Background graphics of birthday themed elements with Joomla logo

Turning 16 is a huge milestone. For many, it means a driver's license – and the first taste of freedom.

For Joomla!, the popular open source CMS, turning 16 is more like a license to brag.

And why not? In just over a decade and a half, their free content management system has been downloaded a staggering 123 million times and translated into 77 languages. At last count, they're powering over 2.5 million websites, making it the third most popular CMS on the planet.

Pretty sweet stats.

And speaking of sweet... if your invitation to their "Sweet 16" shindig got lost in the mail, there's some digital merrymaking planned by the Australia chapter of the Joomla! Community on August 17th (the actual birthday). We're told that both the London and Chicago user groups will make an appearance, but they're still waiting on Lizzo to RSVP.

Now, it wouldn't be a celebration without some presents, and the Joomla! Project is unwrapping some big ones with the stable release of Joomla! 4.0 and Joomla! 3.10 (the latter bridging the transition between the two major series). Just a month ago, Joomla announced the availability of the first Joomla! CMS 4.0 Release Candidate 3 and Joomla 3.10 Alpha 8 – so fully launching both versions in a matter of weeks is an exciting way to mark the milestone.

Joomla! 4.0: a story nine years in the making

It's fair to say that a Joomla! 4.0 had become a victim of "someday" mythology. A decade is a lifetime in technology, and it seemed stuck in the skunkworks. On the announcement page of their website, they describe the venture as "nine long years in the making," which sounds... well, long

To give you some context: a decade ago, Acquia was just a rambunctious toddler, and Gatsby wasn't even a twinkle in the headless sky. Of course, being a completely volunteer-built platform means timetables are often a little more fluid. 

Regardless of the delays, the hard work has finally paid off. And now that Joomla! powers one in every 50 websites, this new version could provide a real boost to their position in the free and open source field of CMS players. 

Here are a few highlights we can expect to see in the planned release:

Enhanced Accessibility: Joomla! has improved its overall accessibility posture by aligning with W3C Guidelines (WCAG 2.1) and striving for AA compliance. They've elevated everything from the layout, contrast, and infrastructure capabilities by building a stronger foundation around accessibility standards.

Improved UX: A redesigned administration dashboard will help to speed up content creation, while an improved media manager will help streamline editor updates. There are also new article templates that will help maintain page structure and design standards.

Customizable Emails: Now, users can deliver customized messages that welcome and inform audiences. With Joomla's new email templating system, it's quick and easy to create emails that improve communication and enhance the customer experience. 

Elevated Search: We all know that search is a boost to any website, allowing visitors to hone in on areas of interest and increase engagement. Joomla! 4 brings smart search features that dramatically improve its previous capabilities.

Built-in SEO: Get to the top of any search engine faster with Joomla 4.0's built-in SEO foundation. The new platform "bakes" search standards into the architecture of each page without any additional extensions – providing stronger SEO performance out of the box. 

Tighter Security: Security is top of mind for every website and CMS. That's why the Joomla! Project made security a key part of their focus for Joomla! 4.0, which features an array of architectural enhancements designed to maximize security and keep hackers out.

Higher Speeds: With eCommerce and transactional websites becoming prolific during the Covid-19 pandemic, speed has become absolutely essential to improving conversions. Joomla! 4.0 has made a point to improve performance and accelerate load times by enhancing the backend and overall structure of the platform. 

Refined Workflow Capabilities: Workflows help run websites – and businesses – more efficiently. Joomla! 4.0 brings a combined bench of enhanced workflow services that enable marketing and content managers to customize their requirements and streamline their efforts. 

How to transition to Joomla! 4.0

As noted, Joomla! is releasing versions 4.0 and 3.10 simultaneously, with the goal of easing the upgrade. 

The process is relatively simple. Start by upgrading to 3.10, and the pre-update checker will allow you to confirm compatibility with Joomla! 4.0's minimum requirements (including the current hosting environment and, more importantly, any installed extensions). Follow the prompts and the migration should be relatively smooth.

If you do run into challenges or issues, don't forget that you have one of the largest user groups to turn to on the Joomla! Community Portal. 

Ready to celebrate? Download the latest version of Joomla at

From all of us at CMS Critic, we wish the entire community of contributors a very happy birthday – and hopefully, we're not waiting as long for the next update from Joomla!

(We mean that with the exclamation point, BTW...)

About Joomla! 

Joomla! is an award-winning, open source content management system (CMS) that enables users to build powerful websites and online applications. Built and supported by a global community of volunteers, Joomla! contains easy-to-use features and it is freely available to everyone. Founded in 2005, Joomla! has become the third most popular CMS, powering over 2.5 million websites.