OJS is a very helpful program to organize, provide, and publish a journal. Many versions of OJS have been created and developed until they reach the latest version OJS 3.3. PKP team is very good at maintenance and supporting the OJS as more users using this application since the first release of OJS in 2001. Currently, OJS has two version branches: OJS 2.X and OJS 3. The latest version for OJS 3 released this year 2021. It has been 20 years of this software to help many publishers in organizing their scientific publication.
Although it is clear that currently, PKP as the official developer of OJS focused more on OJS 3.X version, many publishers still feel reluctant to upgrade their OJS to the new version. The new version even provides more features compare that the previous one.
And maybe you are asking, “Why should I upgrade my OJS 2 version to OJS 3? I already like this OJS version 2. I don’t need OJS version 3”.
Okay. I understand your opinion, you have been using this OJS version 2 scope for a long time.
However, you like it or not, everything always moving forward to the change. Here is our recap will help to take into your consideration to answer this question.
- Things that need to be considered in the OJS 2
- Features in OJS 3 :
Things that need to be considered in the OJS 2
Here are some points that can shed light on what the essential different between OJS 2 and OJS 3.
1. OJS version 2 mostly uses PHP version < 5 which can threaten the security of your OJS.
Many of the OJS 2 users were affected by this malware attack. And causing loss of submissions. This happens because in OJS 2 there is a security issue. On the date, this writing was made the PKP on their download page has made a public announcement that the latest version of the OJS 2 version which is on March 2021 is 2.4.8-5 that can be found here.
The gems in your journal are articles and data related to submissions. When you let your OJS use version 2 then you deliberately open the doorway for hackers to be able to enter your server, delete submission data or articles, steal the private data of your journal users or even use journals for identity forgery which can threaten credibility from your journal, left behind by both authors and contributors and tarnishes the reputation you’ve built over the years.
You know the answer, who will be interested submitting any paper that will be threaten vanished by any malware attack ?
You can check the PHP 5.6 detail vulnerabilities here.
2. OJS 2 is no longer being maintained by the PKP developer
Currently, PKP developers are more focused on maintenance and development on OJS 3. As of this writing on February 24, 2021, the last version of OJS 2 even has a security issue that hasn’t been fixed yet. The last version was even released almost a year ago.
As you can see on the above release date between these two versions have very long different periods of time. It is very obvious that PKP now more focused on OJS 3 development rather than OJS 2 discontinue application. For the current situation you can check the latest release date on this official site.
4. OJS 2 has a very bad user interface
It is not without reason that PKP released OJS 3 as their latest version of OJS.
Despite the addition of new features and flexibility, the OJS 2 has a very bad interface. In the default OJS 2 theme the text appears very small with unnoticed padding, margins, and spacing. By using OJS 2 the site will become lower in usability. No wonder that many of publisher that still using OJS 2 as their base platform will change the look of OJS 2 with more clear font size and layout.
You can compare how the OJS 2 and the new glossy OJS 3 will look like on the typography :
Preview between the OJS default themes :
5. OJS 2 Responsive display limitation
OJS 2 has limited support for responsive display. Responsive display is a display that can make adjustments to the display on devices of different sizes such as smartphones, tablets and desktops. This approach implement in OJS 3 that make the front end of the journal become responsive or changed based on the user device or screen size.
The limitation of the responsive display feature on OJS 2 will bring poor experience from users. The site will look the same on each device although now each user has a unique device that has a different screen size. This will look the font becomes smaller on the smartphone/tablet view. The OJS 2 designed only to serve one screen size which is desktop.
6. No discussion for OJS 2 on the forum
Even though the use of OJS 2 is still supported by PKP, currently the community in the PKP forum is discussing more OJS 3 or OMP. Topics related to OJS 2 appear very rarely in this forum.
This shows that OJS users and third-party developers are more inclined towards OJS 3 than OJS 2. Features that were previously only available in OJS 2 are now available in OJS 3, for example, PKP PN, Keywords, Payment Plugins, and so on. Some of the new plugins also have created such as Scopus and Google Citation, ROR, and other new plugins. They’re also additional plugins provided by a third-party that created for OJS 3. We can expect that it will be a great future for OJS 3 ecosystem. You can participate in the forum to know what is known to trend on OJS, OMP, or OPS here.
That’s the downside of OJS 2. But don’t worry. The PKP developers made OJS 3 to cover all these shortcomings.
Features in OJS 3 :
1. Distinct and focused interface
in OJS 3 the interface between the front-end and back-end side is separated in different layouts. The front-end interface is the display that will be accessed by most of the visitors or the display for the reader of the journal, while the back-end is the layout that will be displayed for the user who participates in OJS publication such as author, reviewer, editorial and other user roles.
By the distinct separation between front-end and back-end, each publisher can create a unique design for their journal such as using bootstrap 3 libraries or with other design ideas. These features we think are a very smart decision since any author/reviewer that intends to submit/review any article has the same user interface familiarity on every OJS 3 platform.
This also let the front-end to be designed with mobile first concept. By default OJS 3 implement the responsive design on the front-end page that create convenient to the user to explore on the journal on whatever device he use.
2. OJS 3 Rich Ecosystem
In OJS 3 more and more plugins being released either by a single developer or by some institution. Every essential plugin now is available from OJS 2 to OJS 3 version. The OJS 3 even provide more plugin than OJS 2 with very sophisticated features that can extend the functionality of your OJS.
Many of this plugin is new and only available for OJS 3. The great thing that you need to know is many of this plugin is released as a free plugin (with limited support from the developer). From JATS or full publishing plugin, PaperBuzz, Shibboleth, OpenID plugin, and more plugin now available with single click installation on OJS 3.
Some of OJS 3 Plugins provided with single click installation :
3. Stage of the submission process
OJS 3 introduces the staging process that involves the article. It will be easier for the editorial team to check or evaluate the process by article by finding what’s the stage is currently? What discussion involved in each stage? List of the comment on the process before the move to the publication process.
Like OJS 2, OJS 3 also provide email notification that will integrate easily by filling up email configuration on the config file. This email will send notification for required user of OJS on each of the article stage.
4. Enhanced Theming
OJS 3 introduces a flexible theme that easily can be extended by any developer. PKP even release the documentation for improving or developing the new OJS theme that specific to your journal. Since OJS 3.1.2-4 it improves the theme development by using the parent-child theme approach just like WordPress where the developer can extend the functionalities of a theme and create an extension for it by inherit the theme functionality and creating the required file layout for a specific page only.
Thank this feature, many of our theme in our sites such as Classy, Novelty and Academic Extended use this approach and the result are the awesome design completed with advanced functionalities that our developer creates for the OJS communities that get great benefit for using our theme.
See also : Check the success stories of our customers
5. Integrated statistic for any journal
OJS 3 now integrated many important statistical data that can be viewed by the journal manager. This feature can be used without any installation or configuration on the OJS system. Statistics for Articles, Editorial Activity, Users or even you can download the report on this feature.
Upgrading and regular maintenance of your OJS is also a signal that you try to convey to the participant of the journal that, you as a publisher have great effort on maintenance the OJS as the journal platform that will attract and build their trust to your journal.
That some of the difference and some consideration on why should you upgrade your OJS to OJS 3. If you have other ideas about the new features of OJS 3 just leave them in the comment.