Sunsetting Umbraco 7: Your Path to Upgrading

Content management systems — like all software applications — are living, breathing systems of code and design. Here's what to do to ensure your Umbraco install doesn't fall behind as Version 7 is sunsetted in 2023.

9/13/2022

Categorized

  • Umbraco
  • Development

Content management systems — like all software applications — are living, breathing systems of code and design. They are built with the intention of constantly improving. They are upgradable, and they are patchable.

These upgrades and patches are important. They help introduce new features, and squash software bugs. They identify issues that may not have been apparent at launch, and they solve new security issues. They are key to keeping your system fit and running smoothly.

But what happens when you’re not doing those small, incremental upgrades? What if, through a combination of a lack of resources and a lack of time, you find yourself too far behind the upgrade cycle?

For those using Umbraco Version 7, this is coming to a head over the next year. In this post, we’ll talk through what “end of life” means for Umbraco Version 7, and provide some insight as to your next steps.

What’s happening with Version 7?

Umbraco — like any software company — follows a product roadmap toward the future of the software. This product roadmap helps them time out when new releases are going to surface, and provides guidance posts for staying on track and ahead of the curve.

This roadmap also includes diverting resources away from older versions of the product. In Umbraco’s words, “we can’t support all Umbraco versions forever.”

This means Umbraco Version 7 is heading toward what’s commonly referred to as “End of Life” — it will no longer be supported.

If you’ve upgraded past version 7, you’re in the clear! (For now.) But if you’re still running Umbraco Version 7, you’re about to run into some significant issues.

What this means is:

  • Umbraco 7 is currently in a security-only phase. The only issues that are addressed will be those that help protect against security issues. This means any new feature that’s being rolled out on the CMS will not see the light of day on Version 7.
  • More than that, it means an end date has been set —specifically, September 2023. At that point, even the security fixes will be turned off. Forever.

Thankfully, you’ve got time. About a year, at least. So, it’s time for next steps.

Reassess your content management ecosystem

Web strategy and development take time, and if you’re on Umbraco Version 7, you only have about a year from the date of this article going live — September 2023 is your deadline.

For this reason, the first thing you should do — before even thinking about an upgrade — is to reassess and make decisions on where you are now and where you want to be. Review organizational goals, and confirm that your current site still helps you reach those goals. Gather ‘round your web steering committee and your technology partners and IT and ask a few high-level questions:

  • Is the current content model and structure still serving your business needs? Or is it time to rebuild and redesign from the ground up?
  • Do you have the time and capacity for a full rebuild or redesign? Is a 
  • Does Umbraco as a system still integrate with your newer technology and tools? Is there a need to dive even deeper and reassess the content management system itself?
  • Is an upgrade or rebuild part of a larger push for digital transformation — specificlaly, are there digital asset management tools or customer relationship management tools that need to be considered?

If you’re looking for something completely overhauled, an upgrade might not make sense just yet — in fact, you’re talking about a full web project. (You’re in luck — we’ve got just the chapter to help you make these decisions.)

However, for the sake of this article, let’s assume you’re happy with your current site — that there are no problems, and that the content model and design are still fresh and useful. The next step is to look into upgrading your Umbraco instance.

Upgrade your Umbraco site

There are technically three options when it comes to making the upgrade — though, we only really recommend one of them.

Stay on Version 7 without support.

We do not recommend this, and neither does Umbraco. The benefits of ongoing support alone — bug fixes, patches, and security updates — make it crucial that those on Version 7 make the jump to a supported version. But, on top of that, an unsupported version also begins to lose any third-party support, if it hasn’t already — plugins and extensions will begin moving beyond the out-of-date version, potentially rendering major functionality on your site completely obsolete.

Again, we do not recommend this.

Upgrade to the next version (Version 8).

While it might seem like moving to Version 8 is the easiest option, we do not recommend this option either.

Simply put, upgrading to the next version is kicking a dented can further down the road. Version 8 will be the next version to go out of date, and the time savings to move to Version 8 won’t make up for the full upgrade you’ll need to do later.

If you want to keep the same system —the same content, the same document types, with no changes

Upgrade to the newest version (Version 10)

Obviously, in terms of quality and security, making the full upgrade to the current version is the best option. Of course, it’s not as easy as pushing a button — there are two ways to make the upgrade.

First, if you need to upgrade content and document types with no changes, you’ll actually make three individual upgrades.

Major moves from version to version come with their own upgrade paths — the move from 7 to 8, the move from 8 to 9, and so on. Essentially, upgrading from Version 7 to Version 10 is less of a simple upgrade and more of a series that looks like this:

  • Download specific versions of Version 8 and apply database updates at those versions.
  • Download Version 9 and apply database updates.
  • Download Version 10 and apply database updates. It’s at this point that custom code and templates are upgraded for .NET 6 and Umbraco 10 as well.

On the other hand, you can skip the three upgrades and rebuild the site on Version 10. In this scenario, you’ll create a new repository for Version 10 — with a new database and content structure. A note: if some content is migrated from the old site, there will be a need for custom migration from sections of the old site into the new.

Either of these two options is going to be more labor-intensive than simply upgrading to 8 or leaving it altogether, but it’s also the only future viable option. Not only are you moving toward a more secure tool — one that garners a ton of attention from both the community and Umbraco itself — but you’re also getting:

  • All of the improvements to editor and admin user interfaces
  • Every new feature that’s been released, and all of those future features as well
  • A system that runs faster and smoother, allowing it to run on a cheaper system

Plan accordingly — and early — in order to make sure you get an upgrade under the deadline.

Go forth and upgrade

An upgrade may only scratch the surface of what you need done — again, you may find a need to update content, design, workflows, and maybe even move some internal people around to focus on a new site. But the upgrade is the bare minimum to keeping your site safe, functional, and in tune with your organization’s goals.

If you’re on Umbraco Version 7, it’s time to get off. Talk to your technology people and develop a plan for the future. Otherwise, Version 7’s end-of-life may hamper the abilities of one of your most important communication tools — your website.

Blend Interactive is an Umbraco partner.

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