How to Update Your Joomla 4 Beta Test Site

How to Update Your Joomla 4 Alpha or Beta Test Site

Are you testing new features of Joomla 4 and would like to know how to keep it up-to-date with the latest developed version? The technical term for the latest Joomla version that is still under development is "nightly build".

But here is a small issue: by default Joomla 4 installation doesn't set the Update component to Joomla nightly builds. In this tutorial, we'll show you how to set your Joomla 4 Beta 1 Update server to the latest nightly builds.

Let's get started.


Please, don't implement instructions in this tutorial on your production sites! They are intended purely for testing purposes only.

Why you would want to update a Joomla 4 Beta test site

Case scenario:

  • Recently, I installed Joomla 4 Alpha 4 to start working on making our Wright template framework ready for Joomla 4 Stable.
  • On my Alpha 4 site, I have created menus, modules, articles, and other content items, to test the Wright framework under Joomla 4.
  • Later, Joomla Production Team released Joomla 4 Alpha 5 and other new versions of a nightly build. 
  • I now need to update my existing Joomla 4 test site from Alpha 4 to Alpha 5 and new nightly builds to keep all my previous work intact.

Between these two Alpha versions, Joomla Production Team implemented many changes and bug fixes. However, there are no automatic updates between non-stable Joomla versions.

If Joomla 4 Alpha 5 would be released, one solution to update my Alpha 4 to Alpha 5 could be downloading the Alpha 5 installation pack and installing it as a brand new testing site.

This means I would have to start my testing site completely from scratch. I would need to re-create its menu items, modules, articles, and so on, from a clean slate. Not good.

Luckily, the Joomla Update component allows you to define a custom update channel and update Joomla versions that are still under development.

This allows you to update your existing Joomla 4 test site core to the latest Joomla 4 nightly builds and keep all the content items you previously created intact.

No need to install your whole nightly build of Joomla 4 Alpha 5 or newer builds from scratch. Simply keep your current Joomla core up-to-date and that's it.

Updating Joomla 4 Beta to nightly builds

The nightly builds are snapshots of the development activity for upcoming Joomla! releases. They include new features and bug fixes scheduled for these releases.

To update to the latest Joomla 4 Beta nightly build:

  • On the left side of Joomla 4 administrator panel, click "System":

click system

  • On the right side of the screen, locate the "Update" panel and click "Joomla":

click joomla

  • This will bring you to the "Joomla Update" screen. In the top-right corner, click the "Options" button:

click options

  • You will see the "Update Source" pane. Change the "Update Channel" setting from "Default" to "Custom URL":

set the update channel to custom url

  • Set the "Minumum Stability" parameter to "Beta":

set minimum stability to beta

paste custom url 

  • Click Save & Close.
  • Close the "Warning" box:

close the warning box

  • You will see the "Live Update" tab, as displayed in the image below:

the live update tab

Good job!

Everything being well, your Joomla 4 Beta test site is up-to-date! Continue keeping it up-to-date and testing it. Report any bugs you find at Github.

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About the author

Valentín creates beautiful designs from amongst the tequila plants of Jalisco, Mexico. You can see Valentín's design work all over this site and you can often find him helping members in support.