Joomla 3.7 released

 

 Joomla 37

The Joomla! Project is proud to announce the release of Joomla! 3.7, the latest in the ‘Joomla! 3’ series. This new release features over 700 improvements to the popular CMS, including many features which make administration of Joomla! Web sites easier and more feature-rich, as well as several security updates.

Here are some of the highlighted features:

  • Custom Fields - use extra fields, including text fields, selects and 13 other field types, in your articles, users and contacts
  • Multilingual Associations Component - translate your content easily from a single, unified interface
  • Improved Workflow - create a category, article, and menu item all in one step from within the menu manager
  • Backend Menu Manager - manage the administrator menu just like the frontend, create a different configuration for each of your backend user groups
  • Do more with TinyMCE - including new buttons to easily add menu links and contacts and many other improvements
  • Easier Extension Maintenance - prevent administrators from accidentally uninstalling needed extension package elements
  • User Experience - the little changes that make all the difference: your User Experience is improved thanks to the display of your global settings, a flatter backend template, the possibility to share sessions between apps...

There are many features to explore and we will be revisiting our components to ensure that they continue to work fine with this new Joomla release!

The future of Joomla 3 and Joomla 4

The current plan is that the next release, Joomla 3.8, will be the last in the Joomla 3 series. According to feedback from the Joomla developers, we could expect Joomla 4.0 to arrive around six months after Joomla 3.8.  We do note however that there are still regerences to Joomla 3.9 upon the Joomla web site.

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Broadband Connections

We have recently relocated and this in itself whilst being ‘fun’ has in particular provided a number of ‘opportunities’ as regards our broadband access mechanism.

Having been a BT customer for  many years our first thought was to continue using them as a broadband provider. Alas this was not possible since our ‘landlord’ didn’t want lines ‘over the property.   OK you might say, but just cancelling BT broadband was itself ‘interesting’ in that they see this as an opportunity to make money.  Not only is there a disconnection fee, but also since we paid in advance for line rental for a year they deem that any of the rental paid for the remaining part of the year is also lost. This latter cost can in itself amount to over £100 pounds.  So make a note to never pay in advance for BT services since if there is ever a need to cancel them then it is going to cost you more than you expect.

The intent was to instead make use of a cable connection.  Cable was laid to the property and all that was required was for the cable providers to come an make a connection. Sounds simple, but no, even here the cable providers fail to turn up and carry out the work, due to ‘a driver being ill’.   Strange that they only have one driver you might think, and you would not be alone. Here we are several weeks later and we are still waiting.

So we have ben forced to look at other alternatives. Many years ago we made use of a ‘wireless mobile broadband’ connection from BT.  This is effectively a dial up connection using a mobile instead of a modem.  It worked quite well but was very slow.  Dusting off the device and trying it didn’t work, mainly we suspect because if one does use a ‘mobile’ number in a period of time, often about six months the mobile number is effectively dead.   Not too surprised at this but it got us thinking and sure enough things have moved on.  Seems the current solution is ‘wireless hub’ which is a small device about a few inches square, into which one insets a mobile SIM card and once connected provides internet facilities for up to 10 devices.  These seem to be provided by most if not all of the mobile providers, and one contracts for a ‘data’ only SIM device.

There are a few things to consider.  First what is the likely usage of the data, and in particular how much data are you likely to use each month.  Often one is totally unsure of how much data would be viewed in a month, but one has to have a rough estimate, since if one exceeds the ‘monthly’ contracted usage, the use is either a) cut off for the rest of the month, or b) subject to an increased cost for the data used after the limit is exceeded.  Neither of which is a good outcome.

One contracts for a certain amount of data usage each month, and different providers have different set levels, such as 500Mb, 1Gb, 2Gb, 4Gb, 8Gb etc.   The cost is also somewhat variable between different providers.  An additional consideration is how satisfied the customers of each mobile provide are, and this alone is sufficient to eliminate a few of the possible suppliers.

