In October 2009, I wrote a blog post about migrating a Joomla! 1.5 site to version 1.6. I gave it the ambitious title of Migration from Joomla 1.5 to 1.6 will be easy. And it probably will. When the script is ready.
However, Joomla 1.6 was released this week without a migration script in place. When I started to look at the state of this script, it seemed everything stopped back in 2009. Apparently, there was little interest from developers to create this script.
After some digging, I contacted Matias Aguirre, the one who started the original discussion around a Joomla 1.6 migrator script. He responded immediately, and I got some more info on the script. Matias has been working on a script called jUpgrade. It's partially working, but he needs help finishing it.
Concerned users are looking for an upgrade tool
Some users of Joomla 1.5 have expressed their concern, and actually anger (!) about Joomla 1.6 being released without a migrator.
As much as I agree that the migrator should be released at the same time as Joomla 1.6, there are several factors to consider:
- Joomla 1.6 has just been released - it's not yet stable for live sites. So the migration of Joomla 1.5 site can and should wait a while longer.
- Your Joomla 1.5 site is just fine as it is. Forcing an upgrade at this point will not make the users of your website any happier. Relax and let 1.6 mature a bit.
- Upgrading from Joomla 1.5 to 1.6 is not like upgrading from 1.5.21 to 1.5.22.
Lots of things have changed.
- Joomla 1.5 will be supported for another 15 months (at least).
- There won't be a cure-all solution to migrate any site. Every Joomla 1.5 site is unique, and depending on installed extensions, the process can be simple or extremely complex.
- If you absolutely need to migrate, you can always hire someone to create SQL scripts to port your solution to 1.6.
- Templates and extensions will need to be updated, so for most of the sites out there, an upgrade to 1.6 will not be realistic for a while anyway.
- Somebody has to write, test and document the script - on their own time, for free, for the common good. When did you contribute any of your time to Joomla? We can't demand anything - but be grateful for the huge effort the Joomla developers and other volunteers put into Joomla.
Should the migrator be part of the Joomla 1.6 install?
I don't think so. Because it's only used once, it shouldn't be part of the core package. A wile ago, I wrote a post called Should the Joomla be light-weight or feature-rich?. I still believe the Joomla core should be as light as possible. A built-in migrator would bloat the Joomla package and will not be of any use to those installing Joomla 1.6 for the first time.
In my opinion, the migrator should rather be available as a separate download like the jUpgrade script. For me, it doesn't matter if the script has the 'official' Joomla label on it or not. As long as it does the job - who cares?
Is a migrator an easy script to make?
Obviously not. There are many challenges that arise from creating a migrator script for Joomla.
There are issues with the jUpgrade script, and it needs to be more user-friendly, more stable and better documented.
Hagen Graf has set up a page about upgrading from Joomla 1.5 to 1.6, where he looks at the available options.
I talked to Matias about jUpgrader and the process around creating a migrator script for Joomla 1.5 to 1.6 sites. He has done a great job so far, but he will really need some help finishing the script. He did get some help from other Joomla developers in the past, but he will need more help if this script is going to be a really usable one:
Matias, I noticed you were the one starting the discussion around the migration script back in 2009. What happened after this discussion ended?
It really all started when the Joomla version 1.5 was released and there was a big lack of a tool to help users migrate their data from one version to another. While Sam Moffatt was working on a tool for this migration, the had certainly been busy on other matters of internal development of Joomla. Then I decided to create mtwMigrator, which had a great acceptance in the community at that time.
With the development of Joomla 1.6 running I had the opportunity to help the project, using all these techniques I had learned to develop mtwMigrator. After a discussion with the developers I came to the conclusion that they'd be too busy in the development of Joomla 1.6 and that the best way to help was to do something myself. That's when jUpgrade was born.
What kind of help will you need to make this solution a stable, usable solution for any user?
Any help is welcome. Many users came to the forums of my site to show their problems. We can use this when solving issues in jUpgrade - and eventually end up with a stable migrator.
Joomla is a very powerful and very customizable CMS with extensions developed by third parties. These do not always follow programming standards or default database structures. Joomla is highly configurable and this makes it difficult to cover all aspects of migration.
We must also highlight the problems of compatibility of servers (Apache / IIS), PHP version issues, problems with versions of MySQL and most difficult of all, the problems of compatibility between browsers.
All this makes it a long task and with many obstacles.
Anything else you want to add?
The only thing I have to add is gratitude. First with the Joomla developers who gave me their support since the beginning and for creating this wonderful free tool that is Joomla 1.6. As a programmer I might be able to see some points that end-users are not able to fully appreciate yet.
I think Joomla 1.6 has a huge potential. I am proud of belonging to their community and that my tools can help everyone.
How to help finish jUpdater
If you want to contribute to jUpdater and help finish this migrator for Joomla 1.6, there are several things that need to be done:
- Help write the actual code
- Test and report bugs
- Write documentation
- Find other people who can help
If you can help in any way, contact Matias:
- The jUpdater forum