Software Is Continually Upgraded
This had to come…. But now the time is here.
You should consider upgrading the software on your website, from the present version of Joomla to the latest version of Joomla.
The details, continued below (click on the "Read More" link), should explain everything, but if you have any queries, please contact me via email by using the "Contact Us" link on this website.
Please note that this is quite a long article, and perhaps a little technical in parts, but I think it is worth taking the time to read it.
The Nature Of Your Website
Your website is built using a piece of software called Joomla.
I maintain that this is arguably the best Content Management System (CMS) available today for the construction of websites, although of course some people will argue with this.
Your website is constructed from the core software (Joomla), plus one or more "extensions", which provide additional and more specific functionality (eg Project Management, TimeSheeting, eCommerce, Graphics, etc, etc).
The core software (Joomla), is a free product, but the extensions are third-party products which are developed independently, and many of which are commercial in that they have to be paid for.
It is notable that most of these extensions are designed for a specific version of Joomla, and most will not work with other versions of Jomla.
So your website has been built using a combination of the core software and the extensions.
And I trust you will agree that it all works pretty well!
The Nature Of Software Version Releases
As is the case with all software vendors, Joomla has a policy on the release of new versions of the software.
Basically, there are Major Releases, and Minor Releases.
Major Releases (or "LTS" in Joomla terminology)
A major release, or LTS (Long Term Support), can be regarded almost as a completely new version of the software, and not compatible with previous versions (this is not always true, but can be accepted for the purposes of this discussion).
Major releases occur periodically, say every 2-4 years.
In most cases, the major release radically changes the core software. It is virtually a new product
Note that extensions designed for one major release version of the core software, often will not work with a newer version.
A minor release is simply fixes for a variety of purposes, such as bug fixes, security fixes, minor functionality changes etc.
The minor release does not radically change the core software, it is simply maintenance.
Minor releases occur on an on-going basis as required.
As a matter of course, I apply all minor releases to your website as they become available. This is done without reference to you, and ensures that your site remains as current and secure as it can be.
Vendor Support For Releases
As with all software developers, support for a previous major product is abandoned soon after the next major release.
In the case of Joomla, this is 3 months after the major release.
This is both understandable, and acceptable. Vendors would rather invest time and effort in the current product, than an old one.
This approach also prompts users to migrate to the current version, making things easier for all concerned.
Joomla Version Release History
1.5 (LTS, or Major)
2.5 (LTS or Major)
3.5 (LTS or Major)
The table above outlines the release history of Joomla to date.
So What Does All This Mean?
You are using version 1.5, which as you can see from the table above, will no longer be supported after this year. This means that no further development will occur at all on this version (including minor security releases), and more importantly, that extension developers will no longer develop or support their extensions for this version.
This should not unduly concern you. You website and its extensions will work as it has always done.
There is no real issue here.
Joomla 1.5 was released on January 22, 2008. The latest release of this version was 1.5.26 on March 27, 2012. This version was the first to attain long term support (LTS). LTS versions are released each three major or minor releases and are supported until three months after the next LTS version is released.
Joomla 1.6 and 1.7 (see important note below), were released on January and July, 2011. This was supposed to be a LTS, or Major Release, but was plagued with problems, to the extent that they were both dropped within months of their release. They are now no longer supported, and are effectively "dead'.
Joomla 2.5 was released on January 24, 2012, six months after 1.7.0. This version is a long term support (LTS) release. Originally this release was to be 1.8.0, however the developers announced August 9 that they would rename it to fit into a new version number scheme in which every LTS release is an X.5 release. This version was the first to run on other databases besides MySQL.
Important Note :
These two versions ( Joomla 1.6 and 1.7), were absolute disasters when they were released, so much so, that support for both of them has ceased completely.
Many people upgraded to these versions as soon as they were released, and suffered major issues.
This is why I never upgrade immediately. I prefer to wait for 6-9 months, to allow other people to find and iron out the bugs before I unleash something new on my clients.
Should You Upgrade To The Latest Version?
This of course is the 64 Million dollar question.
