Written by Roland Benedetti, VP Product Management, eZ Systems

Being so deep into winter now, most of us can't help looking forward to spring. Spring means sun and perfect temperatures, it means back to fresh food, it means no more pile of melting snow on the street outside the office... Spring also means an eZ Publish release! Let's tell you about that one, to give you one more reason to look forward to springtime.

So, this spring it will be the Ventoux release - eZ Publish Platform 5.3 - and here, in a nutshell, is what you can expect from it.

First, let's be more precise than ‘spring’: The 5.3 release is due in the last two weeks of May (stay tuned for the final date; we'll know very soon as we fine-tune our development and QA sprints). As introduced last year, 5.3 will be what we call a LTS release. LTS stands for Long Term Support. This means it will be supported until at least May 2017 (unlike, for instance, 5.2, which was a STS and only supported for the running year).

The primary goal of 5.3 is to help give users and developers a better grasp of the value of eZ Publish 5.x. We at eZ have often been good at developing very powerful features that are not known, not visible and sometime hard to find and understand for new users. With 5.0 and the following releases, we have been so focused on the architecture and the insides that we must admit we didn’t always make it easy or simple. We heard your feedback loud and clear, and decided to fix that issue.. One of the focuses for 5.3 (and 5.4) is to make it easier to understand and leverage the new architecture introduced with version 5, the ‘new stack’ relying heavily on the Symfony2 framework, and also the power of the dual kernel that we have with the 5 series.

The ‘business’ value of 5.3 will therefore be a combination of faster time-to-market (more user-friendly for development), better developer experience (many things are made easier and rely primarily on the new kernel and the Symfony framework), but also more affordability (especially considering learning and maintenance costs) and reliability. Of course, end-user experience will also be improved, as this is a continuous effort.

Beyond the value, if we look at the features we are working on, this translate into various requirements to achieve the above goal.

Places, Premium content, and many small other things

First, we are improving the demo site that ships with the eZ Publish Platform (also known as the Demo Bundle). This demo site can be use as a starting point; more importantly it is a collection of best practices that shows how to build and implement solutions on top of eZ Publish 5 and Symfony/twig in the front-end. So we want it to be more relevant, providing good examples of what can be done easily. For 5.3, this will translate into certain end-user features in the demo site such as ‘Places’, a more complete ready-to-use integration of the MapLocation field type to provide things such as a geolocalized search for places, better view online fo places, user-generated content to suggest places... all it takes to build your own Yelp (and based on the New Stack and Symfony).

Similarly, we are working on other features in the demo bundle such as management and delivery of Premium content, and better leverage of eZ Publish’s powerful roles and permission system. This was already ‘doable’ but needed developing; we simply want to make it easier and simpler for newbies with a ready-to-use front-end for it, which can be used, modified and customised.

A stronger core platform with less dependency on the legacy kernel

Second, but ultimately very related, is that we are continuing to remove strong dependencies on the legacy system and the old kernel (if you are lost when I use terms such as ‘dual kernel’, legacy system or new stack, you might want to read the eZ Publish 5 architecture document to better understand what this is all about. In short, it’s about backward and forward compatibility and the fact that eZ Publish 5 allows and partly relies on our old system, in order to make it possible for existing users to upgrade smoothly without breaking all previous developments and content). In this area, things such as authentication and user login, preview, and many other services will be totally migrated to the new kernel and new API, making it less important to rely on legacy, which in turn makes it far easier for developers just discovering eZ who don't want to learn our old system. In the same move, the Public and Rest API will be improved, with better coverage of all eZ Publish field types and improved functionality to make the API easier to develop with. Bridges and integration between new kernel and legacy will also be improved, making it easier to use both for end-users and developers.

Finally, there will be many other improvements. This covers a range of minor enhancements and bug fixes, but also several additions to the documentation - an area where we definitely want to speed things up as well, and for which we are deploying additional resources as we write this. Stay tuned - we'll be back soon with draft release notes, as well as alpha and beta releases.

There is much more coming after 5.3

The next release following 5.3 will be 5.4. It will come in November 2014 and will have a very similar drive to 5.3. One thing is important though: as you may know, it will also be followed very closely by the next generation of our platform, which will be based entirely on the new kernel. From that point on, we will no longer have any dependency on the old kernel and the upgrade path will be as smooth as possible. This is definitely a concern for us and we know it has been a strength of eZ Publish, compared with other solutions which ask their users every other year to toss all their work and start again, or go through a 'mission impossible' migration. This also is pure business value.

Please stay tuned; we’ll post more information soon about this new generation of our product, as we have lots of interesting things under way here.

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