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Top 5 Reasons I’m Looking Forward to Magnolia 5

I’ve been working with Magnolia for a number of years now, and have seen it evolve from a great idea without much meat on its bones to a rich, flexible CMS that can be used for a huge variety of tasks. Even in its current mature state, however, there are areas that can still be even better. Here are some of the things that are planned for the next major revision which I’m most looking forward to:

  1. Touchscreen support: the iPad and its imitators have ushered in a surprisingly viable alternative to notebook computing. In my experience, I can do about 70% of what I would do on a laptop with an iPad. Web sites and apps generally work remarkably well, thanks to the clever WebKit engineers and site designers. Unfortunately, though one can create great sites that work brilliantly on mobile devices, differences in how things like double-clicks are handled have kept editing in Magnolia from working 100% when using touch-based browsers. This will be remedied in Magnolia 5. Our UX engineer has been giving a lot of thought to the different ways one can use Magnolia, and is planning full support for Mouse, Keyboard, and Touch interaction models. (The focus here will also bring much improved accessibility for editors using screen readers or other assistive technologies.)
  2. REST API: For all of its excellent functionality, Magnolia has been fairly walled in by the boundaries of Java. Introducing a fully-fledged REST API will allow other applications to benefit from Magnolia’s functionality without having to be written in the same language, making integrations across disparate systems, or even entirely new UIs, much more practical.
  3. Templating Improvements: The templating system is being reworked to support designating “areas” within a page, to make designing templates even more straightforward, to give Freemarker templates more functionality, and to remain as backward-compatible as possible. In addition, the default rendering engine will allow content to be requested as XML or JSON, further easing reuse of Magnolia content in other contexts.
  4. Undo: “Are you REALLY sure you want to do this?” confirmation dialogs are a pain. They get in your way when you really do want to do something, and you click blithely through them when you don’t. Magnolia 5 will do away with these confirmation dialogs, replacing them with an undo/redo queue. While this approach is still fairly uncommon for web applications (mostly for technical reasons), it provides a more fluid and safer feeling while using it, as there are fewer obstacles to experimentation, and it’s easier to recover if you don’t like the results.
  5. Improved Configuration Experience: Much of Magnolia’s configuration has to date been done by changing values in a giant JCR tree. While flexible, this approach does leave folks who are new to it (and even those of us who aren’t) overwhelmed at times. Magnolia 5 will be adding task-specific configuration panes that will pull together the options related to a specific bit of functionality, making it much easier to configure the system for particular tasks.

This all sounds pretty good, right? Well, there’s more that I haven’t yet mentioned: use of Vaadin for the editing UI, better visual organization in editing screens, a clipboard for copying and pasting across pages and sites, clearer security, richer dialogs, a generic JCR UI, JCR 2.0 support, improved performance, and more. If you’re interested in additional details, you can visit the Magnolia 5.0 section of Magnolia’s wiki, or sign up for the Magnolia Conference in September, where the new software will be shown publicly for the first time.

As someone who works with Magnolia full-time these days, I’m really looking forward to it.

Categories: magnolia-cms, magnolia5
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