Joomla! 1.6 will be partially supported

A quick note on the stability of our software and change of our support policy for Joomla! 1.6.

Dear all,

Yesterday I had to do a very rushed release of Admin Tools 2.0.4. It wasn't a scheduled release and it wasn't even properly tested. The reason I had to kick myself in the nutsack by doing such a reckless release was nothing more than Joomla! 1.6.2. The new version of the CMS introduced a backwards incompatible behaviour that made the standard toolbar buttons –defined by the CMS and added to its toolbar using the indicated CMS-provided method (JToolbarHelper)– to cease working because mooTools, the Javascript library Joomla!'s back-end relies on, was no longer automatically loaded. I had already received a ton of email regarding this issue and had to provide a fix because users don't understand when the developer is at fault and when he's taken abash by changes that are not supposed to happen in stable software. Unfortunately, a product that goes out without proper QA is unstable and that's the case with Admin Tools 2.0.4. Users of the Professional release are already reporting issues with the .htaccess Maker and I have to solve them and provide a third version in less than a month.

This dire situtation made me think very hard and take a very important business decision.

I will discontinue to provide active support of Joomla! 1.6 across all of my products. What does that mean? No, I'm not going to remove any Joomla! 1.6 related code and, of course, it does not mean that I am not going to pursue compatibility of my products with Joomla! 1.6 and its successors. However, the following issues will be treated as lowest priority issues and will not prompt me to provide an immediate solution:

  • Installation problems. I have gone through the Joomla! extensions installer code and it has the stability of Fukushima. It simply does not work properly. If even a minor installation issue happens (a query not running because your database had a hiccup, one directory not having adequate permissions etc)Joomla! 1.6 will completely and utterly screw up your database. Reinstalling the component whose installation failed requires manually editing 3-6 tables (depending on how bad the installer screwed up), otherwise it is completely impossible to reinstall the software. I have notified the Joomla! bug squad, provided a quick and dirty patch, the current maintainer is notified as well and this issue is now pending. Unless it's resolved, if you have an installation problem under Joomla! 1.6 I will simply point you to the tracker and decline any assistance, not because I'm lazy but because I can't fix it any more than providing a patch to the Joomla! development team! Exception: if you are a subscriber to the AKEEBADELUXE package, you can give me full hosting account access to your site and I will fix the installation for you; that kind of service is included in your subscription.
  • Language issues. The language handling system has changed a lot and there will still be hickups with missing strings, etc. Unfortunately, fixing all of them for Joomla! 1.6 means breaking Joomla! 1.5 installation. Majority wins and the majority is still running Joomla! 1.5. So, yes, some non-English users (yours truly included) will have to bear with some untranslated strings like Yes/No.
  • Operational issues due to the ever changing API. Joomla! 1.6.2 introduced a backwards incompatible code change. This may happen again during the life of 1.6 and its successor, 1.7. If that happens, you will have to wait for a full release cycle of 1-2 months before it gets fixed. No more hotfix releases for such issues. After all, this kind of API changes should not happen, but have happened from Beta 13 to RC, RC to 1.6.0 and 1.6.1 to 1.6.2. I've had enough of this and can no longer take it. If it breaks, it breaks. If you can't use my software because Joomla! did something to break it, it will be broken until it's fixed, plain and simple. I might be able to provide you with a developer's release that addresses this issue and you can use it at your own risk. Developer releases have not gone through any QA and might break stuff, but that's the best I can do for you.
  • ACL and component options issues. If you spot a bug in these areas, most likely it's because the fix would break compatibility with Joomla! 1.5 or because it's a new feature not fully tested. Report it and I will tell you if it can be fixed. Likewise, I might tell you to use a Developer's Release at your own risk.

Please note that major functional issues like restoration of backup archives taken with Akeeba Backup or partial/full loss of functionality when using Admin Tools Professional will still be treated as high priority bugs. These have nothing to do with the ever changing nature of Joomla! 1.6 and will, of course, be treated promptly. If it's a really serious bug, a hotfix package will released as per my usual policy. All of the bugs arising from new or changed APIs in Joomla! 1.6 will be treated as low priority bugs and you will have to wait for a full release cycle before you see any fix, if and only if fixing them does not cause problems with Joomla! 1.5 installations.

If you are wondering why is that, it's because Joomla! 1.6 is still alpha quality. I know it's marketed as stable, however it's anything but. It still has too many bugs and introduces major API changes even in subminor releases. This is not supposed to happen even in beta or release candidate quality software, let alone a stable release. I can't actively support an alpha quality CMS any more. It's hurting my business doing so, because I am forced to either release unstable and untested releases of my software to work around issues with Joomla! 1.6 or suffer a ton of support requests and emails telling me that my software "broke" your site. You know what? In both cases I get a ton of support requests anyway and that hurts my business in so many ways - one major way being that I get to answer support requests where I can't really provide any help instead of improving the software. On top of that, it also makes me look bad, despite the hundreds of hours I've spent trying to tame that beast.

So, there you have it. That's the plan for the rest of 2011. Now I'm going back to coding so that I can get Admin Tools back to its regular, intended, stable condition.

Best regards,

Nicholas K. Dionysopoulos
Lead Developer and owner, AkeebaBackup.com 

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