Getting extensions ready for Joomla 4 – Tassos Marinos

If you’ve ever migrated your website from one major version to another, for instance from 1.5 to 2.5 or from 2.5 to 3, you may have experienced difficulties with extensions not being fully compatible. So with Joomla 4 on the way, you might want to know if your extensions will be ready on time. That is why your Joomla Community Magazine asks the developers! This month, we interviewed Tassos Marinos who guaranteed us his extensions are 100% compatible already.

Thanks for joining us in the “Getting Extensions ready”-series, Tassos! Could you tell us a little about your extensions?

My journey in the Joomla world started in 2014 when I created my first Joomla extension. Since then I have been developing Joomla software for a living on Tassos.gr.

I am the guy behind EngageBox, the de facto pop-up builder solution for Joomla. It can help you build pop-ups that get triggered during page load, while the user scrolls, or even when the visitor is about to leave your website. At the time of writing these lines, EngageBox is the 12th most popular extension in the Joomla market.

I have also created a form builder because I always felt that the Joomla form industry was stuck in the land of mediocrity. What I was missing from a form builder, was a user-friendly and modern visual editor that makes it easy to create a form in a matter of minutes and that did not require any technical expertise. That was the main reason why I decided to build Convert Forms.

A few years ago a buddy on Twitter asked me if I was interested in building a Joomla extension that can generate JSON-LD structured data on Joomla content. Back then, I did not have a clue about what structured data or schema was. Now, I know how it can positively impact a site’s overall CTR and SEO. That’s how Google Structured Data was born.

In early 2017 I created JoomlaBeginner.com, a resource website for beginners where you can find basic tutorials like “How do I install Joomla?”, “How do I change my account’s password?” and many more.

What will happen with your extensions when J4 is released? Will they be compatible?

Sure thing! Over the last year, I have been working on making my extensions compatible with Joomla 4 and fully aligned with the new guidelines and requirements. Right now, all my software is 100% compatible with Joomla 4.0 using the same installation package for both J3 and J4. A so-called cross-compatible version.

What should users do with their extensions when they migrate to J4? What should they expect from their extension providers in general? And what can they expect from you?

When it comes to big releases, there’s an understandable fear that the update may break our site. The most important thing we need to do before upgrading Joomla is to create a complete backup. Next, we need to check whether the installed extensions we have on our site are compatible with the new release.

My recommendation is to get in touch with your extension providers and ask them about their plans for Joomla 4. If they are going to support Joomla 4, ask for them to provide you with a version of their extension compatible with Joomla 4 so you can start the testing and prepare for the upgrade process.

Additionally, Joomla 3.10 is going to act as a migration helper from Joomla 3 to Joomla 4. It will introduce a new component called Pre-Update Check that will help us check the installed extensions for compatibility with Joomla 4.

Regarding my software, all my extensions will be compatible with Joomla 4 while retaining compatibility with Joomla 3. Users using my software can expect support and assistance for any issues they may encounter during the upgrade process.

As a developer, would you say it is important to start preparing extensions as soon as possible?

The short answer is Yes! I started preparing my software for Joomla 4 compatibility in May 2020 with beta 2. To be honest, I was a bit late, but eventually, I managed to comply with the new version in time.

Making my apps Joomla-4-ready is an ongoing task. To stay up-to-date with codebase changes, extension developers need to keep an eye on the discussions on Joomla’s official Github account almost daily.

What impact do the different types of Joomla versions (alpha, beta, RC) have on the update of extensions?

In my opinion, beta is one of the most important and critical phases of the software development lifecycle as it freezes new features and the architecture stops changing. This can be considered as a signal for developers to start working on updating their extensions as soon as possible.

How do you expect the launch of J4 to impact your business?

There’s no doubt, Joomla 4 brings amazing new features, improvements, and a brand new way to create and manage our content. Although in the short term it will add a significant overload to my schedule due to compatibility issues that may occur, in the long term I firmly believe it will have a positive impact on my business. I am really excited and looking forward to the final and stable release.

Is there anything else you would like to advise our readers regarding extensions and Joomla 4?

Joomla CMS is now more powerful than ever, allowing you to keep 3rd party extensions to the minimum. If something can be done with core features stick to the core. If you have to install an extension make sure you choose long-established extension providers that regularly update their software with bug fixes and improvements.

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