April, 2014: Joomla 3.3.0 has been released. At first glance, this release is not radically different on the administrative end from 3.2. When 3.2 was introduced, the default Protostar template switched from old HTML tags to HTML5 tags, which is a fairly major change. 3.2 also changed the look and functionality of the Administrative end. A lot of things were moved around on the Administrative interface.

Per the documentation at http://www.joomla.org/announcements/release-news/5546-joomla-3-3-0-released.html there are "new" features intoduced into the CMS.

Improved Password Hashing

What is Password Hashing? It is a method for securing passwords.

"Without hashing, any passwords that are stored in your application's database can be stolen if the database is compromised, and then immediately used to compromise not only your application, but also the accounts of your users on other services, if they do not use unique passwords."

Here is a link to an article at www.php.net: Safe Password Hashing

Addition of Microdata Features

Microdata is something that has been introduced with HTML5. It allows machine readable data to be embedded into HTML documents. Certain search engines read this data to find out more about the content of your webpage. Other programs can also read this data and use it to fill in forms, etc. This is used in things like events, recipes, product reviews, etc. 

Here is a link to Google's Webmaster Tools regarding the use of Microdata: About Microdata

There are five new attributes for the HTML5 on the webpage:

  • itemprop: 
  • itemscope
  • itemref
  • itemtype
  • itemid

How does Joomla 3.3 allow you to use this Microdata? Per the forums, it is somehow written into the core files. The concept is still in development and will be improved upon with future releases. You always have been able to hand-insert Microdata information into your HTML.

If you use JCE Editor (which GREATLY improves text editing in Joomla), there is a Microdata add-on that supplies an interface that allows you to add Microdata to the highlighted element. You must have a paid JCE Editor subscription for this feature.

Continued Conversion of MooTools based JavaScript to jQuery

MooTools is a compact, modular, Object-Oriented JavaScript framework for use by web developers. It is a way to use JavaScript/jQuery in a certain fashion. Joomla 3.3 uses more of these tools.

Bug-fixes

Per the Joomla.org website, Joomla 3.3 address over 115 bugs that were present in previous releases.

Here is a link to Joomla 3.3 Release Notes: http://developer.joomla.org/version-3-3-0-release-notes.html

Should you bother with the upgrade?

If you do a great deal of customization to your website, upgrades can be a headache. Even if you create overrides, create custom templates, and take all the steps that you should to make upgrades go more smoothly, it can still introduce problems with your site. You may also need to upgrade any of the 3rd Party Extensions that you have used on your site. 

Take a calculated risk when upgrading. It is best to copy your site into a development environment and apply the upgrades there so that the live site is not affected. Once you have ironed out all the bugs, then you can move the development site to the live URL. If you had specific issues with previous releases, and the new release addresses these issues, it may be worth it. New release can also patch up known security problems with earlier releases.

Advise your clients not to click on the Upgrade button without consulting with you as the developer first.