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Extension Repository V2

As the first stable release of Contao is scheduled for Independance Day, its time to give some insight on the second version of the Extension Repository that will be included in Contao 2.9.

Changes for authors, translators and reviewers

Server Cache

The repository server was improved with an application level cache to be prepared for the further growth of the number of extensions, releases and user servers accessing the central repository. You will notice this by the fact that calling the extension catalog from your backend and showing the extension list on contao.org usually is very fast now compared to before. Occasionally you might see that it takes as long as before, because there was no cache hit and the whole database needed to be searched. Subsequent queries, like paging through the result set, will however be delivered fast from cache.

Besides this transparent effect there is an important change for authors and translators. Your changes and translation check-ins will no longer be available immediately to all clients, but may need a waiting time of up to 5 minutes until the cache gets rebuilt. So the ER is not broken and you have not done anything wrong if your most recent changes are not immediately seen on the client side - it's just an opportunity to readjust your caffeine level. Less important changes such as statistic counter even have a waiting period of up to one hour.

Extension Management

The most obvious change is certainly that you can now see the latest release of each extension in the first view. Also there is now a checkbox for each extension to select a number of extensions, and then set compatibility from or to for the latest release of those extensions in one go. Authors with many extensions will benefit from the fact that the sorting the list is now possible by several conditions.

Other Things

All text area inputs have now been equipped with the TinyMCE WYSIWYG editor, not just in the extension manager, but also in the review edits. The translation manager now has filtering options, giving a better overview to authors and translators with many extensions.

Extension List

The extension list now has a full-text search to find words in title, description, and release notes, as well as author and extension names. The full-text search works the same as the general Contao search, so whole words should be entered. The wildcard * allows to search for word fragments such as galler*, + and - can be used to define distinct words which must be present or absent, for example +shop -translation will find extensions where the word shop occurs, but not the word translation.

Besides the tag search which was already present, there is now an author search, also equipped with the "autocompleter". This became necessary because the repository has too many authors to display all of them in the cloud.

The cloud is the next improvement. The clouds now get filled dynamically depending on the current active filter. When you click on Content element in the tag cloud, then all tags are removed which are unrelated, like before. But now the cloud gets filled up with lower ranked related tags such as Swf for example, which would never have appeared in the cloud in the first release of the ER.

By the way, the extension list now only shows extensions that are compatible with the current "stable" version of Contao. Extensions not compatible or no longer actively maintained are no longer prominently listed in the catalog this way. There is a select input however where you can switch compatibility in case.

Back end

The catalog now lists only extensions that are compatible with the installed version Contao, with the standard settings. The catalog is also equipped with the new full-text search. The function of the filter was adapted to the standard behaviour, so refresh will no longer happen automatically, but you have to click the Refresh button now (except for page change).

The extension manager now has checkboxes to select a number of extensions. The checked extensions can then get updated in one go by clicking the button Update checked extensions.

The compatibility is new evaluated on the basis of major and minor version numbers. If the two match, then compatibility is set as "expected to be compatible". If the micro version is also matching the range stated by the author, then the extension is considered to be fully compatible and tested, and is set as "up to date".

So far the update function has installed the latest version of the extension, whether compatible or not. This is no longer the case: Only releases evaluated as compatible will get offered for update, ie the major and minor version numbers must match. If you want an update (or downgrade) to a version which is considered not compatible, you can do so by installing it with the function Install extension of the manager. (Yes, installing arbitrary versions finally works now).

By the way, an extension can now be protected from accidental update.

Install extension works also slightly different than in the past: you must now know the extension name and type it correctly in the first input, after that you can select the release from a drop-down list. If you don't know the exact name, just need to look it up or just install directly from the backend catalog.

This change was necessary because private extensions are now invisible and no longer listed in the catalogs. Private extensions can therefore only get installed by people with knowledge of the exact name and by the function Install extension. Of course, private extensions can additionally be secured by a key to prevent unauthorized installation as before.

Summary

Many of the changes in the second release of the Extension Repository were introduced because of your feedback to the first release. We hope these changes solve most of your whishes and the improvements help you in your daily work as authors, translators and users. Still there are tickets in the queue to be handled in the next major release, and of course your feedback is appreciated.

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Comments

Comment by Ernest McDermon |

The extension "Flash Content" does not seem to be working properly in Contao 2.9.0. In the previous version of the Content Repository, there was an extension "ce_flash" that worked smoothly for installing Flash Headers, Flash Slide Shows etc. Can this extension be added back into the Extension Repository?

The Flash Content module seems to be designed to allow developers to include written text into an standard blank swf. This is better handled within Flash itself using actionscript and / or external text files to bring text into an animated .swf file. Right now I would be very happy if I could point a module at a .swf file and have it fire the animation in Contao as I used to be able to do wiht the ce_flash extension. Is there a reason that ce_flash was not included for Contao? It was very easy to work with and my clients could use it.

Comment by Peter Koch |

No extensions have been removed from the repository at all. However the author of ce_flash has not yet tagged his extension as compatible to 2.9.

You could still install/update it with the install icon in the extension manager, and entering the exact name of the extension. Or you could switch off compatibility in the settings to have incompatible extensions included in your backend catalog. Be prepared that incompatible extensions may have issues or not work at all, but if you find it works without problems let the author know so he can update the tags.

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