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The Beta1 for the beloved Joomla! 3.2 is finally out ready for download, with more than 200 fixed bugs and lots of new features, the most relevant new features are:

 

  • 31266 - GSoC 2013 - Improved Template Manager
  • GSoC 2013 - Removed Mootools dependencies
  • 30944 - Content versioning for core and third-party components
  • 31704 - Two factor authentication for Joomla!
  • 31725 - Joomla multilingual site automatic installer
  • 31977 - Component for Post-Installation Messages

The official release announcement and notes can be see here.

Installation

The installation is quite the same from 3.1, all the steps and screens looks the same as shown in the fig-1.

 fig-1: Installation wizard initial screen

New Post Installation and Upgrade Messages View

After the installation finished with no problems the first different thing I noticed was the new Post Installation Messages as shown in fig-2.

fig-2: Cpanel screen

If you click on the Review Messages button, you will see the new Post-Installation and Upgrade Messages view (See fig-3), that shows messages related to those operation previously mentioned. On the right column there is an iframe that displays an awkward looking preview of the official releases notes, I think maybe a syndicated RSS feed could be a nicer alternative to avoid the use of iframes but will see in the near future how this view evolves.

fig-3: Post Installation and Upgrades Messages Screen

When you finish the review of all the messages next thing you will see is a quite big hero unit message telling you that there is no more messages but giving you the option to reset those messages you chose to hide. See fig-4.

fig-4: No more messages on Post Installation Messages View

 

A Polished Control Panel

Taking another look at the control panel (formerly known as dashboard) we can see we got a bunch of small changes in the structure and design of the control panel compared with the control panel from 3.1 as shown in fig-5.

fig-5: Control Panel 3.1 vs 3.2b1

The control panel on Joomla! 3.2b1 uses now headings to create logical groups of options and also uses nice looking icons to make easy and user friendly those lists of options that had a dry and plain design before. At the top of the page the frontend link got moved to the right and the control panel  got a new vectorized icon that looks nice on any screen size or zoom, same happens with the small Joomla! logo. 

The Article Manager

First thing we can notice is that the last two action buttons Options and Help are now aligned to the right, also we can see a new dropdown menu on each item of the manager list as shown in fig-6 that contains the options Archive and Trash.

fig-6: Article Manager Screen

This same changes can be seen on any of the other components like the contact manager, banners, etc.

Article Editor Got Some Good Love

No more old looking editor from the 1.5 era, now we got a really neat and nice looking editor (See fig-7) that blend very good with the overall Joomla! backend template. The Editor now have a better and streamlined design, with nice looking minimalist icons, the view port is higher, a new tool bar at the top to group some of the formatting options and other tools.

fig-7: New Editor Screen

Finally the special chars table dialog, the insert image dialog, the links insertion dialog and the source code view dialog are not inside and ugly floating window anymore, they are now inside modal a window, that looks pretty good and works as they should. See fig-8.

fig-8: Editor Modal Views

Content Versioning Test Drive

Playing around with this new feature we can conclude that it is very easy to use and intuitive. For those that don't know what is this about, the content versioning is a new Joomla 3.2b1 feature that gives you the ability to create snapshots or restore points of your article content. Every time you press the save button a new restore point is created automatically and silently, at the right side of your editor you got a columns  with several options (See fig-9), at the bottom you have the Version Note field where you can define a custom note for the next restore point that will be create when you press the Save button.

fig-9: Version Notes Field

To try this new feature I ran this small test:

  • Open one of the example content articles
  • Set the Version Notes = ver 1, to mark the original content
  • Added a new paragrap
  • Removed another paragraph
  • Set the Version Note = ver 2
  • Save changes

After this steps I press the Versions button which opens a modal window as shown below (See fig-10).

fig-10: Version History Manager Viewa

This view is quite self explanatory, each item is a restore point, the little yellow start marks the actual version of the content we are working with, select one of the items and press the button Restore and the content will be reverted to the version you just selected and of course the little start will now mark that item.

The Preview button opens a new window with a two columns layout that displays the restore point content and also the article parameters. To be honest this got me by surprise, I expected to see version history for the content only but not for the parameters +1 for this idea. As shown in fig-10, the left column is the list of all the article parameters and the right  columns is the article content.

fig-10: Restore Point Preview

Another nice feature of the Version History Manager is the Compare tool. Select two different points and press the Compare button, next thing you will see is a new floating window with the two versions side by side and the difference between them but nicely colored. See fig-11. The content colored in red is content that was removed and the content colored in green is content that was added.

fig-11: Version History Compare Tool

The Extension Manager

Oh yeah the extension manager is another piece of the Joomla! machinery that got some love too, when we open the Extension manager the first thing we will see is a message at the top asking us if we want to install a feature called "Install From Web" (See fig-12).

fig-12: Extension Manager Screen

 

This feature is called by some people "The Joomla! App Store" which is a nice name I but I have no idea why the Joomla! developers did not used this name, maybe to avoid legal problems or confusion. Anyways... after you press the button Add "install From Web" Tab, that extension will get installed, some post installation messages will be displayed and a new tab labeled "Install From Web" will be added at the extension manager as show bellow in fig-13.

fig-13: Install From Web Tab

This new feature is pretty much lik a Linux repository or the Ubuntu Software Center where you can search software by name and keywords. For example lets search a 3rd party extension to add a comment section to our Joomla! articles, a good one I know is Disqus. See fig-14.

fig-14: Install From Web Demo

There isn't much to explain here, if you press the Install button Joomla! will show another view asking for confirmation to install this new extension, so if you confirm the installation Joomla! silently download the package, install it and display a post installation message when the installation finishes. The other two buttons are self explanatory.

This is all for this review, I hope you enjoy and find useful the content of this article, is nice too see how Joomla! is becoming a very strong and full featured tool and finally catching up with the other popular CMSs. If you have any question hit me at the comment section below.

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