Remembering our previous performance observation we were really only interested in using a 4G network. Those of you still using a portable phone on a 3G network will be aware of how slow surfing the web can be.  We selected a 30 day contract with EE for a 4G mobile SIM and so far we have been very happy with the result.  Performance wise it is faster then the fixed line speed we were used to seeing using our ‘old’ BT connection.  Cost wise, it is a little early to say, but since we are not paying for a ‘broadband connection on a fixed line’ this tends to offset tie cost a little, hence we are not really seeing a real difference per month.

Whether this is a solution for the long term, remains to be seen, but as a short term solution is is working well and should not be discounted if one ever sees oneself in a similar situation in the future. 

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Joomla 3.6 released

 joomla 3 6 stable release

The Joomla project has released its version 3.6 stable package.

This new Joomla release has lots of bug fixes and over 400 improvements to make everyone's day to day Joomla usage easier.

One thing we did like was that the Joomla team has also created a made a great Joomla 3.6 microsite highlighting all the main features. Even more items can be seen in the Joomla 3 FAQ as well as a more technical list on the project's GitHub repository.

Here are some of the highlighted features:

  • Joomla update can now perform a reinstall reverting back to default code.
  • Usability improvements that help find things easier and get things done quicker with dropdown task execution.
  • New Sub form field function for developers to take advantage of.  Developers should read this as nested forms and enhanced repeatable fields.
  • On the fly category creation will make content editors happy as they can create a new item and a new category in the same process.
  • Menu type ACL gives even more control to fine-tune permissions on backend menus.
  • New option to show all items from all menus gives a quick overview of what is displayed where on the website. It makes it easier to spot duplicated links, missing menu items or just obtain an overview of every menu on your site.

There are many features to explore and remember that our components work fine with this new Joomla release!

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Rialto v1.3.0 released

rialtoWe are pleased to announce release 1.3.0 of the Classified Ads component for Joomla named Rialto.

This component runs on Joomla 3.5.1 (and above). 

This release adds the ability for registered users to subscribe to receive messages about new and/or entries.  It also corrects a few problems found with the earlier 1.2.2 release. It also changes the front end entry creation to use JForms and provides some additional language options for messages..

See the change log and updated documentation for more details.

The release is available in the download area.

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IP Mapping 1.4.2 released

location-48IP Mapping release 1.4.2 available.

The Joomla component came from a requirement to display IP addresses of site visitors upon Google maps.

This release fixes a few newly discovered problems.

The most important is probably that the site googlecode.com is no more, the code now residing upon Github.  One consequence of this is that the it is no longer possible to link to the makercluster javascript file and we have to now include it in the distribution.  The file has also had to be modified so that it no longer directs to googlecode for images.

One other change is that the policy usage of Google Maps seems to require an API key, which has caused problems on some sites, but strangely not upon others. See more below.

We have therefore introduced two additional API keys that can be specified.  

There was formally one API key which is used by the connection to the IP InfoDB server to get the location details of the IP address.  This InfoDB key is used by the visitor agent map IF the HTML5 Geolocations is turned on. It is also used in the back end of the site.

The two new possible API keys relate to Google Maps API.  One is a browser API key and the second is a server API key.  Some sites seem to require the setting of a Google Maps API key, where as others seem not to require one. We do not know why this is the situation.

According to the Google Maps API docs a browser key or a server key will work, otherwise a NOAPIKEYS message is displayed in the browser console window.  Our tests seem to indicate that a browser API key will only work IF there are no defined HTTP referrers defined. When there is one or more HTTP referrers defined, then the maps fail to load.

Our tests using a Server API key appear to work every time.  We should also add that some sites, among which we include our own, do not require an API key, and still work fine displaying the maps. Whether this continues to be the case in the future remains to be seen. It might be wise to obtain a server API key as a possible safe guard for a future Google Maps API change.

This update has only been tested against Joomla 3.5.1.

See the changelog for details.

The release is available in the usual download location on our site.

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Issue Tracker 1.6.11 released.

issues-48We are pleased to announce the availability of Issue Tracker release 1.6.11 for Joomla

This update is mainly intended to correct the mailing of notifications and reports caused as a result of the change to the Joomla JMail API in the 3.5.1 update.

This release has not been tested against Joomla 2.5 which is unsupported.  It may run upon Joomla 2.5 but we regret that support for against such an old version of Joomla is unlikely to be available.

