Umbraco 7 will reach its "end of life" by September 2023. That’s just a couple of months. So what does that mean for the users? No more patches, hotfixes, and general support. That translates to higher vulnerability, performance risks, and limited development perspectives. Sadly, upgrading to the latest Umbraco version is not as simple as pushing the "download" and "install" buttons. Let's answer the questions you might have.
Why is Umbraco ending support for version 7?
Umbraco 7 was released in 2013. Ten years is a lifetime for any kind of software. During that time, there were almost 50 update releases for this version, the latest one in October 2022. Since 2013 the underlying .NET technology the system is based on has also evolved. The following Umbraco platforms are built on a new framework, and the CMS provider is focusing on their further development.
Do I really have to move to the newer version of Umbraco? My website works fine as it is.
We don't know if you are into dark humor, but there is this terrible joke that applies here. A patient asks the doctor, "Do I really have to vaccinate all of my kids?" and the doctor replies, "Of course not, just the ones you want to keep." Sure, your website won't suddenly disappear in October 2023 if you do nothing. It may be fine for a significant time. But if you have plans for it and want to expand its functionality, protect your database, and keep publishing new content, you should consider migration to the more recent version of Umbraco.
What should I do to upgrade my Umbraco 7 website?
Intuition tells us that we should upgrade to the latest version of Umbraco 7 and then to the first available version of Umbraco 8 and so on, right? Unfortunately, it will take a little more than pushing a button and watching the progress bar for half an hour. According to the official Umbraco documentation, there is no direct path from Umbraco 7 to Umbraco 8 and further. The reason for it is the underlying technology. There have been fundamental updates to the codebase, and far more security measures have been implemented.
Though Umbraco 8 still uses .NET Framework, subsequent versions are based on .NET Core (.NET5, .NET6, and NET7, to be more specific). What does this shift mean? For instance, significant changes in some crucial components of your system, data types that will become obsolete, and compatibility issues with data packages. Simply put, "upgrade" is not an option in the programming sense of the word.
What are the differences between Umbraco 7 and later versions?
Some things still look the same, but there have been major and breaking shifts in code compared to Umbraco 7. Besides the move to the new .NET framework, there are changes regarding components. Client Dependency, responsible for asset bundling, is now Smidge. Image Processor has been replaced by a project called ImageSharp that works cross-platform. All these novelties mean that adapting existing code would require a lot of effort, especially in the case of complex websites.
Ok, I can't upgrade to Umbraco 8/9/10/11. So what to do?
Since moving from Umbraco 7 to a higher version is a significant technological jump, and it can’t be done by a simple upgrade wizard, “rebuilding” would be a better verb here. This may sound like a lot, but futureproofing your website will basically require rewriting the codebase and new development effort, then migrating the content (which the content migration tool implemented with Umbraco's more recent versions should help with). It’s time-consuming, for sure, and will require professional developers. But redeveloping from scratch is the only safe and efficient way of “upgrading” your Umbraco 7 site or application and keeping it secure for the future.
What am I risking by postponing migration to a newer version of Umbraco?
Umbraco is generally very secure and mostly safe from hacker attacks, so it never required that many patches. So vulnerability might not be that big of a problem if you decide to stick to Umbraco 7 for a little longer. Just keep in mind the risk always exists, and you won’t be able to count on Umbraco support anymore.
But there is also a scalability factor. Using an outdated version of the system will very much limit developers from expanding and improving your website over time. Dealing with legacy technologies also becomes more time-consuming and expensive, so sooner or later, you will have to consider rebuilding anyway.
We are a Certified Umbraco Partner with Umbraco professionals on board, so if you have any specific questions regarding the development of your website, we will gladly address them during your free consultation.