Today we are really excited to announce one of the most anticipated extensions for Joomla: ZOO 2.0! Yes, we know some of you waited quite a while for this announcement. This is the start of a blog post series about the new ZOO 2.0. Today we want to give you some insight into the ZOO development and changes in the upcoming version.
Actually the new ZOO release was planned for summer 2009. We had some cool features implemented like “drag ’n drop” element positions to improve templating and the overall usability. The project codename was ZOO 1.1. But as always we had some new ideas and we did a brainstorming about how we could add essential improvements to the software architecture to make it more future proof. We didn’t like the old concept that everything is a so called "catalog". For example a blog isn’t necessarily a typical catalog and may have other features and workflows than a product catalog. And a business directory may have again different requirements. It was great that we already had a CCK which allows to build content items that meet exactly your requirements. The next big thing for us was to transform this idea and make it possible to build your own content applications which have their own parameters, workflows and features instead of having a super catalog, which has hundreds of parameters and options to cover everything. So we started the ZOO 1.5 development in late summer to move from a CCK to a Content Application Builder.
Introducing Content Applications
What does “Content Application Builder” mean? A content application (or in short: app) has its own application parameters. It has its own templates. Each template again has its own template parameters. Further a content app has its own types, items, categories, feeds, etc. It can even have its own elements. One of the great things is while you are working inside an app you are only seeing the content like items and categories of this particular app and it's not mixed up with other apps. This gives you a much better workflow when working with your content. We also wanted to make these apps exportable so that it is very easy to share apps among each other. So we implemented an installation manager which allows you to uninstall and install new apps. Also it was essential to us to make an app extendable. Finally apps became small extensions for ZOO with their own controller and views. You can do anything by extending your app!
ZOO 2.0 is around the corner
By designing and developing this new application architecture we reviewed the whole code base of ZOO 1.0. At the end nearly 100% of code is rewritten from scratch for the new version. The code is now slicker, more flexible and much improved. We put a lot of effort into developing ZOO 2.0 and it took almost twice the time than developing version 1.0. To reflect on the completely new architecture and all the new features we decided to make a major version jump to ZOO 2.0! Which other new features are included? We got our own brand new native comment and tag systems. Both are very slick with a great usability. We got a completely new template engine with element positions. You can now arrange your content via drag 'n drop. There is a new global parameter system for categories and items. All elements are completely rewritten and we added "repeat"-functionality and a lot of new features. And of course we also got a bunch of new elements. There is a lot more and we will talk about it in the next blog posts!
Goodbye ZOO LITE and PRO
How does the new app architecture affect the ZOO distributions? Another thing we didn’t like about the current ZOO 1.0 are the different ZOO editions: ZOO Pro and ZOO LITE. The update process isn’t that smooth if you want to move from LITE to PRO and we also have to deal with two different release packages. To cut a long story short with the new ZOO release there will only be one ZOO version. And now here it comes: it will be free for everyone distributed under the GPL license. It will include all the new features and a blogging app along with a template.
We care about our Members
You might ask: "ZOO 2.0 will be free and includes all new features? So why did I purchased ZOO PRO in the first placed?" Here is the answer. Currently we are developing a lot of new sophisticated apps for ZOO 2.0 to cover a wide range of uses. Like blogs, download archives, product catalogs and many more. Basically a versatile app bundle will replace the current ZOO PRO edition. We will also provide anybody who purchased the ZOO PRO edition access to the all new apps even if the membership is already expired. This means we will extend all active memberships and reactivate all expired memberships so that everybody has at least additionally two months of testing and working with ZOO 2.0 and all the apps. A couple of months ago we already extended the three months membership time to six months. So if you purchase the current ZOO 1.0 or the new apps for ZOO 2.0 you will have six months access to updates and our forum. We think this better reflects the time some projects take. One more thing: ZOO 2.0 will be a BETA release at first and only ZOO PRO members will have access to the BETA. Once ZOO 2.0 goes stable we will provide a public download for everybody.
The release date and the future
The release date for the ZOO 2.0 BETA is set for 23. March 2010. We got a new teaser site online with a countdown. Check it out! We will do a number of blog posts on the new app architecture and the new features in the coming days. After the BETA release it will not take that long for the public stable release. We are confident that the new architecture of ZOO 2.0 is future proof so that after the release we can focus on adding additional features. We are aiming for short release cycles for ZOO 2.1, 2.2 and so on. Also we will try to open the development process more by posting details about upcoming features.
If you enjoyed this reading get excited about ZOO 2.0! Because we are!