The Joomla! Community Magazine™

Help! With 1.7 Out and 2.5 Just In, What Should I Do? Upgrade or Wait?

Written by | Wednesday, 01 February 2012 00:00 | Published in 2012 February
With the new 2.5 release comfortably settling in and the old 1.7 one almost at the end of its life, many site builders and users are asking what they should be doing next and what decisions they should be making regarding the update and maintenance of their websites. I was able to speak with quite a few Joomla! folks on the subject and got great feedback that I would like to share below.
Upgrade or Upgrade Not? Upgrade or Upgrade Not?

I would also like to thank Andrea Tarr (she helped with questions 3, 4, and 5), Dianne Henning, Hagen Graf, Jacques Rentzke (he provided the content for questions 5 and 6), Jen Kramer (she wrote the answer to question 4 and helped address question 2), Marijke Stuivenberg, and Peter Martin for their support and guidance. Here is what I was able to compile - I tried to present what I got in an easy-to-follow Q&A format, hoping that you will find the content useful and relevant enough to help you with your impending Joomla-related migration decisions.

1. I just finished building a couple of Joomla! 1.7 sites. Should I upgrade to 2.5 now or should I wait? How hard will it be to move a site from 1.7 to 2.5?

ANSWER: Even though 2.5 is a “brand new” release, think of it as 1.7 with 300+ bug fixes and great new features. Both devs and experienced site builders recommend that you upgrade immediately — there is no reason to wait. There is a one-click process for performing this, described in detail here:

Additionally, it is expected that almost all 1.7 version components will work with the new 2.5 release. Many developers have already updated their components to be 2.5 compatible. Here is a list, which includes Docman, JCE, EasyBlog, Art Gallery, ACL Manager and others:

As always, make a complete backup of your site before upgrading, and test thoroughly after the upgrade is done.

2. Only one month between the 2.5 launch and 1.7 support retirement? That is not a long time at all and may be a major inconvenience for a lot of my clients who have not budgeted to upgrade their sites so soon. What to do?

ANSWER: The reality is that the jump from Joomla 1.7 to 2.5 is not a major version change — despite the version numbers which suggest otherwise. Joomla 2.5 was originally referred to as “Joomla 1.8”, which better describes the size of change between the two versions of Joomla. As mentioned above, Joomla 2.5 is Joomla 1.7 with 300+ bug fixes and a host of new features. There should be very few issues in migrating your site from one version to the other. 

3. I am currently running a 1.6 site. How hard will it be to migrate to to 2.5?

ANSWER: The process should be pretty straightforward. The recommendation is to update to 1.7 first and then to move to 2.5:

4. I am currently running several 1.5 sites. Should I update to 2.5 now or is it better to wait?

NOTE: The support for Joomla 1.5 will end in April 2012, but it will be monitored for security issues until September 2012 to give users enough time to plan and implement their move to Joomla 2.5. Major security issues will be addressed appropriately and patches will be provided accordingly until the release of Joomla 3.0 in September 2012.

ANSWER: Many developers point to Joomla 1.0 and note that it seems to be a solid, stable system, without security issues at this point in time. The same could be true with Joomla 1.5, but are you willing to bet the security of your website on this? If your website is hacked, and no security fixes are in place, are you willing to hire a developer to fix your site, including de-hacking the site and fixing the security vulnerability? Are you okay with your site being down for some period of time while this happens? Do you have the money set aside to spend on an immediate upgrade?

Remember also, that your site also contains extensions. Extensions are maintained by their individual developers. At some point in time, developers will discontinue support for their extensions. This means that extensions may eventually become security risks, without patching. Developers are also likely to stop supporting new features for their Joomla 1.5 extensions, so you will have fewer options for adding functionality to your website over time.

Finally, Joomla continues to keep up with new updates in PHP and MySQL. Older versions of Joomla may not be compatible with newer versions of PHP and MySQL. This means you must find a specialized host willing to run older software to keep your website functioning. Joomla 1.0 sites have broken when PHP has been upgraded by the host. You can expect that, at some point in the future, a PHP upgrade may break your Joomla 1.5 website, once you are past the April 2012 end of life date.

