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A Rundown Of Craft CMS Changelog And Updates

10 min read
Craft CMS Changelog And Updates

Craft CMS has rapidly evolved into a flexible, full-featured content management system. This post provides an in-depth rundown of the platform's ongoing development, detailing major changes across versions. Learn about Craft's origins, revolutionary architectural shifts, key features added, and informed speculation about the future roadmap. Discover rich insights into the CMS powering modern websites.

Craft CMS originated in 2013 as a user-friendly CMS and has rapidly evolved through major versions into a flexible, full-featured platform. Key milestones include modular content modelling in Craft 2, a rebuilt architecture and redesigned interface in Craft 3, expanded localization and customization capabilities in 3.x, and likely future shifts toward Vue.js, enhanced headless features, and tighter integration with static site generators.

Major Versions and Releases of Craft CMS

Craft CMS 1.x - The Beginning

Craft CMS 1.x represents the genesis of the modern Craft platform. Launching in 2013, Craft 1.0 arrived as a user-friendly, flexible entry-level CMS. The initial version established core concepts like Fields, Sections, and Entries that still form the foundation of Craft today.

With Craft 1.1, incremental enhancements were introduced like new field types, front-end editing capabilities, and early plugin support. Craft 1.2 built on this with the addition of Categories and Tags, helping users better organise their content. Dynamic sub-page routes also debuted in 1.2, improving URL structures.

Overall, Craft 1.x delivered the baseline content management and publishing functionality. It provided an accessible starting point for many websites and publishers. The 1.x versions shaped an intuitive editing experience that Craft continues to be renowned for.

Craft CMS 2.x - Content Modeling Evolution

Craft CMS 2.0 marked a major leap forward in 2015, fundamentally evolving Craft's content modelling capabilities. Native Matrix field support unlocked modular and structured content, while new relational fields like Entries and Categories enhanced connections. Craft 2.x also introduced the concept of editable entries, transforming static pages into flexible templates.

Additional notable features in Craft 2.x included variant-based Localization, built-in image management, and an overhauled control panel interface. Craft 2.1 further improved the user experience with draft/revision support and preview modes. Craft 2.2 expanded functionality with tag management, new Cloud image support, and custom dashboard widgets.

With its expansive field types and streamlined editing tools, Craft CMS 2.x enabled unbridled flexibility for diverse website architectures. Content modelling became exponentially more powerful yet easy to harness. The 2.x versions cemented Craft as a modern CMS contender.

Craft CMS 3.x - A Modern CMS

Craft CMS 3.0 thoroughly modernised the platform in 2018 with long-awaited multi-site support, custom user roles, native URI support, and headless capabilities. The user experience was refined through usability improvements like drag-and-drop building. Automation features like Smart Routes and Salesforce integration also emerged in 3.0.

Incremental yet impactful changes continued through the 3.x releases. Craft 3.1 delivered plugin-powered custom fields, opening unlimited possibilities for field types. Craft 3.2 expanded multi-lingual support and improved element indexing. Craft 3.3 enhanced performance and animations, while Craft 3.4 introduced new Structures and CRM integrations.

Recent additions in Craft 3.8 like custom dashboards and project config bring further customisation and project management enhancements. With its relentless evolution, Craft 3.x cements itself as a flexible, full-featured CMS for today's web.

Revolutionary Changes in Craft CMS 3.0

A Re-Architected Codebase

Craft CMS 3.0 represented a complete rewrite of the core system, with over 95% of the codebase rebuilt from the ground up. This overhaul allowed Craft to move to a more modern, modular architecture optimised for flexibility and extensions.

Unlike the tightly coupled structure in Craft 2, Craft 3 adopted an object-oriented approach with well-defined classes and interfaces. Craft CMS plugins and modules integrate seamlessly via standardised APIs. The code was also optimised for performance enhancements.

This revolutionary architectural overhaul enabled major improvements to extensibility. Craft 3.0 ushered in a new era where nearly every aspect of the CMS can be customised or extended. This created limitless possibilities for plugins and module development.

An Intuitive New Interface

Complementing the rebuilt codebase, Craft 3.0 also introduced a redesigned control panel interface. The new interface focuses heavily on usability, simplifying administrative workflows for users of all skill levels.

