eZ Publish 4.4 Released, Sports New Image Editor, Native Support for HTML 5In early September they told us it was going to happen, and now it has. eZ Systems (newssite) has just released eZ Publish 4.4 Enterprise. Let's have a look at what's new and improved.

Community vs Enterprise Editions

We went through the details of the new divsion of eZ Publish into Community and Enterprise Editions. According to Roland Benedetti, VP Product Management for eZ Systems, the needs of the community and the enterprise customer are not the same. The biggest difference is in the services and support enterprises need to ensure their web properties are running smoothly.

So while both editions run on the same foundation of open source web content management that eZ has always maintained, the Enterprise Edition will offer services and support via the eZ Network.

The latest release of eZ Publish -- 4.4 -- does sport a few new features that you can see and touch, and a few improvements that will make your website run better, but aren't obvious to the end-user. Add to this over 600 bug fixes and you have a pretty substantial release. Here's what's new:

eZ Publish 4.4 - What's New

eZ Systems is spending a lot of time and effort designing and improving the administration user interface to make it easier to create and manage content. Within eZ Publish 4.4. there are two new features that lend to this effort:

Image Editor

The new Image Editor allows administrators to select an image from an image gallery and edit it. There had already been the ability to edit the metadata of the image in prior releases. Now you can also edit the features of the image itself, including things like resize, crop, add watermark and all the basic editing capabilities you find in a standard image editor.

eZ Publish 4.4 - Image Editor

According to Benedetti, this feature was initiated by a customer in the media industry who needed to be able to pixelate faces out of pictures. 

Support for HTML 5 Video

Version 4.4 of eZ Publish provides out of the box management of HTML 5 videos (mp4 videos). This is actually more of a configuration of eZ Publish than a new feature. For years, there was always the ability to configure how a video would run in the website. But now the functionality has been surfaced with a user interface.

eZ Publish 4.4 HTML 5 Video Support

You can upload a video and indicate whether you want it to run in the browser via HTML 5, using the HTML5 video datatype, or display it within the Flash Player. It also supports both the iPhone and iPad.

Additional Updates for the User

A few other notable improvements for the backoffice include:

  • Native Support for reCaptcha with user generated content.
  • Auto suggestion within eZ Find upon partial entry in the search field. Note this feature works on both the front-end and in the backoffice search.
  • Easy configuration of fields viewed on the screen without a refresh of the interface, easier to move through large amounts of data -- AJAX lends a helping hand here.
  • Manage multiple items at a time.
  • The button to create new content has been moved to the top of the interface.

According to eZ, 20-30% of any new release is always dedicated to usability improvements.

Connecting the Service Portal

For Enterprise Customers, there is now a new TAB in the Backoffice interface: Service Portal. This TAB provides administrators quick access to the services and support they have with their Enterprise license, including their agreement, tickets, monitoring and any updates/patches made or available for their system.

eZ Publish 4.4 Service Portal Tab

A Little Something for Developers & SysAdmins 

These are the behind the scenes improvements that make the work of developers and sys admins a little easier. They include:

  • New Session Management improves performance by using in-memory clustering of sessions.
  • An Archiving toolkit supports moving older content into an archive, while still making it available (read-only) in the website via eZ Find. Content is archived in a granular format, allowing developers to adjust the presentation accordingly.
  • Improvements to section management, multi-site setup and extension loading have also been made.

All this is great, but eZ believes one the most important new capabilities is the Developer Preview of the new eZ Publish API for Mobile devices including the Android, iPhone, iPad and the Blackberry. eZ Systems believes the next generation WCM platforms must support an channel/device, and this Mobile API is there proof they can do that.

There's More to Come

eZ Systems is still committed to a lifecycle that includes 2 releases per year. So you should expect the next release to come sometime March/April 2011. Called Matterhorn, it will include a mobile admin API, improved workflow, redesigned eZ Flow and inline editing among other UX improvements. 

For Developers, expect to see the API for mobile apps and a toolkit, semantic web support, targeted content publishing and more.

And for Enterprise Customers, official API support, analytics and multivariate testing are in the works.