Why You Should Not Upgrade
- No real pressing need to do so - version 1.5 (yours), is well established, tested and stable. Your website will continue to work, exactly as it always has
- It may be easier to do the upgrade in a few months (say Dec 2012), than now, once people have ironed out the issues
- You will get no added functionality which will be apparent to you, simply from the upgrade
- There will be added functionality in regards to back end functions, like security etc, but these may not be obvious to you
- It will cost you, in both time (mine), and money(yours), (as indicated in my email), just to do the upgrade
- If you wanted extra functionality, that is a different matter, and will be costed separately (though could be combined with an upgrade at a reduced rate)
- Some of your extensions may or may not be compatible with the newer core version, though this is unlikely to be the case
- If the extension is not compatible, you will have to seek a replacement or not perform the upgrade
- Currently there are more extensions available for version 1.5 than for version 2.5
- This is probably not an issue for you. If you are not using these extensions now, you probably won't want to use them in the future
- The extensions for version 1.5 are tried and proven.
- This is not always the case for extensions associated with version 2.5. Again, if you are not using them now, this is an irrelevant point
Why You Should Upgrade
- No impact to your website operation - no pressure to "get it done now" - you can do it whenever you like (within reason)
- You existing website will remain fully operational until you are satisfied that the new one is working as expected
- You control the timing of the upgrade, and it can be done in a test environment, where you can take as much time as you want to thoroughly test all aspects of the site.
- Functionality - there will be new features which will be beneficial (you might not notice these though, as they may be mostly in the Administration area)
- Upgrades (to new versions like 3.5, 4.5 etc), will be easier
- More features will be available (like support for mobile devices (phones, tablets etc)
- Security - greatly improved internal security functionality.
- From now onwards, security releases for 1.5 will no longer be available. This leaves your website vulnerable to newly discovered security exploits.
- Stagnation - harder / more expensive to add new features to the existing version 1.5
- As each new version of Joomla! becomes available, extension developers focus their programming efforts on newer versions and phase out support for older versions. This means that extensions will become harder to find or may not be available at all. So, the addition of a needed feature may require custom development, which can be expensive
- Technology Obsolescence - Not a great danger, but is worth thinking about
- Technology is continually being changed and improved. As newer versions of software arrive, older versions will begin to phase out. Hosting providers will begin migrating to the improved platforms, which may force you do do an upgrade at a time not convenient to you
- Better facilities and features
- It should be taken as read that a major upgrade will provide more and better features, both in the front-end (the public site), and the back-end (the site management area)
- This note is not the place to discuss these features, but should you have any queries on this, please contact me.
- Improved Search Engine Optimisation
- Joomla! has come a long way in terms of its in-built SEO facilities. This is a vital aspect of any website, but sadly, one which is not attended to well, or even at all by many clients.
- Better SEO means it is easier for searchers to find your website. More visitors to your site, continues to push it up in terms of Google rankings,
- The higher you are ranked, the more opportunity you have in terms of getting business from your visitors.
- Better "Back-End" facilities
- Every new release improves functionality in the management and administration back end of your site.
- This makes it easier for you to manage (if you are doing it yourself), or less costly (if I am doing it on your behalf)
- Easier "One-Click" upgrades
- The in-built update process has been greatly improved in the latest version, providing greater benefits in functionality and security.
- Minor release upgrades are now much easier to perform
Can Anything Go Wrong?
Of course it can, just ask "Murphy"…… but there is no risk for you here.
I am as sure as I can be that you will not experience any loss of data or functionality. We will however, plan for the worst.
The upgrade will be performed in a test environment, ie will not be "live" to the internet until we are satisfied that all is OK.
Immediately prior to going live with the new version, your existing version 1.5 site will be fully backed up and retained. In this way, you can always revert to this backup in the case of an unexpected issue.
Of course, new data added (to the new site), from the date of backup may not be available if we have to revert to this.
This is unlikely to be the case though, as we should be able to extract the data added to the newer version, before restoring the older version.
Then we restore the older version and apply the updates forward from that point. So everything should be safe………….. but then, there is always "Murphys Law'.
So, What's The Bottom Line?
That, I'm afraid, is your call. You don't have to do it. Everything will be fine, and will work as it always has.
With all major update releases for Joomla 1.5 stopping in September 2012, there will be a point where you will have to upgrade your site whether you want to or not, otherwise it will be ticking time bomb for hackers.
If your website gets hacked, it may take time and effort to recover it, with the chance of it getting hacked again still remaining.
Upgrading will give you a better product generally, (subject to the comments above), but you need to think it through in terms of your own circumstances.
If it was my decision though, then I would go ahead and do the upgrade.
Please don't hesitate to contact me if you have any queries.