Easy drag-and-drop content building allows quicker editing without sacrificing power. Contextual create buttons streamline new entry flows. Automation features like content propagation reduce repetitive tasks.

The interface also adopts principles of progressive disclosure. Advanced settings and configuration options are tucked away until needed, emphasising simplicity and approachability. Overall, the intuitive design philosophy in Craft 3 enables more efficient CMS use.

New & Improved Features

Craft 3.0 packed a trove of new capabilities to level up modern web development. Live Preview provides real-time visual feedback when building templates, improving developer experience.

Native Matrix support gives flexible content modelling powers, while new Sections and Entries simplify content structures. Vast plugin capabilities allow the CMS to be extended in endless ways.

Other notable improvements include customisable user roles, multi-site management, built-in SVG support, and headless capabilities. Automation enhancements reduce tedious work for increased productivity.

With its revolutionary changes, Craft CMS 3.0 firmly established itself as a modern, flexible, and developer-friendly CMS. The rebuilt architecture, redesigned interface, and new features realised the platform's potential to power modern web experiences.

Ongoing Evolution in Craft 3.x

Multi-site & Localization

While Craft 3.0 delivered a huge leap forward, innovative improvements continued in subsequent 3.x versions. One major addition came in Craft 3.1 with expanded multi-site capabilities.

Craft 3.1 allows managing multiple sites that share common structures and elements, while still maintaining unique content across sites. This enables efficient management of complex global digital presences from a single interface.

Deeper multi-language support also arrived to streamline localization workflows. Multiple sites can share translations and localize templates, channels, and elements. Craft's localization tools help maintain consistent multi-lingual experiences.

Custom User Roles & Permissions

Craft extended its access control capabilities in 3.1 with customisable user roles and permissions. Rather than just Admin and User roles, any number of custom roles can now be defined with granular settings.

Permissions like viewing, editing, creating, and deleting can be assigned at both global and fine-grained section/element levels. Groups connect users for efficient role management. These custom roles and permissions enable refined CMS access tailored to specific teams and workflows.

Improved UX and Fields

Ongoing Craft 3.x releases delivered relentless UX refinements for more intuitive content editing. Keyboard shortcuts, auto-focusing inputs, and drag-and-drop streamline workflows. Active element states help visualize content relationships.

The field system also expanded, including new Table and Color fields in Craft 3.1. Craft 3.2 introduced reuseable field layouts to standardize structures. And Craft 3.3 brought the major Fields v2 overhaul with workflow enhancements.

Additional improvements like version pruning, enhanced indexing, and simplified project config further elevate the authoring experience while smoothing development. The Craft 3.x evolution continues delivering a refined, full-featured CMS.

The Road Ahead for Craft CMS

Craft CMS has come a long way from its origins in 2013, transformed through relentless innovation across major releases. As Craft continues maturing into a flexible, full-featured CMS, what does the future hold for this modern platform?

While specific details remain unconfirmed, we can glean insights into Craft's future direction from the public product roadmap and overall development trajectory. Judging from these clues, several potential enhancements seem likely in upcoming Craft 4 and beyond.

For starters, an eventual shift to Vue.js seems probable as the front-end JavaScript framework for the control panel interface. Vue aligns well with Craft's modular approach and could bring performance gains. Early signs of Vue adoption have already emerged in recent versions.

Expanded headless and decoupled capabilities also appear firmly on the roadmap. API-driven content delivery will likely grow even more robust and flexible. Tighter integrations with static site generators like Gatsby seem imminent.

Ongoing improvements to structured content modelling can be expected as well. Craft could incorporate new field types and tools tailored for managing complex, component-driven content. The Entries and Structures paradigm will continue evolving.

And under the hood, a transition to full PHP 8 support seems inevitable. Craft will need to leverage the newest PHP capabilities while dropping outdated legacy support in the next major release.

Of course, specifics are subject to change as Craft conducts user testing and refines the roadmap. But the overarching path points toward an even more versatile, scalable and integrated CMS poised for the modern Jamstack era. The development team continues pushing Craft forward in innovative ways, raising the bar for content platforms.

Shape April 2022 HR 202
Andy Golpys
- Author

Andy has scaled multiple businesses and is a big believer in Craft CMS as a tool that benefits both Designer, Developer and Client. 

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