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Behind the scenes September 2021

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Joomla J! 3.x and 4.0 releases

A few new products

Changes to the downloads page

Preparations for launching a new business

As you will probably guess from the image I've used with this article, this article has been on my list of things to do for a long time!  Since I created my last behind-the-scenes article nearly three years ago, a lot has happened.  The Joomla development team has produced twenty-nine new versions for J! 3.x, including the long-awaited release of J! 3.10, as well as thirteen test versions for J! 4 and now the [even more long-awaited] release of J! 4.0 as a stable version.  Those developments have kept me very busy testing those releases and writing about them.

Enough said about what’s happened with Joomla!  The world has been shaken with a global pandemic that pales “achievements” in IT by comparison. I think we would all agree with that.  In the meantime, I haven’t been idle and I would like to take this opportunity to talk about some of the work that I’ve been doing behind-the-scenes.

A few new products

As I am always looking for better ways to create content on my websites and easier ways to manage the “backend” administration, I have written a few new plugins and modules to help take care of business.  These include:

As well as writing new extensions, I have also updated several other products I wrote and helped to fix a couple of defects with JComments, too.  These changes were necessitated because of changes in PHP;  PHP 7.2 (and later) causes problems with outdated and deprecated PHP 5 code.  Further, most extensions that people download from the Joomla Extensions Directory [JED] were written years ago—before PHP 7—and they just don’t work at all on today’s webhosting platforms.  With the advancements in programming languages come a few “surprises” for unsuspecting website owners … and I don’t think any of us likes nasty surprises.  It’s an ongoing challenge.

Some of the extensions that I’ve used on this website simply don’t work anymore.  When things don’t work you have to decide whether to rectify them, replace them or retire them:  the “three Rs” of website maintenance.

That's just the technical side of things.  The everyman’s guide to how often you should makeover your website is:

Typically, a good rule of thumb is that an average website has an approximate “shelf life” during which it is seen as new, functional and convenient for users.  For the typical brand, that timespan is between 18 and 30 months–or 1½ to 2½ years or so.Ryan Yaeger, How Often Should You Redesign Your Website?, 22-Jan-2019

If it looks old then it feels old and people like things new, vibrant and fresh.  This has meant that I’ve had to invent new ways of packaging the content on this website in order to remain relevant.  Besides, learning new ways of doing things can be fun.

Changes to the downloads page

The component that provides access to the products I’ve created has served me well for several years.  It’s not the easiest tool I’ve ever used but it packages things neatly and securely and provides a fairly simple mechanism for people to download those things.  However, as with all software, it reached it’s shelf-life about a year ago and it’s been nothing but trouble having to workaround its design flaws.  Ultimately the backend administration no longer works and I had to find an alternative.

I’ve been watching the JED for more than a decade—always on the lookout for reliable and secure  “downloaders” that are cost-effective, easy to manage and likely to withstand the test and rigours of time—for something that meets my needs.  There are lots of these productshttps://extensions.joomla.org/category/directory-a-documentation/downloads/ (e.g. jDownloads, Phoca Downloads, OS Downloads, JU Download, Joom Downloads, just to mention a few).  I don’t have an unlimited amount of time or financial budget to test-drive these products just to find one that does one simple job:  click a button to download something (as long as you are allowed to download that thing).

It's not a difficult requirement, is it?  The difficulties with it, however, are how the website owner manages all the other aspects of product distribution.  The website owner has to manage the inventory (which “shelves” contain which products), the marketing (what do the products do), providing instructions to potential customers, the e-commerce (how much to charge for one or more products) and then the distribution and delivery (the download itself).

Fortunately I already have a simple e-commerce model:  one payment, one time, buys everything … if people must have everything; or, for the same payment, you can download any number of the things you want.  The model I use neatly interfaces with PayPal which is one less hurdle to overcome.  But finally, it works for me.

It would be nice to gauge some measure of how many products people are downloading but that's not absolutely essential.  I suppose it would be nice if potential customers have an idea of which products are “popular” but, because my products are listed on the JED, that matter is [sort of] taken care of, too.  Finally I decided it was better for me to write my own “downloader” and completely re-design the inventory/distribution model.

Currently a work-in-progress, I expect to complete the new “downloads page” in the next week and update my listings on the JED to refer to it.

Preparations for launching a new business

All of the activities I’ve mentioned above are part of a larger strategy to take {kun´ēzē} to another level.  I mentioned a new module called mrwDownloads—this is a simple module that conditionally displays a download link—and you may be wondering what do the letter “mrw” stand for?  The letters form part of the name of a new business that I am preparing to launch.  It’s another item on my to-do list (along with house maintenance, living in a pandemic world, paying the bills and trying to stay on top of what’s happening with webcraft).  I don’t have a firm target.

What does this mean for {kun´ēzē}?  It means that the {kun´ēzē} website domain will eventually cease to exist sometime in the future but that my services will be provided via a new website domain.  The branding and packaging will change but the products and servies will remain.  It means that, in future, if someone finds a link to https://www.kuneze.com they will be automatically redirected to a new domain.  That, however, will be the subject of a new “behind the scenes” article.

About the author:

is a website hobbyist specialising in Joomla, a former member of the Kunena project for more than 8 years, and an active contributor on The Joomla Forum™. The opinions expressed in this article are entirely those of the author. View his profile here.

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