Joomla 3.6 is scheduled for release on July 12th. The last release, Joomla 3.5, was released in March and packed a huge amount of features and updates, so you may be asking what's new in this release so soon. Originally, the next version of Joomla was planned for much later in the year, but there was a key feature that the Joomla core team (and other members of the community) felt warranted a smaller release sooner.. and we couldn't agree with their decision more.
The main feature that the core team wanted to get in user's hands was the new ability to re-install the latest version of Joomla. This is a feature that Wordpress has had for some time and allows you to refresh all core files on your site to make sure there have been no modifications. This is useful in case there have been any developer/contractor core hacks and, even more importantly, any malicious hacks/malware made to your files.
Any open-source project can suffer from vulnerabilities, and Joomla is no exception. However, it has proven extremely secure over time. This new feature will prove extremely beneficial as a first step in diagnosing and cleaning up any unwanted changes to your core files should they occur.
This isn't mentioned on the Joomla release candidate blog post, but I think it's one of the most exciting new features coming to Joomla. Reverse caching proxies will automatically cache the HTML output for each page of a site, bypassing all of the PHP processing that Joomla would normally require. This can provide a huge performance boost for high-trafficked sites especially, but can benefit sites of all sizes.
Until Joomla 3.6, getting Varnish or the web acceleration features of Nginx to work well with Joomla has been very difficult. That, fortunately, changes for this release and should help make Joomla a go-to CMS for an even larger set of sites.
New installations of Joomla will have the log directory defaulted to /administrator/logs instead of in the root /logs directory. Upgrades of Joomla should not change the directory from where it currently is. The reasoning for moving this is somewhat security related, as it's easier to restrict everything in the /administrator directory if you wish, as well as logical as logging is inherently an administrator task.
The main reason to point this out is so you can be aware to look in both locations if a developer asks you to look at your log files.
There are a quite a few other updates and improvements in this release. The Release Candidate announcement post specifically calls out the new Sub-Form Field, which is awesome if you're a developer, but less exciting for end-users. I'd highly recommend checking out the full Joomla 3.6 changelog. There's something in there for everyone!
The next release after 3.6 will be... 3.7! This release is going to rock the Joomla world, and we're super excited about it. It's going to include a (long-overdue) router overhaul for improved SEF URLs, more control over generated URLs and a reduction in duplicated URLs; a new media manager; and a new custom fields ability for articles, making Joomla content a bit more CCK like. A release date for 3.7 hasn't been set yet, but is expected to be out later this year.
Yes! Joomla 3.6 will be a 1-click upgrade, not a migration, which means you shouldn't run into any issues with updating or with extension compatibility. Of course, our Joomla social network extension has already been verified to work with the upcoming release. There have been multiple betas and now a release candidate, so most major extension developers should already be prepared for the update as well.