{kun´ēzē}
1 1 1 1 1
24Jul2016

The myths, folklore and hearsay about J! 3.6.0

Information
1041 hits Updated: 24 July 2016

Joomla 3.6.0 is here.  What should we do about it?

Key points to how to build a trouble-free website

J! 3.6.0 was released about a week ago. If people have enabled the System - Joomla! Update Notification plugin (this was a new feature introduced in J! 3.5) they are probably receiving emails[1] once or twice a day advising them to upgrade to J! 3.6.0. There are three things you can do: you can ignore the emails, disable the plugin, or upgrade.

Since the announcement of J! 3.6.0 the Joomla forum has been filled with stories—mostly tales of woe—about difficulties that people have experienced. Like most people, one reads these stories to gauge the veracity of claims that people have made before taking that giant leap-of-faith and going ahead with the procedure oneself.

There are a couple of known issues but, for the most part, they are relatively insignificant.

  • Reports have been received that, following the upgrade to J! 3.6, the "Install From Folder" option is missing; I haven't encountered this problem myself but it has been addressed in J! 3.6.1.
  • The redirect on logout is problematic; I can affirm that this is the case and it is supposed to the fixed in J! 3.6.1

Neither of these are showstoppers and neither are reasons to not upgrade.

Apparently there are over 400 improvements added to J! 3.6 . Although I haven't had the opportunity to experiment with all of these things (obviously), one of the most-anticipated ones has been a long-overdue upgrade to the jQuery library.

So why have I been “lucky” and why have other people had so many problems?  The answer comes back to good management, keeping things simple and managing the risks.  Of course nothing is foolproof; problems happen but that doesn't mean that one problem should reason enough to believe everything that you read.  Therefore, in the interests of helping others know how to minimise these risks, the following discussion of some helpful ways that that may avoid potential problems.

Tips to keep out of trouble

There is no such thing as bad luck

I do not believe in goblins, ghouls or “things that go bump in the night”.  You make your own luck and there are some very simple ways to avoid having bad luck.

Keep it simple: I don’t why people need to install hundreds of extra features that they rarely use, that clutter their sites, that are badly written (and look hideous) and that don’t serve any useful purpose.  Sure, if people want to install hundreds of extra extensions on their websites that’s entirely a matter of choice but, when things go south and they’re back against the wall under pressure to fix their site that has broken, don’t say we didn’t warn you. Further, the more “features” you add to your website, the less likely they will be appreciated by the people who view it.  People like websites that are clean, easy to navigate and that help them obtain what they’re looking for.  If you are spending nine-tenths of your time adding and maintaining the side-shows and only one-tenth on adding new content I think you will agree that you are making a poor investment of your time[2].  The more gee-gaws that you add, the more likely you will have “bad luck”.

Keep it simple!  If you must install additional software then make sure it came from a reputable source and that you have help when you get into trouble.  Beware the temptation to install something simply because it “looks good”[3].

Do your own research

New versions of Joomla do not magically appear out of thin air.  The development of new versions of Joomla is undertaken by a group of dedicated volunteers who discuss, debate, argue and compromise and peer review one another's contributions.  Instead of “believing” what you may read in independent commentaries go to the source.  New versions of Joomla are developed not just because someone had a flash of inspiration to do something different but because a group of professionals considered the need for change, the need to remain or improve Joomla's relevance in the modern internet world, and the desirability of implementing those changes for the benefit of the millions of people who use Joomla each day.

There are too many people who use internet forums or blogs to allege that new versions of Joomla have problems.  I do not doubt that the stories that people tell about their problems are not genuine but I doubt that the reasons for their problems lie solely at the feet of the Joomla developers and simply appeared only because of attempting to upgrade to J! 3.6.  There are many reasons why some things work well for some people and why some things do not work for others.  Every website is different:  different hosting platforms, different underlying hardware and software, extensions as well as they way each of us approaches the business of operating and maintaining our site.

