Updating a Rather Complex Site To Joomla 5.0.0
For the July 2023 issue I had written a Joomla Magazine article about my first experiences with Joomla 5.0alpha1. I started with an empty installation and tried out some features: Creating articles, installing and using extensions. Now we are in October 2023. The final release of Joomla 5.0.0 is out since October 17, 2023, as well as the “bridge release” Joomla 4.4.0. One day later, I had all my sites on J4.4.0 without significant difficulties.
My next goal was a reality check for Joomla 5.0.0!
I chose a rather complex site. The site exists since Joomla 2.5 and has gone all the way to Joomla 4.4.0, growing and getting more complex over time. Today, the site has about 400 publicly available articles, more than 50 content categories, about 900 entries in an event calendar, dozens of site modules, and a bunch of extensions of all kind. To name the most important extensions:
- Skylar_J4(template from Joomla51.com)
- Akeeba Backup
- Advanced Module Manager
- Cache Cleaner
- DB Replacer
- CCC Socialmedia
- CCC Two Click
- DWD Weather Module
- Phoca Maps
In all, this is a good selection from the JED.
My reality check for Joomla 5 started quite unspectacular: I took the backup from my J4.4.0 site, restored it in a test subdomain, and set the Joomla Update Channel to “Joomla Next”. The pre-update check immediately popped up. It looked as expected: A lot of extensions were marked “Update Information Unavailable”, three of them even got a warning message saying that they might damage the website.
Being on a test site, I bravely ignored the warnings and started the update. After some long seconds, I got the message that the version now was 5.0.0. First success: The Joomla backend was working. For the frontend, I expected an Error 500 after all those serious warnings.
But surprise: The frontend came up. The template obviously worked fine (as I would have expected from my previous testing). The event calendar looked exactly as under J4.4.0, although jEvents was one of the extensions that would “probably damage” my site. The other two candidates with that attribute also worked without issues: The controlled hyphenation using Hyphenateghsvs and the OpenGraph Plugin CCC Socialmedia.
But... what are these modules doing there?
Looking at the homepage, all the graphical elements, the menus, and the other modules looked fine. Only the content area looked funny: some custom modules displayed which shouldn't be there, like the Easter bunny.
There was an obvious suspect for that behavior: the Advanced Module Manager from Regular Labs. I assumed that something went wrong with its Conditions module. To check, I went to the Regular Labs website. There was a development release of AMM, where the changelog was about J5 and fixing conditions. I installed this pre-release version, and the Easter bunny was gone.
The development version of AMM would become version 10.0.3 at the moment of writing, on Oct. 19, 2023.
Even before I started this test, I knew that sigplus, my favorite extension for image galleries, wouldn't work under J5. Following previous tests, I had already been in contact with the extension's developer, Levente Hunyadi from Hungary. Levente was able to provide an updated version 126.96.36.1996 of sigplus, which I was able to test successfully. Levente also released the new version on Oct. 19, 2023.
Just one thing...
Everything else seems to work as expected (or hoped for)... apart from one issue: I display an external news feed on my website. This worked till J4.4.0, but after the update to J5.0.0 the feed is no longer shown. I've opened an issue in Github, but up to now, there is no clue for the reason of this misbehavior. I hope that a solution can be found very soon.
To summarize: for a website with a complexity like the given one, the result is more than encouraging.
It took me several months to make this site ready for Joomla 3 and PHP 8, removing unsupported extensions, replacing them with alternatives, waiting for extension developers to provide J4 compatible versions.
What my test shows: The update from J4 to J5 will be much smoother than the migration from J3 to J4, most probably for everybody.
I've been in IT throughout all my business life, starting with my first programming lessons (does anybody remember FORTRAN?) at Frankfurt University in the summer of 1969. Later I worked for IT companies as well as for a major German bank until I retired. I held a broad variety of job descriptions, including, but not limited to Professional Services, Systems Programming, Sales Support, Marketing, Project Management and Business Analysis.
In spite of my IT background, I was a complete newbie in website creation and maintenance, when I started by first Joomla site for a local non-profit organization –as said above– in late 2007. Slowly I got some experience and developed better knowledge in HTML, CSS and Joomla; PHP and JS have not yet been on my agenda. Although I'm still a hobbyist and don't create websites commercially, I follow German and English Joomla groups on Facebook and Mattermost, where I try to share my experiences with the Joomla community.
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Have you upgraded your Joomla 4 (or even 3) site to Joomla 5? Or created a website using https://launch.joomla.org/ (free website, free hosting)? Or installed a fresh Joomla website at your own host? We'd love to read your story! Tell us how you did it, what went smooth, what challenges you encountered and how you managed to overcome them.
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I just finished a couple of months ago the last big website migration to Joomla 4. It was a pain in the **s and cost my clients a lot of money. I build my own tailormade templates for each client and only use major extensions like Hikashop, Mosetstree, RsFormPro and Paymentform. But still it was a painful migration for most of my clients with bigger websites.
This time, the say it's just an upgrade, but I'll wait for now. Some testing with updates show there are some hikups with f.e. RsFormPro. So my clients have to wait for now. Only very basic sites I have upgraded to J5 but I'm still a little bit worried something will arise.
I hope J5 is there for a long time cause another migration in a couple of years I can't sell to my clients. They will protest that and I will too.
Hi Gasoline, if you build your own template(s), you might consider keeping informed about the latest developments in the code.
We had a couple of J3 sites with custom made templates as well (most of them inherited, so not made by us). For the simple templates we found handy tips in this article.
We decided to use Cassiopeia instead of the prehistoric templates that kept throwing errors. The sites were often easy to recreate with just Cassiopeia and custom css. Futureproof and no hassle when there's an upgrade.