In 2012, sites using Joomla 1.0 find it difficult to add new features or expand functionality they already have. Furthermore, there is no clear migration path from Joomla 1.0 to Joomla 2.5. They can migrate from 1.0 to 1.5, then 1.5 to 2.5, or they can rebuild the site from the ground up.

It is unlikely that there will be a clear migration path from Joomla 1.5 to Joomla 3.0 either.

Therefore, to keep your site “future forward”, it is strongly recommended you migrate your Joomla 1.5 site to Joomla 2.5 sometime soon.

Your Joomla 1.5 site will continue to function the way it has always functioned come April 2012. Your site will not stop working. However, it’s strongly recommended you budget for a Joomla 2.5 migration as soon as possible. Think of your migration from Joomla 1.5 to 2.5 as an excellent opportunity to revisit your website and how it’s working for you:

  • Is the site mobile compatible? If you built your site more than a year ago, it’s likely that you have no mobile version available. This is a great opportunity to add mobile features to your site.
  • Does your site support the latest web browsers? It’s possible your site was built before Chrome became a popular browser.
  • Is all of the content current and up to date? What should you keep? What should you remove, as out of date or redundant? What doesn’t fit into the current organization of the site? Is it time to rework your navigation to make finding information easier?
  • Are all of the features on your site still needed, or has your organization’s requirements changed? Do you need new, additional features? Can you remove any existing features as they are no longer needed? Joomla has added some great new functionalities to its core, so it’s possible you can get rid of one or several extensions you previously used.

Here is a great article which sheds light on some important questions you should keep in mind when preparing clients for Joomla 2.5.

5. How hard will it be to migrate from 1.5 to 2.5?

ANSWER:

  • Most of the site builders and devs I spoke with mentioned that the move from 1.5 to 2.5 could be a tad tricky and it all depends on the complexity of the site and the number of third-party extensions you are using. Heavily-customized websites will obviously require more time and more due diligence.
  • Simple sites that feature mostly article content and use primarily Joomla’s core features will be easy to handle. Here is the process as explained by Hagen Graf in his Beginner Guide to Joomla 2.5 - upgrading from older versions.
  • Tools that can help automate the upgrade process: jUPgrade(free, requires registration) and SPupgrade(commercial). 
    • The way jUpgrade works: install it on your Joomla 1.5 website and then do the upgrade. It will change the database structure and download the 2.5 files. 
    • The way SPupgrade works: install it on a new Joomla 2.5 website and retrieve data from old 1.5 site (submit database credentials of 1.5 MySQL database).
  • If you get stuck, you can ask for help on the Joomla Forum, in the Migrating and Upgrading to Joomla! 2.5 section. Community volunteers provide free advice here.
  • Should you require more dedicated support with your upgrade, you could contact one of the consultants or companies listed in the Joomla! Resources Directory

6. What about the 1.5 extensions I'm using — how do I upgrade those?

The best route is to identify the relevant extension versions that will accomodate your move to 2.5 first. Your extensions may need to be updated to the latest version before adding them to your newly updated website. To verify the right way to approach this, contact your extension developer or post a question on their forum. Follow any steps recommended by the developer and remember to always test before uploading on your live site.

7. What if my favorite 1.5 extension does not support 2.5 ?

If the extension supports 1.6 or 1.7, then it most likely supports 2.5 too. Check with the extension dev to make sure. If the developer informs you that they have no plans to make the extension compatible with 2.5 within the next 6 months, then you should consider finding an alternative on the Joomla Extensions Directory (JED). (There are more than 8,000 extensions listed on the JED, so you should be able to find an alternative.)

8. What are the tangible benefits of moving to 2.5?

ANSWER: Here are several articles that will help you to learn more about Joomla 2.5’s new features and functionality enhancements:

9. I would like to receive more feedback regarding the 2.5 upgrade and how others have done it. Where do I go?

ANSWER: Joomla forums are the best place to discuss migration processes and get feedback:

Hoping that the above Q&A provided you with the answers you were looking for, please do not hesitate to drop me a line and add more questions to the list.

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