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Gantry5: Regarding Backward Compatibility

Backward Compatibility

Gantry5 is a complete rewrite of the Gantry Framework. Gantry5 incorporates a lot of new features that are quickly becoming the standard for modern Web applications, without the now-obsolete features necessary for previous versions of the platforms.

During Gantry’s five-year history it evolved and grew together with Joomla, WordPress, Web browsers, and standards while doing its best to maintain backward compatibility with older templates. Most of the older features have already been replaced with more modern approaches in recently created templates. We wanted to take this even further with Gantry5. To create something from a clean slate that not only met the needs of today, but adapted easily to the needs of our users for years to come.

When we first announced Gantry5’s requirements, it was revealed that the new edition of the Gantry Framework would not be backward compatible. This decision was made for several reasons, which we will explore in this article.

Why isn’t Gantry5 Backward Compatible?

When Gantry was first created, the Internet as a whole was very different. As an example, support for long-outdated browsers was still expected as automatic updates were only recently introduced in more modern options.

The challenge with having a backward-compatible framework at this stage would involve having to build in contingencies for the latest Web technologies, allowing for our older and newer templates to share the same framework without issue.

Another factor to consider is the evolution of the CMS platforms themselves. Gantry started during the days of Joomla 1.5, and both Joomla and WordPress have since evolved, leaving behind a lot of legacy code and features which have since been replaced by more modern approaches. This means there is a lot of unused, and ultimately unnecessary bits and pieces in the existing Gantry framework to keep it backward compatible with older versions of these platforms.

By eliminating this obstacle and starting fresh, we were able to avoid these problems. The result: A less cluttered backend and a more streamlined codebase.

It also enables us to create a more fluid layout manager and menu system, eliminating any need for the user to open a text editor or alter files to do things like add positions or edit error pages. We also incorporated a new color picker, font selector, and other elements that work seamlessly with the new framework.

An important factor in this decision is that by making Gantry5 backward compatible, we would essentially lock it into a platform-specific state. With Gantry5, we are able to open Gantry up to additional platforms, and make templates inherently more portable and capable of being easily converted between platforms like Joomla, WordPress, phpBB, Magento, and a flat-file CMS like Grav.

Gantry5 offers users a very different user experience. This wouldn’t be possible if we hadn’t dramatically changed the way the framework interacts with the theme.


Will Pre-existing Templates and Themes be Updated?

Because Gantry5 is a complete rewrite of Gantry from the ground up, featuring an entirely different approach and set of concepts to create themes, updating an existing template or theme would mean basically rebuilding it from scratch. There is no way to “convert” a template or theme built on Gantry 4 for Gantry5.

There are also a handful of features within Gantry4 that are incorporated into templates and themes built on that platform that are not being carried over to Gantry5. This is either because they are dated and have since evolved into a different feature, or they have since become part of the core feature set of the CMS (content management system).

RocketTheme has a rich catalogue of designs, many of which have stood the test of time and become favorites among our users. We recognize that there are a lot of people that would want to enjoy the features of Gantry5 without sacrificing the design qualities they enjoy in their existing template.

For many of these templates, creating a Gantry5 version of them would be an inadequate solution. For this reason, we hope to create a new generation of themes that have all the power and flexibility of Gantry5 while still maintaining some of the most popular design elements our community has come to love.

What Will Happen to Gantry 4 and its Existing Themes?

RocketTheme is dedicated to not only supporting existing templates and themes built on the Gantry 4 Framework, but in continuing to improve and update these products alongside Gantry5 for the foreseeable future.

Gantry 4 will also remain in support. We will not stop supporting and even improving on this framework, which is remarkably stable and extremely flexible. Gantry 4 remains an excellent choice for websites because it is a reliable platform with a proven track record.

RocketTheme currently has over 120 Gantry-powered templates and themes for WordPress and Joomla, all of which are still receiving full support from the team, as well as regular updates.

RocketTheme continues to support and release updates for templates made prior to 2009, before the Gantry Framework was founded.

For more information about Gantry5, please check out these other blog posts from our ongoing series:

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