See the changelog for details of all of the changes.

 The update is available in the download area.

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Rialto v1.2.2 released

rialtoWe are pleased to announce release 1.2.2 of the Classified Ads component for Joomla named Rialto.

This component runs on Joomla 3.5.1 (and above). 

This release corrects a few problems found with the earlier 1.2.1 release. It also changes the front end user profile edit to use JForms.

See the change log and documentation for more details.

The release is available in the download area.

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The use of specific Component User Tables

During our development of our Time sheet component we looked very closely at the use of specific component user tables. These are tables that are specific to a component, which are/can be very useful when there is a requirement to associate some specific criteria to one or more users. i.e We might wish to enable email sending only to specific users.  This could be achieved with the use of Joomla ACL controls but often this can be a little bit overkill especially when there are a number of different combinations involved. In these situations the number of ACL groups required could/would quickly get out of hand and require a lot more overhead in determining the result if user actions in the component. Such user tables are often automatically populated by a system plugin that would automatically add any newly registered Joomla users to the component user table and also maintain any changes that the user might make to their profile such as username or email address between the Joomla user table and the component user table.

One other use for a specific component user table would be where there is a requirement for specific ‘unregistered’ users. An example might be where the component was collecting details of users who requested information upon a specific topic by filling in a form upon the site front end, and at some later stage an administrator might process such requests from the details recorded in the component user table.

Generally component user tables work well in practice but there is one large downside, which is that there is (in all of the uses we have seen),  an explicit assumption that all Joomla users will or are required to make use of the Joomla component, which is not necessarily true.  A Joomla web site will probably have a number (often in the hundreds if not thousands) of users and if the site has a specific component installed that is used for example, by internal staff only, there is no need to have additional entries in the component users table for the non-staff members. In the case of our Timesheet component only certain of the site users would make use of the component so there is no need to have an entry in the component user table for every single one of the Joomla users.

This has resulted in our implementing a change to how Joomla users are integrated into the component user table. The former mechanism of having automatic user table update by the use of the system plugin was obviously not desirable,however we did want to synchronise any updates (and deletions).  Thus we have a need to introduce an optional parameter to the system plugin which will control whether new Joomla users are automatically added to the component user table.

With this in mind we have modified a few of our components, and are in the process of modifying a few others, so that the automatic addition of Joomla users to the component users table is a system plugin option. This change is relatively trivial, but there is an additional change required, which is to provide a mechanism so that users can manually added to the component users table by a site administrator when required, such as when new staff join the company..

The first component to use these mechanisms was our Timesheet component and we have now also added our Rialto (Classified Ads) component,  Obviously in the first of these we are only interested in providing the ability to create timesheets to our internal staff.  In the later component we may only have a select sub group of users who we may want to be able to create/manage their classified advertisements. We will also add that, yes we do also include the ability in the components to use Joomla ACL rules but this alone would not address the number of entries in the component users table and could well make the administration of ACL groups a lot more complex as mentioned earlier.

There is some additional code required but the benefits include a smaller component users table, with much clearer administrative visibility and control over who is using the specific  component.  It also provides the ability to have a simple test upon whether the register user in the front end has an entry in our component user table to control what specific front end views they may be presented with.

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Rialto v1.2.1 released

rialtoWe are pleased to announce release 1.2.1 of the Classified Ads component for Joomla named Rialto.

This component runs on Joomla 3.5.1 (and above). 

This release adds adds a number of fixes and general improvements. There are no new features in this release.

See the change log and documentation for more details.

The release is available in the download area.

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IP Mapping 1.4.1 released

location-48IP Mapping release 1.4.1 available.

The Joomla component came from a requirement to display IP addresses of site visitors upon Google maps.

This minor update adds a new option to permit its usage where the web server is located behind a CDN such as Cloudflare. It offers an alternative to loading the Cloudflare plugin, but is also expected to work with other CDN sites where such a plugin is not available.  It has not been possible to test against all possible CDN systems but there are not expected to be any problems.

Other minor changes include some coding cleanups and a change to use of the window.load function in the mapper module.

See the changelog for details.

The release is available in the usual download location on our site.

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