Good news, Joomla! true believers—Joomla! 1.6 will be released in its alpha version no later than June 22, 2009, according to Rob Schley, one of the core developers on the project. I enjoyed hearing Rob speak at Joomla! Day New England, held on May 30, 2009, in Brattleboro, Vermont.
Like me, your immediate thought is whether you should download it and start learning the newest version of Joomla!. As an alpha version, it’s likely to be full of bugs and landmines. You should definitely not consider using the alpha version to develop a real site for a client. The alpha is expected to be followed shortly by a beta and some release candidates, with the release version due out at the end of 2009.
Normally one might expect that as Joomla! 1.6 is released, Joomla! 1.5 support will become limited. (For example, Joomla! 1.0 support ends on July 22, 2009, and extension support for Joomla! 1.0 has been decreasing for some time.) However, this is not going to be the case.
Joomla! 1.5 will remain the “stable”, production environment for Joomla!. The 1.6 branch will be seen as quick-moving and somewhat experimental, as the core development team adds new, badly needed functionalities (better permissions system, multiple categories, and tags among them). As those technologies mature in the 1.6 branch, they might port some of the functionality back to 1.5.
Looking far into the future, Joomla! 1.7 will also be part of the faster moving track of Joomla!, while Joomla! 1.8 may become a new stable version to replace Joomla! 1.5. Both tracks will converge with Joomla! 2.0. (I don’t have dates for any of these releases.)
The plan is to support Joomla! 1.5 for at least three years, Jan 2008-Jan 2011. Of course, the further out we get in time, the less defined anything is and the more subject it is to change.
lynda.com is keeping up with the fast-moving world of Joomla!, so watch this space for more movies coming to a computer screen near you!