We are very happy and proud today to introduce our new releases to partners and customers: eZ Platform 1.13, our new long term supported (LTS) version of eZ Platform, as well as eZ Platform 2.0, our first fast track release of version 2. They are both available as of today and you can get them either as regular software, or experience them on the cloud thanks to eZ Platform Cloud.

eZ Platform 1.13 comes with many interesting improvements, including some great new features such as the brand new link manager. You can learn more about it on the release notes. I’ll focus here more on eZ Platform 2.0.0, which is a breakthrough in eZ Platform development, opening the version 2 release cycle to a bright future.

eZ Platform v2 is mostly about the content management user interface (also called admin, back-office, CMS, admin-UI, platform-UI). If you want a feel for v2’s user interface, take a look at the video below. If you want an exhaustive list of the features, improvements and bugs, you can refer to the 1.13 and 2.0 release notes. But let me summarize, beyond the interface and beyond just describing the features, what version 2 will provide.

Getting the Developer Experience Right

eZ Platform, like all CMSes, is an editorial tool, but it is more than that. eZ Platform, more than (m)any CMSes, is a development platform—call it a DX platform if you want to ride the wave of  the martech buzzword. It’s a software foundation for developers to build solutions of their own—for their customers and users. We recognize this as a key feature and it’s one of our highest priority. With version 2, we decided to fix some obvious flaws of version 1 (that I spoke about previously here). So with version 2, developers will get a lot of benefits that you would not necessarily notice if just looking at the application screens:

Using the bests, for what they are best at

First, the new architecture and technology choices we’ve made for version 2 placed a lot of importance in picking the right technology components and using them for what they are best at, while making it simple. Version 2 is fully and only built on Symfony 3.4 LTS, the best Web development framework today. It’s using some Javascript components where the application needs to be rich and interactive beyond the page model, and for that we used React.js, the best choice for building highly interactive front-end today and tomorrow. We also decided to use Bootstrap 4 as a framework for all U.I. front-end code. The overall architecture has been simplified in that philosophy. So-long Single Page Application architecture, so-long YUI library, so-long REST-only communication with the back-end.

Extending and customizing eZ Platform: now simpler than ever

A direct consequence is that the work for developers who want to extend or customize eZ Platform is now drastically simpler, as we avoid the learning curve of a complex architecture and the use of not so common programming languages and libraries. All things that can be extended in version 2  requires now only low or reasonable efforts: creating new field types, adding tabs and custom user interfaces to the interface and customizing the editor, among others. We prepared some documentation for developers willing to extend version 2, available on the new guide to extend eZ Platform2, a page that we’ll keep improving and enriching in the future.

Symfony developers finally feeling at home

With eZ Publish Platform 5, we decided to change and we integrated the Symfony framework to our technology but we still had a lot of proprietary technology.

With eZ Platform version 1, we completely removed our legacy web framework. However, version 1 administration interface was not built with Symfony, but with an SPA model on a very custom application architecture. Bill Gates once said “It’s fine to celebrate success, it’s more important to heed the lessons of failure” and I think we can say we followed his advice. We learned a lot with version 1. Version 2 is a version of eZ Platform—the Symfony CMS as some say—that can finally be used by Symfony developers without asking much of them, besides just knowing Symfony! If you are a Symfony developer, you’ll feel at home with version 2.

Unequaled performance and speed

The new eZ Platform version 2 user interface is really blazing fast. Not only does it allow developers to quickly deliver applications and websites, it also builds faster apps and websites! This comes as the result of a very simple architecture (vs  one with too many layers), but also from the significant progress we’ve seen on our technology stack. A direct impact of Symfony, Mysql, PHP and many other technologies we use in version 2 that keep pushing the bar. PHP is showing again and again that it is the platform of choice for building web applications, despite arrival of new contenders on the market. Thanks to the Symfony, PHP, Mysql and related communities.

user feedback on beta...

And a rock solid foundation

The simple architecture and the solid technology we chose for version 2 makes everything more solid. And when there is a bug, we can solve it faster, and in better ways. As a result, version 2 is solid.

Of course there will be bugs, and of course this version 2.0.0 is only the first stable of the line. So don’t expect it to be that old unbreakable piece of software you might dream of. But it’s already clear that version 2 will deliver in that regard. It’s rock solid!

Boosting developer productivity

Finally, and probably as a result of all the points mentioned above, version 2 will boost developers productivity and this is an invaluable business benefit, very often overlooked by organizations choosing CMSes. In a digital world, boosting development productivity is the goal. It’s not only what will make the developer experience better, it’s also what will make your business win or lose.

Yes, to appeal to developers, things needs to look good and to feel good. But at the end of the day, when you get to make developers fast and efficient, then you really make their experience better.

