News: OpenX 2.8.0 released

Eight months and eleven days after the release of OpenX 2.6.0, OpenX have released the next stable version of the OpenX ad server, OpenX 2.8.0.

The Guru has been testing this release throughout the “beta” phase, and this version does have some good new features:

  • The user interface has been updated, and although some parts of it are pretty much the same as in the OpenX 2.6 version, on the whole, it looks and feels more like a web application from the 21st century, which is a welcome change from the distinctly 1990′s feel of previous versions. For the most part, the new user interface is not only an improvement in looks, it’s also an improvement in terms of workflow and ease of use.
  • OpenX 2.8 includes something called “Bucket Based Logging“. In The Guru’s experience, this new logging system is a major improvement, and provides a massive boost to OpenX’s logging performance (in the event that your OpenX installation is disk I/O bound), and also means that some of those huge raw data tables are no longer needed. However, at this stage, it would seem that the OpenX 2.8 upgrade process does not remove any raw tables, so you may need to manually drop these tables, if space is an issue.
  • There’s a new plugin framework. For most small to medium users of OpenX, The Guru doesn’t imagine this will really make much of a difference, at least, not until some plugins start to appear on the OpenX Plugin site. However, in The Guru’s experience with seriously large volume users of OpenX, the new framework seems to be going down well, as it is allowing users with time, money and development staff to start extending OpenX in a way that will hopefully mean no more code-patching on upgrades. (Hopefully, some of these large companies will contribute back to the OpenX Plugin site?)
  • Finally, the OpenX Market, which has been in OpenX Hosted for a while now, is also made available to download users of OpenX. This should be really good news for small to medium users of OpenX, who are stuck with ad networks who are not paying out much!

So, to the big questions. Is it any good? Does it delivery? Should you upgrade?

The Guru has some little concerns about the user interface:

  • Firstly, the new Advertiser/Campaign/Banner and Website/Zone navigation system doesn’t seem to remember which Advertiser, Campaign or Website you were last using, and you often end up editing the Campaigns, Banners or Zones of some apparently randomly selected Advertiser, Campaign or Website. This forces you to return to a higher level, and then re-select what you want to work on.
  • Secondly, the user interface now no longer seems to work if you have multiple browser tabs open, operating in different areas of the Advertiser/Campaign/Banner and Website/Zone navigation system. For larger users of OpenX, with a complex trafficking setup, being able to open multiple tabs in different areas of the system is vital.
  • Finally, although the new UI does look much nicer, and once you get used to the new layout is generally better in terms of workflow, some actions that used to take one mouse click now take two, as a result of moving “actions” and “shortcuts” into drop down menus. It makes the UI cleaner, but it does slow down trafficking a little.

Additionally, if you are thinking about upgrading to OpenX 2.8.0, please note the main changes in minimum system requirements:

  • The minimum required version of PHP is now 5.1.4.
  • The minimum required version of MySQL is now 4.1.

Finally, The Guru’s main worry is – has this release been released too soon? Is it really “stable”?

In the past, OpenX has always gone through quite a lengthy “beta” cycle, with plenty of releases to get things right. This time around, we had OpenX 2.7.29-beta, released on February 5, and then…. Nothing! There was some talk on the OpenX forum about OpenX 2.7.30-beta having been tagged, and OpenX 2.7.31-beta being under development, and OpenX’s bug tracker says that OpenX 2.7.30-beta was due to be released on March 20, but it never appeared… Now, OpenX 2.8.0 is out, having had just the one prior “beta” release, and at the time of this post, there are 135 bugs in the OpenX bug tracker that affect OpenX 2.7.29-beta, and the two mysterious unreleased OpenX 2.7.30-beta and OpenX 2.7.31-beta versions.

On the whole, however, The Guru’s testing of OpenX 2.7.29-beta, and now of OpenX 2.8.0, has gone well, so unless any of bugs above seem like “show stoppers” for you, then at least investigating an upgrade to OpenX 2.8 seems like it would be a good idea. Just make sure you’ve got a good backup of your existing database, OpenX code, and banner files, so that you can return to your old version, if required…

See the official release notes for OpenX 2.8.0 for further details of the changes and updates in OpenX 2.8.0.