to the Release Managers of 5.0


Stability and reliability are keywords when it comes to any software release. Only hindsight shows whether such was achieved. Yet Joomla 5.0 hit these two requirements and many more, nailing that many have said is the best release of a major to date. Yes, we need to celebrate the features, but often all the hard work can be eclipsed by the issues that follow. 

It takes time to establish a legacy, and 5.0 will be known for a smooth transition from 4.0. For people with many sites to migrate, each major migration can cause some sleepless nights, wondering how it will be. 5.0 helped me sleep well at night and is worth its weight in gold, or should that be bitcoins if a digital asset!

It was on the 17th of October, 2023, that Joomla 5.0 was released. It built on the epic work laid down by George Wilson with the release of Joomla 4.0, but more than that it was the culmination of several ideological changes that George didn't have when he was working on 4.0

Change in ethos

For one, we had in place a roadmap stating that there are two years between majors and minors every six months.

It took a while to bed in, and there were changes to the plans following community feedback.
It is worth reading the articles that lead to change and remembering the predictions of doom and despair that would follow if we did make the changes to a two year major release cycle and four minors every six months:

Another change was to ensure that there would always be two release managers. No longer will the task fall to just one poor individual to soldier on; it's a shared responsibility. This helps to achieve the tight time frame and avoid burnout.

The tight timeframe helps to move more smoothly with the changes in MySQL, PHP, and the services Joomla relies on. The longer a release takes, the bigger the step.

If you picture a hill, always on the up, the longer the steps, the higher each step has to be to move up that hill. Smaller steps and a smoother, slower incline for each step. And that's just how it is, PHP, MySQL and other libraries and dependencies will continue regardless of Joomla's development. We have to keep pace to avoid using security-prone versions, and the new strict timetable is a great compromise to keep it all moving along in sync.

The original team

The team that had set out a year earlier to build Joomla 5 was made up of Niels Braczek and Harald Leithner. Great talent, both very capable of seeing the job through. Niels put forward some ideas to the production department and the members ranked them in order of priority. This was a help in creating the features list and setting a focus on what the release would be capable of delivering.

One goal was to make the migration as easy as possible, and Harald proposed a plugin that could work as a compatibility plugin. It would be switched on by default with any migration, and then once all your extensions were capable of coping with the changes needed for Joomla 5, you could switch it off. This would result in a faster-running site with all the advantages the new coding practices could bring.

This proved to be the much-needed breakthrough which allows developers and site builders to migrate without the larger backward compatibility breaks that have plagued previous Joomla updates (not just majors). It became so well managed via the plugin that Joomla 5.0 was classed as an upgrade and not an migration!

A change at the helm

Unfortunately, Niels became unwell and could no longer continue as release manager.
In stepped Benjamin Trenkle, who worked well with his good friend Harald and helped organise the work needed to make the Major a real success.

It's worth looking over the new features and improvements that Joomla 5.0 brought.

  • Dark Mode in Administrator
  • Web Assets and Caching
  • Schema.org Integration
  • Code Optimisation
  • PHP & Bootstrap Updates
  • User Interface: Enhancements in dark mode for the Atum administrator template and the new Joomla modal window for select buttons promise a smoother user experience.
  • Tools & Plugins: The TinyMCE editor gets an update to 6.7 with added image alignment features.
  • Media Management: AVIF support in the media manager and the ability to exclude archived content from smart search indexing improve media handling capabilities.
  • Menu sorting
  • Enhanced Security: Events have been migrated to their classes, and the removal of no longer functional Recaptcha plugins boosts security.
  • Internal code restructuring focuses on utilising more modern APIs.
  • JS Import map support for Web Asset Manager and deprecated fixes for php 8.2.
  • Fontawesome 6.4
  • Codemirror 6
  • Removal of es5 support

A full list is in the release article.


So, to close this recap, thank you to the people who made it happen, led from the front, took the flack but came through. Thank you for standing by your convictions and delivering a world-class Major release for Joomla!

And a big thank you to all the others who were involved in making it happen. There are many players in all of the teams that bring the releases to the public, and it is amazing just what a good job they all do in their spare time and for free.
Thank you; you are certainly going to be a hard act to follow.

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