Follow up extension developers: J4 how is it going
After our previous series last year about how extension developers are getting their extensions ready for Joomla 4, we now have contacted a few developers in how in hindsight this transition went and if they came across challenges.
Tell us a little about your company
DJ-Extensions: DJ-Extensions has provided Joomla extensions since Joomla 1.5 showed up for over 15 years. 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.
Hikari Software: We have been developing HikaShop, an ecommerce solution for Joomla for the past 12 years. Along with it, we’ve developed other components, plugins and modules, about 200 hundreds in total.
Tassos: We are a small Joomla development company, based in Greece. Everything started back in 2014 when we published our first extension on JED as an experimental side project for one of our clients. The rest is history. At the moment of writing this, 2 of our extensions (Convert Forms and EngageBox) are in the top 10 most popular apps in Joomla market with over 1,000 reviews combined!
Were there challenges in updating your extensions to Joomla 4?
DJ-Extensions: Yes, there were significant challenges in updating our extensions to Joomla 4. The biggest challenge was that our extensions had been developed for many years and had a lot of code we needed to rewrite while keeping in mind existing J3 users and backward compatibility. Technically, the most challenging was to rewrite views and layouts, replacing MooTools with JQuery and Bootstrap 2 with Bootstrap 5.
We spent a lot of time ensuring that our extensions were updated correctly and worked seamlessly with Joomla 4. Overall, it was a significant undertaking, but we're delighted with the final results. Our extensions are now fully compatible with Joomla 4 and take advantage of all its improvements.
Hikari Software: We prepared for it during the alpha/beta/release candidate period (so for 2 years), so having the extensions compatible with Joomla 4, was no problem. However, there were many unexpected fixes here and there for features, or combinations of features, that are not used a lot. And even 1 year after the first version of Joomla 4, we’re still adding bug fixes for Joomla 4 on every version of HikaShop.
Tassos: Absolutely! We started preparing our extensions for Joomla 4 since Joomla 4 beta 2, a bit late to be honest, as the roadmap for Joomla 4 was a bit vague at that time. Since then, we have struggled with a lot of compatibility issues and bugs.
The biggest challenge we faced was actually a dilemma. Should we ship 2 separate installation packages for Joomla 3 and Joomla 4 or have one installation package for both, a so-called cross-compatible version? We went with the latter and we are really glad about our choice as this has kept the maintenance and support to the minimum.
Did you update all extension(s) or are you perhaps still busy updating them?
DJ-Extensions: We have completed the most critical updates, and we are now in the process of updating some of the more minor free extensions. Of course, this is always an ongoing process of improving extensions and fixing the reported issues.
Hikari Software: We updated all of our extensions.
Tassos: Right now, all of our Joomla extensions are 100% compatible with Joomla 4. However, it is definitely a never-ending process to ensure our extensions don’t break on Joomla 4. Therefore, we are still busy!
How much did you spend on updating your extension(s)?
DJ-Extensions: It is a sensitive question (laughing), and I won't share the specific amounts. But it was a lot of time and money invested, and it will take some time to pay off. However, I believe it was worth it, as the new versions have generated great interest. Joomla 4 is a significant step forward and a whole new level, and the future looks bright.
Hikari Software: If we count the amount of time we prepared before the first version of Joomla, the update in itself, and all the patches from 1 year ago, we spent a lot of time working on it.
Tassos: To be honest, I can’t tell. I am not a big fan of time tracking. As I mentioned earlier, we are still fixing minor issues for Joomla 4 almost every day. The feedback from our customers helps us address those issues quickly.
Did you receive feedback from your users on the new version(s)?
DJ-Extensions: Yes, and at this point, I must say that we are incredibly grateful to our users for their patience in the case of most wanted extension updates, as well as for all the constructive feedback we've received from them after releasing J!4 updates. We always welcome input, which helps keep our extensions running smoothly and maintaining high quality.
Generally speaking, testing all possible scenarios was challenging due to the complexity of our most significant components, so some issues were inevitable. We've received a lot of valuable feedback and, obviously, some complaints. Still, I must say that the vast majority of customers are delighted and give us positive feedback on the new version of Joomla and the performance of our extensions installed on it.
Hikari Software: Yes. Most bug fixes for Joomla 4 in our extensions since a year ago came from a bug report from a user. We also got feedback on new capabilities of Joomla 4, and we implemented several of them.
Is the Joomla 4 version(s) more popular or still the Joomla 3 version(s)?
DJ-Extensions: It is difficult to say with certainty because, at this point, our components are compatible with both Joomla 3 and Joomla 4 versions. So, we can not simply count it based on the number of downloads. But indeed, there is a significant interest and many questions about Joomla 4. So it seems that Joomla 4 is becoming more popular now. We are also noticing an increase in clients new to Joomla, which is most likely also the Joomla 4 effect and a good prognosis for the future.
Hikari Software: While there are still more websites running Joomla 3, almost all the new websites we see made with HikaShop are using Joomla 4.
Tassos: It’s really hard to tell as we offer a single installation package for both Joomla 3 and Joomla 4. One interesting point I am seeing is the number of Joomla 4 sites we are asked to support is increasing steadily every day. We could say that users seem to trust Joomla 4 more than Joomla 3.
Do you have anything you want to share with our readers?
DJ-Extensions: Joomla 4 is such a significant change, and I'm crossing my fingers for its popularity. I know that sometimes the transition to Joomla 4 is not super easy, given all the extensions and templates used on the current website, but it is worth it. For those who contact us, we always try to analyze their situation for free and advise on the best way to migrate, and, if interested, provide a price for the related work. So, I encourage all to contact us or any other Joomla-related developers if they have specific concerns regarding moving to this new world of Joomla 4.
Tassos: Keeping 3rd party extensions to a minimum is now easier than ever with Joomla 4. Whenever possible, stick to the core features. If you must install an extension, choose a trusted extension provider that regularly updates its software.