As we look ahead to 2018 and the release of Joomla 4.x in mid-year, I start to review the extensions that we will be 'winding down' use of or completely deprecating. Here are some initial thoughts on where we might be headed.
IMPORTANT: These are just thoughts and our actual deprecation of extensions might be different. We will announce specific deprecations in individual updates as we make the decision. We will try to give you at least 3 months notice before we stop supporting any extension or server IF POSSIBLE (if a serious security issue happens that can't be resolved we may need to drop an extension sooner).
Potentially Deprecated Extensions
We've used Fabrik for a number of years. It has allowed us to do some AMAZING things in quite a quick timeframe. However, we have recently been running into some issues related to Fabrik that is causing me to re-consider how we use this extension/tool.
Fabrik is fine for regular use on small, non-complex projects. It is also great for prototyping on larger, more-complex projects. However, our past use of Fabrik as an on-going solution on complex systems/sites has been causing excessive support time. We have also been growing concerned about the cost/value of maintaining Fabrik for these uses.
I am expecting that in 2018 we will be replacing any live sites that use Fabrik in any complex way OR declare those Fabrik set-ups as 'feature-locked'. That means that we won't make changes to the funcationlity of Fabrik on those sites, we will only update them with Fabrik updates and minor changes (like wording changes, etc.).
Part of the concern about Fabrik is the forthcoming Joomla 4.x release. This release significantly changes some core Joomla systems. It will take a considerable amount of time for Fabrik to modify it's codebase to work with that. Because Joomla will only provide security support for Joomla 3.x sites for a limited amount of time, a time in which I'm not completely sure Fabrik will be upgraded to work with Joomla 4, it seems prudent to begin planning to move away from Fabric to other solutions.
Another reason to move away from Fabrik is that the core of Joomla 4.0 will be providing some of the features for which we needed to rely on Fabrik. Actually, some of those features are already present in Joomla 3.8.x. In intial tests, we've been able to move some 'moderatly complex' sites over to core Joomla features and do away with Fabrik completely.
One more reason that we are making this move is that I have found that the time it takes to create and update complex fabrik systems (and the cost for Fabrik support) is more than developing custom, Joomla-native extensions to handle these tasks. Fabrik has gotten so complex recently that they have actually indicated that in certain circumstances they can't guarantee exactly how certain things will work. This means that if we need those features, we just have to hope that they work the way we want them to. This just isn't acceptable for sites and functionality that we rely upon day to day. On the other hand, some of the changes within Joomla, as well as development tool improvements, have made custom coding much less cost prohibitive, and the time/cost to maintain them is significantly less than Fabrik for almost all of the more complex systems we presently have running.
Ideally we would like to have all of the 'complex' Fabrik systems replaced with custom code by the time we are ready to migrate your site to Joomla 4.x (i.e. sometime in mid 2018). That's definitely an idealistic goal. We may need to delay that (or possibly delay your site's upgrade to Joomla 4) to fit our schedule and yours.
We'll keep you update on the progress as we begin 2018.
On many sites we have used Fox Contact for basic or even advanced contact us type forms (and even some more advanced functionality). Like Fabrik, there are reasons to move away from Fox Contact due to limitations in the way it works (esp. not able to easily interact with other extensions) and lack of reliable support.
We will likely keep very simple Contact Us forms on Fox Contact for the foreseeable future; however, for any more complex forms we will be looking for other alternatives in 2018.
We have stopped using Easy Profile on almost all sites. Although the system is 'easy' for very basic configurations (for which it really is no longer needed due to improvements in Joomla), and it has become very problematic to support for anything more than 'basic'. We are actively moving all 'profile' functionality to Community Builder and will stop supporting Easy Profle completely before Joomla 4.1 is released.
We are in the process of re-evaluating sites where Hikashop is installed. Although Hikashop is a very good solution for complex shops with many physical products, it is no longer cost-effective to use/maintain for any site that only sells virtual products or only a few physical products (with simple shipping options) that are only selling within the US.
Although we will still be supporting Hikashop, we may be encouraging you to consider migrating to something that costs less to maintain and modify. However, you will still have the option to remain with Hikashop if you choose.
We've been 'OK' with CloudMail after migrating to it about 2 years ago; however, it isn't keeping up with most professional users needs. Because of this we are looking into alternatives. This might include our ability to offer full Office 365 services using native Microsoft Exchange services (not an Exchange 'wrapper' as part of CloudMail as we have considered in the past). This would give you all the native functionality of the Office 365 suite (all the Microsoft Applications) as well as all of the Exchange collaboration services (including calendaring).
Because this would come at what might be a significantly greater cost than CloudMail we will NOT be making this a required change but an optional feature.
We expect to have details of cost and availablity in the 1st quarter of 2018.
With all the potential deprecated extensions we are looking at some great new features for 2018. They include improved data reporting, ability to send SMS text messages (based on web site actions or for bulk marketing), and new design abilities that make mobile-first easy for every site.
If you have specific questions about any of these deprecated extensions, or you want to learn more about some of the new functionality that we're considering rolling out, just drop me an email.