Streamlining the Editorial User Experience and Preparing for Bigger Improvements

Improving and fixing developer experience was the primary goal of this release. Because of this, we were mostly looking to provide a similar feature set as offered by version 1, hence not bringing any new game-changing features for editors. Still, version 2 comes as a big leap for the editorial experience. Here’s why:

Embracing the new eZ U.I. guidelines

The new design of the Edit Interface

We’ve been working on an internal project for the last two years that aimed to define user interface design guidelines for our own developers, as well as for the ones willing to customize and extend eZ. This version is the first where these design guidelines have really been used. It’s the beginning of a new way to design and build interface at eZ. Editors can already see the benefits: consistency across the screens and interfaces in order to build usage patterns that will facilitate their life and build-up familiarity with the tool, adoption of best-practices for usability, simplification of the interfaces with less clicks to fulfill editorial tasks...

Version 2.0 is just the beginning and this will be a good base to build upon new editorial innovations along all future version releases.

And because speed also means editorial experience

Just like for developers, a huge driver of satisfaction for editors will actually be the speed. Version 2 is blazing fast, and this will make editors both more productive and happier! See how the interface reacts to your mouse—presto!

The new React.js based Discovery Widget

Transitioning from eZ Publish, Going Beyond Feature Parity

Our old fellow eZ Publish power users, that we love, often speak about feature parity when comparing eZ Publish to eZ Platform. The truth is that we don’t necessarily see it that way, we don’t think all things in eZ Platform should be done like they were in eZ Publish. And when we say so, we’re not speaking from our guts, but speaking on behalf of non-eZ Publish fanboys. Not everything was great in eZ Publish, and when talking to new users, there are many things we want to change.

However, we recognize the need for our long time users and partners to feel there is a way to achieve the same goals with the new platform, and a way to upgrade to it. Our mission is to prove to them that we can do better than eZ Publish, not lesser!

So with version 2, we think we made good progress in that direction. Not only because of the new software architecture and user interface mentioned above, but also because there are also a number of good features that made it to 2.0:

  • The new Link manager, based on a similar concept of the one from eZ Publish, lets you manage all links managed within your content in the repository and quickly identify and fix the eventual broken links that may arise. (Good news: this new feature is also in eZ Platform 1.13 LTS)
  • The new Object Relations field type, that will allow us to merge Object Relation and Object Relations into one single type with more control over it.
  • The native Fastly support as part of the http-cache bundle (only available for eZ Platform Enterprise Edition).
  • The new view of Object States in the detail content tab (more to come about Object States Management soon, thanks to Douglas Hammond from our community, @wizhippo as the administration part of it will definitely make it to 2.1).

The new link manager

These new capabilities combined with the official support of the eZ Platform legacy bridge make us confident that we can offer a safe path for all eZ Publish users to move to eZ Platform version 2 at the right pace for them.

Not sure if and when we’ll reach “feature parity”, but we’re sure version 2 will make us think beyond parity to let customers and users achieve more and in a simpler way.

What’s Next

The best news for us looking forward is that we are faster. Productivity has increased and we can move faster in delivering new features to our customers, so we look forward to 2018. For next year, here are the immediate new priorities for our product team:

  • Redeveloping the Studio landing page manager shipped with eZ Platform Enterprise edition on the new version 2 U.I. stack
  • Providing a comprehensive Custom Tags feature for developers willing to extend the Online Editor
  • Bringing improvements to the landing page editor, as we move it to the new architecture with things such as new Rich Text blocks and the ability to better use different layouts
  • Adding several smaller editorial features, such as bulk moving and deleting of content, focus mode in the online editor, more granular use of permissions, better content navigation with a new tree-browser, and creation of url alias
  • Developing the new advanced editorial collaboration and workflow system

In addition, due to the improvements mentioned in this blog post, it’s now simpler than ever to contribute to eZ Platform, as we already  saw this from the release of the beta version. We hope to continue to receive a lot more contributions from our community. As always, developers should feel free to reach out to us at productmanagement@ez.no, or to open a discussion on https://discuss.ezplatform.com or to go straight to GitHub and submit a pull request!

I’d like to finally congratulate and thanks all who were involved in this new release of our product, the whole eZ product and engineering team of course, but also all others who contributed to the releases: @wizhippo, @plopix, @mugo, @emodric and others.

eZ Platform version 2.0 and 1.13 LTS are both available as of today on our usual channels:

  • Developers can download the Open Source edition of eZ Platform on https://ezplatform.com or directly using composers
  • Customers of eZ Enterprise or eZ Platform Cloud can get the new versions through their support portal
  • Partners can get a trial version of the Enterprise Edition on the partner portal

Please reach out to our team for any additional information. We’ll be very happy to help.

Wishing you all happy holidays and looking forward to hearing about your version 2 experiences!

Roland 

p.s: some quick videos:

A sneak peek at the interface:

Emmanuel Drouillet building new bundle for version 2:

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