The core team is proud to announce the first Beta of TYPO3 version 4.2. Unfortunately after having the first beta packaged three days ago we noticed that a patch submitted just before caused some trouble which is why we kept this announcement back and are now releasing Beta1a.
So what's new?
More polishing on the Cleaner Backend Project
The Cleaner Backend Project has seen some important changes since TYPO3 4.2alpha3 was released only three weeks ago. The most obvious improvement is the document header, which is now present across all Web modules. Many changes also went into the new toolbar at top of the backend. Items in the new shortcut menu now reflect their type by showing the correct icon instead of a default pencil icon. Another new menu in the toolbar collects recently used and open documents, replacing the old Documents module. The current backend user's real name is shown in the toolbar, too and is linked to the user's preferences settings.
Another very prominent change is the new eye-pleasing style of the module menu. The menu now collapses and expands without the reload required by the old backends module menu. When you install an extension that comes with a new backend module or you set a new language in your user preferences the menu also refreshes to reflect these changes. Other than that many rendering issues have been fixed in Internet Explorer 6 and Safari.
User settings revamped
Also related to the Cleaner Backend Project is the reworking of the user preferences settings. These have now been divided into groups to make it easier to find the settings you need to adjust.
The user preferences also come with an option to set a module you want to start in after you log in to the backend.
Tree can be collapsed now
The page tree can now be collapsed so that the right content area resizes to fit the whole space from the right of the module menu. To make this even more useful, the tables in the list module are now set to expand to the entire available width. This means that if you have a table and want to see many columns you do not have to scroll horizontally anymore. Instead you can just hide the tree and gain more space to look at your data.
Improved Constants Editor
The Constants Editor has also been improved to save you even more time when working with it. Until now you had to check which fields you wanted to change, save and finally edit your settings. Now you only need to click an icon in front of the settings you want to change and you are immediately presented with an input field.
Page is being generated message eliminated
You most likely have seen the message that the page is being generated. This message is caused when a page gets accessed from two clients with only a minor time difference. TYPO3 4.2beta1a comes with a change that should fix this behavior so that it does not appear anymore.
New Installer not shipping with TYPO3 4.2 final
The release of this beta version also means that we now have a feature freeze for TYPO3 4.2 so it was time to review the big projects that were targeted for TYPO3 4.2. These projects included a new form wizard, the cleaner backend, the TypoScript editor with code highlighting and the new installer. A commit policy for these projects existed that allowed the developers to bypass the strict commit rules for the TYPO3 core to get faster results. The developers did not have to wait for a complete review of their changes in the core list, but were allowed to directly commit them as long as they would not change other parts of the core that were not related to their project. After they committed their changes they had to send a "For Your Information" message to the core list explaining what they changed.
TYPO3 is still of course an Open Source project and although we all would like to devote our time to the project, this is not possible in all cases. It might happen that we have very limited time or no time at all to work on the things we would like to work on. There may be many reasons for this; from an extended work load at a job, to personal problems, needing some general time off, or in some cases missing financial support to work on such projects.
The commit policy described above also specified that we would have a review of the projects prior to releasing Beta 1. Quite early after the work on TYPO3 4.2 started it became clear that we would not be able to ship the promised form wizard due to Patricks availability. The version of the form wizard that Patrick showed during T3CON07 was very promising and therefore we hope to see Patrick and other developers complete this great feature for TYPO3 4.3.
An exciting feature for all administrators and developers is the new TypoScript editor with syntax highlighting. This editor will make it easier to get a quick overview of your code and support your work with TypoScript. Tobias Liebig was responsible of developing that editor and succeeded in delivering that very welcomed feature for TYPO3 4.2.
I myself was responsible to give the backend the new shape that it has now. At the beginning it was a quite tough job as many parts had to be rewritten or completely new created to fit our high demands on code quality and extensibility. Luckily other developers also were interested in supporting this effort and creating the new backend as you have seen it since TYPO3 4.2 Alpha 3.
The last of these projects - the new installer - was lead by Thomas. The idea for a new installer actually is not that new as the first efforts were made during the work on TYPO3 4.1. That timeframe shows that recreating such an important part of TYPO3 is not as easy as one might believe. At times it was lots of fun seeing Thomas and the installer making good progress while other times there was a long silence about the installer before Thomas returned with a whole load of new things. Late in the development of TYPO3 4.2 Thomas also got support from other developers. However, in the end all the support was not enough to get the installer finished according to the commit policy and in time for Beta 1 and the feature freeze. Therefore the new installer will not ship with TYPO3 4.2. Nevertheless this does not mean that Thomas' invaluable work was for nothing; we will just continue with the development of the new installer, get it even more polished and then ship it with TYPO3 4.3.
On behalf of the whole core team I'd like to thank Patrick, Tobias, and especially Thomas for the things you do. Keep on rocking!
Developer related changes
There is an important change that might affect many extensions. The methods in the common library t3lib_div have been equipped with PHP5 member visibility declarations and parameter type hints. This may result in many errors turning up if, for example, a string or integer was supplied as a method parameter where an array was expected. Please watch the core also, as there may be places where this happens that we haven't found yet. Please see further down on how to report a bug. Also test your extensions to make sure that they aren't affected by these changes or that any issues that do appear get fixed.
The versions of prototype and script.acolo.us that ship with TYPO3 are again updated to their most recent bugfix releases. A hook has been introduced that makes it possible to manipulate the list of variables that are taken into account when creating a cHash for cached pages. Please be careful when using this hook as it may affect the performance and caching behavior of your site. Concerning this you may also want to read the article "The mysteries of &cHash" before tampering with TYPO3's caching system. The performance of the caching system should also improve on large site as a change was implemented that allows making better use of MySQL's query cache. The problem was that when rendering a page in TYPO3 the timestamp was included in database queries. Since those timestamps changed with each request the queries also differed each time and thus MySQL's query cache could not be used. Now the timestamps are rounded on a per minute basis, which produces the same queries for a whole minute, and MySQL can thus use results from the query cache instead of having to execute the whole query again.
Bugs related to workspaces and MM-relations were fixed so that relations do not break anymore when publishing records with such relations. The user admin module is now available in draft workspaces, too and custom messages can be sent when raising changes from one stage to another.
Reminder: Raised minimum PHP version requirement
To run TYPO3 4.2beta1 you need to have at least PHP 5.2. This move was necessary to use language features introduced since PHP 5.0.
Other then the highlighted features we also packed tons of bug fixes, performance improvements, enthusiasm, and love into this release. A special thanks for the help in making this release what it is goes to the core team and all engaged community developers.
Next steps to 4.2
Please test this beta version as much as possible, especially the new features from the previous alpha releases and those described above! If you're using one of the new features in a project of yours already and discover bugs, please report them immediately to http://bugs.typo3.org/!
The next release - if necessary - will be TYPO3 4.2 Beta2, or otherwise Release Candidate 1. If everything goes well and the beta proves to be mostly bug-free we will be able to stick with our schedule of releasing the final version of TYPO3 4.2 at the end of February.
You can download the packages at http://typo3.org/download/packages/.