The myths, folklore and hearsay about Joomla 3.6

The Joomla forum is replete with stories about how upgrading to J! 3.6 broke their websites.  People have written that they’ve been locked-out, that emails are not being sent, they cannot save module settings or article changes, their menus are redirecting to non-existent targets and they’ve even gone as far as suggesting that their website have “lost” their rankings in the search engines.  Who knows how or why these things have occurred or whether “lost” any truth in such widely diverse and fanciful suggestions.  I understand the frustration that people have when problems occur (and it’s also reasonable that these problems disappear when people roll-back their sites to a previous backed-up version) but I think it’s unfair to play the “blame game”.

As mentioned earlier, there are two substantiated claims that cannot easily be dismissed; one of them is the logout redirection problem; the other is not something I have personally seen for myself.

When the dust finally settles on these diverse and unexplained problems I think we will find that the reasons for the lock-outs, failed emails, inability to save, menu problems and “lost rankings” have nothing to do with J! 3.6 per se but were caused by third-party extensions that were incompatible with J! 3.6.  I think we will find that there was more going on behind the scenes that people did not disclose when they requested help from the community about the problems they were having.  And, in case you were wondering:  if the claim about not being able to create, modify and save articles in J! 3.6.0 was true, how do you explain the existence of this article you’re now reading?

Internet forums are great places to read horror stories, tales of misery and countless problems that people experience.  People rarely take the time to search for questions that relate to their current difficulties:  they join a forum, post their question, and rarely take the time to say “thank you” when they receive a reply.  Far too much use is made of discussion forums for people to complain and vent their anger and frustration and not enough time is taken to report the successes that people have had.

And, finally—just to quash some of the more outrageous rumours I have heard—J! 3.6.0 is not responsible for Twitter hashtag trends, El Niño or changes in people’s internet surfing habits.

Building good foundations

Just as any builder will tell you that you cannot build a building unless you have good foundations, you cannot build a website without doing the necessary foundation work.  Here is a checklist for a successful upgrade to J! 3.6.0.

  1. Agree that upgrading to J! 3.6.0 is necessary.  If you don't agree with me then there’s even no point in having this discussion.  You know the risks and if—or when—one day your website breaks (and then you decide that it may be “necessary”) just remember that you were warned of the risks in not keeping your site up-to-date, weren’t you?
  2. Make the time!  Do not put this off until next week or next month.  Do it now; make the time; this is important even if it’s not urgent … yet!
  3. Do your own research.  Use the opportunity to review what you’re doing.  Use analytic tools to see which pages your visitors are viewing; maybe it’s time for some things to go?
  4. Test the upgrade on a non-critical site.  If you do not have a test site then build one.  Test J! 3.6.0 on a “vanilla flavoured” site on your webhost.  Make sure that, out of the box, you can run J! 3.6 on your webhost.  If you cannot run J! 3.6 on your current hosting platform then look for a webhost where you can!
  5. Update your Joomla extensions first.  Make sure that all the extensions you use are the latest versions.  Check with the developers of those extensions that there are no known compatibility issues with J! 3.6.
  6. Test the upgrade on a copy of your production site.  If you do not have a copy of your live, production site then build one.  It is better to discover problems there before you encounter issues that may jeopardise your business.
  7. Make sure you have a good off-site backup of your production site and that you know how to restore your site to operation just in case something goes wrong.
  8. Take the plunge.  You may discover that you had nothing to worry about.

Notes:

[1]  The appearance and frequency of these reminder emails is a somewhat controversial discussion.  For further information, see http://forum.joomla.org/viewtopic.php?f=728&t=917360.

[2]  How you decide to invest your time is entirely your business.  I have no idea (nor interest) in how you decide to spend your time but I appreciate the time you took to read this footnote.

[3]  There is a “law” of business that goes like this: “the financial solvency of a company is inversely proportional to the décor of the reception area”.  To put it another way, the prettier something looks, the more suspicious you should be of it.  cf. “all that glitters is not gold”.

About the author:

is a Joomla professional and former member of the Kunena project for more than 8 years—a substantial contributor to the original Kunena documentation project with over twenty thousand messages posted at the Kunena forum. The opinions expressed in this article are entirely those of the author. View his profile here.


Comments  
# Lee Ward 23-Apr-2017 10:21
I am having more fun reading your site than reading for fixes in Kunena. Followed breadcrumbs to get here.

Keep typing.
Reply | Reply with quote | Quote
Add comment
By submitting this form you agree to the site policy. All guest comments are subject to approval before they will be published.


Trending now