New features in Joomla 2.5

Joomla 2.5 is out, and has a host of new features including new search functionality, multi-database support, and update notification. We take a look at the new features which make the new Joomla such a rave. The community has contributed massively to make these features possible. Moving from 1.7 to 2.5 can be done with the one-click upgrade within Joomla. Ideally, most extensions that run on 1.7 should also run on 2.5.

Supports for non-MySQL Databases

Joomla has traditionally run on the MySQL database. If your company has a different type of SQL database, such as MS SQL, then you’d have to make changes to the Joomla software to make it work, which makes updating difficult. Joomla has been rewritten so that different drivers can be written for different versions of SQL databases. Current drivers exist for the MySQL and MS SQL databases, with PostgreSQL, Oracle, SQLite and PDO drivers close to being ready.

Database Version Fix Button

Also another database related new feature has been added that will check to see that your database is up-to-date with any database schema changes added during upgrades. If out of date, you can press the Fix button to apply the needed changes. This is important for those people who are used to updating releases the 1.5 way by FTPing up the release files. With this feature, you just need to go to Extensions/Installation/Database and hit the Fix button. If you use the Update feature in Extensions/Installation/Update or install the upgrade in Extensions/Installation, you won’t need this feature.

Update Notification

The most requested feature from ideas.joomla.org was for Joomla to tell the site admin when Joomla update is available. Site administrators will now be able to see as soon as they log in if new release of Joomla is available. They can then perform the one-click update to Joomla. A second icon does the same thing for any non-core components that are set up for the one-click updating by their developers.

New Search Function

Joomla 2.5 has added an exciting new search function. The search is based on Finder, developed by jXtended. This feature adds auto-completion and stemming to search. Stemming is ability for the search to use the root of the word you entered to locate matches. This search way better at searching in most languages.

The new search is faster and more versatile that the previous search. This flexibility and speed is achieved using data indexing. As obvious, new plugins are required to use this search. Joomla ships with the new core extension plugins, but if needed developers will need to create their own plugins to work with this new search. The old standard search is active by default and this new search is disabled. You can enable the plugin and index your files when the extensions you want to search have the new plugins.

CAPTCHA moved to Core

CAPTCHA prevents robotic spammers from submitting forms. Joomla 2.5 gains an API that lets you use CAPTCHAs in your forms. The core comes with a plug-in that gives you the ability to use reCAPTCHA, the most accessible of the CAPTCHA services. Once you sign up for free with reCAPTCHA and enter your keys, you can enable CAPTCHA on new user registrations. It could also be used by other extensions needing CAPTCHA. CAPTCHA has been available in non-core extensions, but this enables the feature in core.

Other plug-ins can be created by the developer community and will work with all forms without modifying them.

New Menus linked with a Module

In Joomla 1.5 modules were automatically created for each new menu type. In Joomla 2.5, if there is no module associated with the menu, there is a link showing in the Menu Manager that you can click that will take you directly into a new module that you can create. You then have the choice of saving this standard menu module or cancelling out and using a different menu module.

Flexible Filtering by Category in Article Manager

In 1.7 when looking at articles you could filter by category. However, you didn’t have a way of selecting a category and getting all the articles that are in that category and its subcategories. In 2.5, selecting a category in the articles manager will include its subcategories, down to the depth you select. If you only want the single category, you can select a level of 1.

Manager for Language Overrides

In 1.7 you could add overrides to language files to change the text. So if you wanted to change a label, message, or tooltip, you could put the key in a text file in the right spot with the right name with the wording you wanted, once you figured out what the key was. In 1.5 it was worse where you had to hack the core.

With this new version you can make these changes in the backend itself. You can search for the text that you see and get a list of language keys and text for you to select. You can then change what you want and save it. Want to add your Company’s name to the email that goes out with the Forgot Your Password email? You can get even this done using the backend in Joomla 2.5

User Notes

Now you can attach notes and assign dates to the users in Joomla 2.5. These dates can be used for whatever you want, whether it’s a date for reviewing the user, the last date you reviewed a user or for something entirely different. You can change the label for the date using the Language Overrides. You can have multiple notes per user and the notes can be categorized.

Option to Keep Site Offline after Install

Before 2.5, when you installed Joomla it was automatically online as soon as it was installed. With this feature you have the option of having it come up offline and then keep it offline as long as you feel it needs to be.

Native ZIP Support

With this feature, now Joomla has a check during install to let you know if you have ZIP enabled as native on your host. Native ZIP is much faster than using PHP to unzip.

Alternate meta tags for multi-lingual sites

This feature adds the ability for search engines to see the meta tags and links for corresponding menu pages in other languages in the associated menu items.

Same Alias for Multi-Lingual Menu Items

With this new feature you will be able to have the same alias for menu items in different languages. You are able to get URLs like /en/blog and /br/blog.

Autoloader

With this autoloader in Joomla 2.5, developers now would not need to worry about the location of system classes they need.