There seems to be a growing tendency for software updates to be pushed out to users at a fixed and high frequency. I’ve kind of got used to this through Ubuntu GNU/Linux releases every 6 months (but there it’s generally a large collection of packages, many of which will have had significant updates during the 6 months). Additionally, periodically a release is denoted for Long Term Support.

More questionable is the Rapid Release cycle adopted by Mozilla for Firefox. In this release cycle, updates are pushed out four times a year. For most domestic users, this might not be a problem (it’s not a major hassle updating a browser), but for the corporate sector, it’s a headache for the IT managers (Rapid-release Firefox meets corporate backlash).

What then do I make of the upcoming release schedule for the Joomla! CMS which I use for a number of sites? You can see the sort of situation in this infographic:

This strategy seems to involve releases of different support durations, which is confusing in itself.  To add further complexity to the upgrade path is that often upgrade requires database changes as well as updating files.  For the 1.6.5 to 1.7.0 migration, the Joomla! devs have kindly supplied a ‘one click’ upgrade tool accessible from the back end of the site to be migrated.  Unfortunately on the two sites I’ve tried it on, it doesn’t work.  The second method proposed in the documentation, in which a migration package is manually applied through the extension manager, also doesn’t work.  Irritatingly (and I presume this is to to with my particular hosting company’s setup), there’s no feedback to indicate where the problem lies.  At least not that I can find.  And the migration documentation isn’t too much help.

Yet another level of complexity is presented succinctly in this snippet from the documentation:

Check that all installed extensions are compatible with Joomla 1.7 by checking the JED Listing or developer site.

Very wise advice (and I suspect it could include templates).  I use several extensions on my sites – none very exceptional – and few appear to be compatible with Joomla! 1.7 so far.

OK, so I probably can’t migrate my sites until the extensions and templates are compatible with 1.7.  Who knows how long that may take?  I have every sympathy with the extension developers, who have presumably found themselves at the mercy of a rapid release schedule!

As it is, I’m looking at the manual installation, where I have to copy a whole bunch of files and folders over to the site, delete another bunch of files and folders, conduct a migration of the database using an sql script.  Now, I’m competent to do this, but it seems like quite a hassle, particularly when the version being installed is only going to be supported for 6 months (and half a month has already elapsed!).

Looking at the release schedule, it looks very much as though version 1.5 will be supported beyond 1.6, and to the point when the replacement for 1.7 is released.  Perhaps I ought to have hung on to 1.5, missing out releases 1.6 and 1.7?  I see security updates for 1.6 continuing for the moment, but for how much longer?  Maybe migration out of Joomla! is the best course?