TYPO3 4.4 Release Notes

by Benjamin Mack, TYPO3 Release Manager 4.4

The latest TYPO3 version 4.4 makes TYPO3 easier than ever – especially for newbies. Your TYPO3 website can be up and running in five minutes after it has been downloaded – use the included template and it is ready to go right away. Below you will find the most important innovations.

The New Introduction Package

People who try out TYPO3 don't want to read a lot of manuals, they just want to download, see and experience TYPO3 right away. The "introduction package" does exactly that.

The introduction package provides a broad spectrum of the most common features of a TYPO3 installation. It also provides a template that can easily be customized with colors and logos. A setup wizard guides the user through the installation that creates a default website with a clean XHTML template with dozens of pages. The included TypoScript configuration also serves as a best-practice guide.

It all boils down to this: You can have a working TYPO3 installation and website within five minutes!

Fresh and Improved Backend

TYPO3 4.4 ships with a brand-new skin which includes updated icons, a better color scheme, and hundreds of changes under the hood to speed up the TYPO3 Backend.

A new skin, developed during the TYPO3 User Experience week in November 2009, is now used for both the TYPO3 Backend and the installation process. Also, many icons have been replaced to enhance the usability experience. Behind the scenes, all CSS statements and files have been cleaned up, restructured, and are now automatically combined to speed up the TYPO3 Backend. Additionally, icons have been exchanged with sprite images. This results in a reduction of server requests by as much as 90 percent! There is also an available style guide so extension developers can integrate their modules cleanly, or they can easily develop their own icon stylesets and skins.

Easier Installation than Ever

Installing TYPO3 is a piece of cake now: The installation package includes a more precise 1-2-3 installer with additional options to configure additional database systems right away. The install process itself is also fully customizable.

When setting up a new TYPO3 installation, the user is guided through an updated installer, which integrates nicely in the new look and feel of the new TYPO3 Backend styles. Plus, it is possible to setup TYPO3 using a different DBMS than MySQL in the very first step of the 1-2-3 Installer. The Install Tool itself has been updated and outdated configuration options have been removed.

Under the hood, the Install Tool's code base has been cleaned up and to allow modifications. With these changes, agencies can create their own TYPO3 packages with customized default options. An example of this is the new introduction package (see above).

Revised and Faster Rich Text Editor

The built-in editor „HTMLarea“ is now completely based on ExtJS, the framework that TYPO3 includes since version 4.3. The change from the underlying JavaScript framework allows for tighter integration in the rest of TYPO3.

The default Rich Text Editor, called "htmlArea", has undergone major restructuring. The RTE loads faster than ever because it now runs on the JavaScript Framework ExtJS. The TYPO3-based htmlArea is the first and only feature-complete open-source ExtJS based RTE.

Further Changes in 4.4

Tighter integration with ExtJS
The TYPO3 Backend was moved into an ExtJS Viewport. This is one of the first steps in a sequence to ExtJSify the complete TYPO3 Backend. Currently this gives developers the possibility to create their own content on the left frame, like the page tree. Also, a developer can easily extend the viewport with own code to create e.g. a collapsable module menu.

Skinning API: Icon Sprites
Most icons used in the TYPO3 Backend are now rendered through so-called sprites. Instead of loading many image tags with single icons and therefore many server requests there are now only six sprite images. A sprite image is a big image with all icons included. Image-tags have gotten replaced by "span" tags using the big sprite images with background and offset functionality. This reduces the HTTP and fileheader overhead of about 90% which results in a blasting fast TYPO3 Backend.

Skinning API: Reorganized CSS Files in the Backend
All CSS files have been split up into structural and visual parts. This restructuring process also paves the way to modify the TYPO3 Backend so that the CSS is kept manageable, and to allow for web designers to create their own TYPO3 Backend skin easier than ever.

Note: When upgrading from previous installations, all files in  typo3conf/temp_*.php should be deleted, otherwise the Backend might look completely unstyled. 

Skinning API: CSS and Javascript Concatenator and Compressor
Due to the fact that the CSS code is now separated in over one hundred separate files, the browser would need to include all of them for just one page hit in the TYPO3 Backend. A generic solution was developed to merge all files together and optionally compress them to keep the number of server requests to a minimum.

Revised Task Center
The task center module and all its components like User Actions (System Extension sys_action) and Notes (TER extension sys_notes) have undergone a complete refactoring, both visually and code-wise, and now has a clean API to add more elements to the new task center.

Extbase and Fluid
Extbase, the MVC approach to write Frontend plugins in TYPO3 and Fluid, the new templating engine used in TYPO3 Phoenix, have proven stable enough to work in hundreds of installations. Extbase also now completely works for TYPO3 Backend modules, and can be used in both Frontend and Backend environments. Also, there are improvements to both systems, reflecting the maturaty of the extensions.

Full HTML5 Support
TYPO3 4.4 comes with full support to run web sites in HTML5. This can simply be turned on by configuring the appropriate TypoScript option. Additionally, the TYPO3 Backend supports HTML5; it is now simple to add HTML5 elements to both Backend and Frontend.

Caching Framework improvements
Additional development coming from TYPO3 Phoenix Caching Framework has been backported to TYPO3 4.4, to allow optimized and more configurable caching.

Removal of Static Templates
The static templates for some basic designs, that were part of the TYPO3 Core since TYPO3 3.5 are now moved to a system extension that is not included by default. If you are using one of these templates (GLUECK, GREEN, CANDIDATE etc) or one of the old table-based layouts for rendering content (like content (default) or plaintext rendering), make sure to install the system extension ("statictemplate") via the Install Tool.

Versioning / Workspaces
"Element" versioning is the only versioning method that is supported in TYPO3. "Page" and "Branch" versioning types have been disabled for all installations by default. These features were deprecated with TYPO3 4.2, and will be removed in TYPO3 4.6. In order to still use "Page" or "Branch" versioning, set the option $TYPO3_CONF_VARS['BE']['elementVersioningOnly'] to FALSE.

The dummy "draft workspace" has been disabled for all installations, as it is not usable for production environments, and the existance led to confusion. The draft workspace can be enabled via an option in the extension configuration of the "version" extension.

Old TYPO3 3.x Backend Interface
The interface "backend_old" was completely removed. This was the Backend interface from 4.1 and earlier. As it wasn't maintained and didn't work correctly anymore, all references are removed - the remaining interfaces for the login are "backend" and "frontend".

Dropped support for GDlib 1.x
Support for GDlib 1.x was completely dropped, only GDlib 2.x is supported, which is bundled with most PHP installations.

 The release of TYPO3 4.4 had these high-level goals:To increase adoption of TYPO3

  1. To stabilize the TYPO3 Core package by finishing open tasks
  2. To pave a way for a smooth transition to TYPO3 Phoenix
  3. To ensure maximum backwards compatibility

The changes above reflect these goals, more information can be found in the NEWS.txt that is shipped with the TYPO3 source package.

Download and 4.5 Planning

Be sure to download the introduction package with a guided installation and a default template, the dummy package without any preconfigurations or the TYPO3 source from the Download page.

TYPO3 4.4 is not the end of it, we have a bunch of more ideas for the next versions that didn't make it in 4.4. Consistent validation, revived workspaces & versioning, a ExtJS-based page tree, to name a few, but also everything that you wanted to improve in TYPO3 now has the chance to get into 4.5. The next release is already in the plans with a release date in December 2010.

Thanks to everybody who contributed to this release, whether it was code, creativity, discussions, money or time. TYPO3 4.4 is dedicated to the growing TYPO3 community around the globe and to the one who made it all possible.

Benjamin Mack
Release Manager TYPO3 4.4