Joomla 5 has officially entered the alpha testing phase with a few new features. I'm going to discuss some of them and give my opinions on the new version.
To begin, Joomla 5 isn't as large of an update as previous major revisions were. Nearly all the extensions and templates that worked with Joomla 4 will work with Joomla 5. They didn't remove the (still often used) depreciated functions from Joomla 4.
At this point, the biggest changes over Joomla 4 will be:
- Updated TinyMCE and CodeMirror WYSIWYG editors
- Updated FontAwesome and BootStrap
- Updated System Requirements (PHP 8.1 - and MySQL 8.0.11, MariaDB 10.4 or PostgreSQL 12)
- Improvements to SmartSearch and SEO
Really, the only difference I think most people might notice is the newly updated editors. Currently, Joomla 5 alpha looks and feels almost identical to Joomla 4. It's using the same template on the front end and back end, and all the options are nearly identical.
As you can see, the only difference to the general interface is that some of the icons have changed with the new version of FontAwesome.
Here's what the new version of TinyMCE looks like compared to the old...
More changes will be made under the hood. A lot of the Joomla 4 code base needs to be cleaned up to make it easier to follow and better structured. The news article on this was quite vague, so I'll have to review Git for changes.
Overall, it seems like Joomla 5 is shaping up to be more of a... transitional update. Although there are many meaningful improvements, it's not as huge of an update as the name might suggest. In fact, I personally would have preferred it if they stuck to the Joomla 4 branding and just made it Joomla 4.5.
Currently, all my Intro to Joomla tutorial videos on YouTube have big headlines saying "Joomla 4" - I don't want to redo hours of content if really nothing changed for the end user. I'll also have to update all the material on my site's dozens of articles to reflect Joomla 5, even though it's really no different from the Joomla 4 version.
Considering the lack of updated general developer documentation that still exists on Joomla's official website for Joomla 4, I find it annoying from this standpoint that we're jumping to 5. I think the J5 versioning might have the adverse affect of confusing users and making a lot of existing documentation seem out of date when really it isn't.
Joomla 5 is expected to enter RC phase in September with the official release in October of 2023.