Elgg 1.8.0 released

After over a year of development and more than 800 tickets closed, we're pleased to announce the availability of Elgg 1.8.0! In addition to fixing bugs, in Elgg 1.8.0 we focused on improving the end-user experience and making it easier for Elgg developers to build Elgg sites.

Some of the end-user features include:

  • An easier, more robust installation. The installation is now simpler and provides more guidance throughout the installation process. It also checks for common server misconfigurations and other problems new users often encounter, offering suggestions on how to correct them.
  • A new, more consistent default theme. The new theme is easier to use, standards compliant, and easier to customize. UI element patterns have been consolidated to ensure that the UI is consistent across the site and plugins.
  • A redesigned administration section. The administration section has been redesigned from the ground up with usability in mind. Further, the admin theme has been separated from the site default theme, so problematic plugins should no longer break the admin area.
  • Sticky forms and renewing security tokens. No longer will forms lose data because of expired security tokens. Also, if there's a problem while saving, the form's content will not be lost and will be displayed for the user to try saving again if the developer uses sticky forms.

In addition to the user-facing changes, Elgg 1.8.0 also includes many features for developers, including:

  • Standards compliant markup and improved CSS. The default theme includes simplified markup and CSS that make theming a breeze. We've adopted an OOCSS approach to theming that provides simple flexibility compared to previous versions of Elgg. PHP helper functions allow developers to easily build consistent Elgg pages.
  • A new menu system. 1.8.0 includes a new menu system that addresses multiple problems and limitations in previous versions of Elgg.
  • A new JavaScript engine. A dedicated JS engine means you can easily add ajax and advanced features to your Elgg site. The JS engine mimics parts of the PHP engine, so it should feel comfortable for those familiar with Elgg.
  • A new plugin system. The new plugins system allows plugin authors to provide additional information in plugins like priority and dependency requirements to prevent common problems many users experience when installing plugins.
  • Standardized API. With 1.8.0 we have standardized the API that we introduced in 1.7.0. Most functions now accept an options array instead of numerous arguments. No more counting 15 arguments for a single function call!
  • More robust river, metadata, and annotation API. The getter functions for these system have been brought up to the 1.7 API standards and include many fixes and additional options.
  • Better documentation and consistent coding style. The core and bundled plugins are now well documented and follow the same coding style. This makes development in core easier, and allows new developers to look to the bundled plugins as examples of well-written Elgg plugins.

There are many additional improvements, bug fixes, and new features in Elgg 1.8.0, but it's impossible to list them all. Because of the many changes, the upgrade from 1.7 to 1.8.0 requires additional steps. Be sure to read the UPGRADE.txt file. Please be aware that many plugins have not yet been updated to work with Elgg 1.8.0, so if you rely on 3rd party plugins, check for the availability of Elgg 1.8.0 versions.

Because of the delay of the availbility of third party plugins for Elgg 1.8, the Elgg 1.7 branch will continue to be updated for the next few months while plugin authors migrate to Elgg 1.8.0. No new features will be added to Elgg 1.7, but bugs and security issues will be fixed.

We encourage everyone to install Elgg 1.8.0 to experience the improvements mentioned in this post. As always, before you upgrade be sure to make a full backup. If you're ready to take the plunge, grab the latest download, read the installation instructions, and give it a go! Be sure to report any bugs to Trac, and we'd love to hear your feedback at the Community Site.

Edit: Elgg was released immediately after 1.8.0 to correct an overlooked bug in the installation system. There are no changes between 1.8.0 and except that.

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