Last week, Alan Langford wrote a blog post called When Should You Upgrade Your Joomla 1.5 Site? In my opinion, the post was spot on. It addressed some of the reasons people post-pone upgrading their Joomla sites. He also highlighted the important reasons for upgrading to a newer version of Joomla.
Why are you still reading this, by the way? Go upgrade your Joomla 1.5 sites now. As Alan said: Seriously!
In this post, I'll go through some aspects of upgrading a site from 1.5 to a later Joomla version.
I received a question regarding this from a user recently. He asked when the «real end-of-life for Joomla» was. Like many users, the thought of upgrading his site wasn’t a tempting one. Particularly after reading some of the horror stories floating around the web from people who have tried upgrading complex Joomla 1.5 sites. It can be a daunting task if you use a lot of installed extensions, custom-built extensions and templates.
End-of-life is over-due
If you are still in doubt: End-of-life for Joomla 1.5 is here already. The Joomla project stopped supporting the version in december 2012. The reasons in Alan’s post alone are important enough to encourage you to upgrade. In addition to the fact that your web host will upgrade PHP and / or mySQL in the near future, they might also ask that you shut down your 1.5 site entirely. If the web host is a serious one, they will at some point (if not already) see a Joomla 1.5 site as a potential security risk. I have already heard about companies getting warnings from their hosts about this.
Also, most extension developers have abandoned further development of Joomla 1.5 versions of their products. That means that even if there is a bug (or security risk) in the software, it won't be fixed.
My take on this: It's better to do the migration now, before your host (or client) screams at you to do it.
Things to consider when migrating a Joomla 1.5 site
In my experience, these are some of the things you need to think about before you start migrating your site:
- Are all of the extensions I use necessary for the user experience and usability of the site?
- Can some functions of installed extensions be covered by new features in Joomla?
- If the template is a commercial one, is there an updated version of the template available?
- Does the site have a lot of content? If so, using SP Upgrade or another migration tool may be the best solution.
- Does the site have a small amount of content (30-50 articles) and modules? If so, you might be better off by moving the content manually.
- Are all of the extensions you intend to use available for Joomla 2.5 og 3.x (whichever you decide on using)?
- Can you get help from extension developers (free or paid) to transfer info from the older version? In the case of Redshop, this is what I did for my site. I paid the developers to do the migration for me from VirtueMart on Joomla 1.5 to Redshop on Joomla 2.5.
Selling the upgrade to your client
If you're like me, you're selling Joomla web sites to clients. You need to convince the clients that the upgrade is a good thing, and that it's part of using open source, free software. Some selling points:
- Joomla is free to use, but you need to upgrade to the latest versions to stay secure.
- The new version will let you serve mobile users better (if needed, produce stats from Google Analytics to show how many users they have from tablets / mobile).
- At some point (soon), the web host won't be able to host the site anymore. It's better to do it now in a controlled fashion than be forced to do it later.
- Newer versions of extensions can't be installed on the site (missing out on functionality).
- Newer versions of Joomla are faster and a faster web site will get better rankings in Google.
- Joomla 3 has a simpler, more efficient and responsive admin (edit your site from a smartphone)
- Better built-in search
- Unlimited nesting of content categories, tags and other new features
- Every time you log into a Joomla 1.5 site, a kitten dies.
Nowadays, I have included a section in my contracts stating that the client agrees to keep the site updated with security issues. For minor updates I include the update in my hosting fee. For larger upgrades, they get a proposal and I perform the work after they agree. This way, the client is informed that there are going to be upgrades in the future and that they are expected to pay if this involves anything more than a backup and a one-click upgrade.
What migration tool to use?
I recommend using SP Upgrade to migrate your site to Joomla 2.5 or 3.x. I have tested migrating sites to both versions and I’m happy with the results. This was also the «weapon of choice» for most people attending the session about «Migration migraines» at J and Beyond 2013 (see video below). It works well and produces consistent results. I did have some minor trouble with time-outs, but that was on a site with thousands of articles. I talked to the developer of SP Upgrade (who answered my email really quickly) and once I migrated the site in batches everything was fine.
SP Upgrade also makes it easy to keep your existing URLs after migrating. There is always some manual clean-up after a migration. You should spend some time going through every aspect of your site to see if everything has been migrated correctly. There are other tools available, but SP upgrade is what I recommend as of now.
Still reading? Go upgrade your sites!