Written by Roland Benedetti, Chief of Product & Marketing at eZ Systems

As you might know, our upcoming release, eZ Publish 5.4, will be the last of the current 5.x generation. In the latest release, which will be supported until late 2019, we wanted the transition from eZ Publish 5.3 and below to 5.4 to be as smooth as possible. But we also had an eye on the future. With 5.4, we’ve carved out a clear path to upgrade beyond 5.4, to our next generation, which will definitely be a release you should consider to upgrade to, whatever your plans are.

Beyond 5.4

There are two big things regarding the next generation platform that will distinguish it from any other eZ Publish version. First, it will no longer rely on the legacy kernel. The new generation will solely be based on the new kernel, new APIs and the Symfony framework introduced in eZ Publish Platform 5.x. Second, we will be introducing a brand new user interface, and we are determined to provide a significantly improved user experience to anyone working with content. This is one of the main drivers of this next generation.

Focusing on User Experience

While rethinking the user experience, there is one design element that we have been constantly facing. One of the strengths of previous versions of eZ Publish is its architecture. Its generic nature allows for clean customization and extensions. Users, content, products, digital assets, content classes and forms are managed in a similar fashion using a coherent model and similar user interface patterns.

But this strength can also be a limiting factor that forces users to do things in a generic way. For certain use cases, it makes it difficult to deliver an optimized user experience. It’s one of the reasons why the administration interface today is not as simple and usable for editors as we wish.

For example, if you want to create a dead simple and very optimized user interface to create and manage image galleries, you will probably have to build something that is designed on the specificities of the image content type. You’ll need to easily extract meta data, provide pleasant image previews, use ALT tags, define variations and more. There is a small chance you can build an interface that would work well to create a collection of other types of documents.

This is the catch 22 that we have to deal with. We care for this genericity, and want to keep it in the product. Developers love it and it is powerful, but at the same time we can’t build an optimized editorial interface with it.

We naturally came to the conclusion that we had to build two user interfaces. One interface for generic use leveraging the full power of the eZ content repository, similar to the current eZ Publish administration interface yet better. And another interface focusing on the needs of editors, built atop the first one, but introducing more specialized features for specific use cases, making it simpler and easier for editors to work with.

Introducing eZ Platform and eZ Studio

We quickly came to the understanding that we not only had to build two user interfaces, but two different products, with different target users, different value propositions and different models. As discussed here and here, we’ve fine tuned and adapted our model accordingly.

On one hand, we are developing a platform for developers and designers to build remarkable experiences. And on the other, a studio built on top of this platform, for content creators to create, manage and deliver relevant content.

This is the next generation of eZ Publish. Two powerful products, with two different names: eZ Platform and eZ Studio.

eZ Platform will be fully open source, and will be developed together with the eZ Publish community -- fully supported and commercially maintained by eZ Systems. Unlike the previous versions, where eZ Publish Enterprise and eZ Publish Community were two distinct software codebases -- even if very close one another -- there will only be one eZ Platform. It will be developed and maintained openly on Github public repositories and distributed under the GPL license.

This will make it easier for those who want to first use the software without any support and maintenance, and then decide to receive commercial support. No migration to a different distribution will be required in this case. Because eZ Platform is aimed at developers and designers, it is natural to go for this fully open source approach.

eZ Studio will be a commercial product distributed under the eZ Business User License (BUL). It will not be developed openly and can only be used if purchased from eZ Systems. eZ Studio will be a product with added value for business users and is really targeted for them. 

Defining eZ Studio and eZ Platform

The big question will be the feature scope of eZ Platform and eZ Studio. We won’t give a full answer here as it would be too long, but in short, it can be described as follows:

eZ Platform will be the technical platform and will serve as the foundation. It will provide all the APIs and technical components needed for a developer to build a project, as well as the content repository itself. eZ Platform will produce the generic content management interface, similar to the old administration interface. It will enable users to browse the content repository and create, edit and delete content of any type. It will also feature all of the administrative elements of the user interface, such as the management of users, content model, roles and permissions. Early versions of the new eZ Platform interface are already available, as shared on this blog.

eZ Studio will consist of more features and tools, which break away from the genericity of eZ Platform. Features like landing page management, campaign management, collaboration tools and more will be available for eZ Studio users.

Continue to stay tuned as we will post our roadmap toward the first versions of eZ Platform and eZ Studio, which we now target for mid-2015.

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