A frequent topic we meet as we approach the release of Umbraco 5
is "how can I upgrade to Umbraco 5 [from Umbraco 4]". The answer is
simple - you can't. But what's even more interesting is - you
wouldn't even if you could. What you worry about is irrelevant -
it's what I call "The Upgrade Myth".
As much as many of you want the latest and greatest, the lust
isn't rational. We rarely need the new features, often not even
most of the bug fixes. This is why most Umbraco
installations aren't upgraded and haven't been the past
three years (which is how long we've been monitoring it)?
Before you jump straight to the comment fields and claim that
you do, please take a deep breath. While you may have done loads of
patch upgrades (ie. from 4.7.0 to 4.7.1) of Umbraco installations,
just how many of the sites you own or have made have been through a
minor (ie. from 4.5.0 to 4.7.0) or major (ie. from 3.0.5 to 4.5.0)
upgrade? If you say all of them, you're a minority. Less than 2%
(updated from 1%, see comments) of Umbraco sites have been through
minor or major upgrades.
This is because most sites have a lifespan of two to three
years. Best practices on the web - both conceptually and
technically - moves so fast that active sites often go through a
complete re-do in that period. That doesn't mean that you swap your
CMS or make very dramatic changes, but it's often enough to start
from scratch (although you might import parts of your existing
We'll keep supporting Umbraco 4.x
Umbraco 4 is a solid platform and the version that gave us the
major breakthrough. It'll be around for quite a while, is known by
a huge community of experts and we'll keep supporting
it with bug fixes and improvements for at least two years
after the release of Umbraco 5. Period. It is still a safe
To five or not to five
When people are asking "how can I upgrade", it's often
consultants - not end-users - who ask. And what they really ask is
"what happens to the Umbraco I know so well"? The answer is that
it's changing - for the better. The downside is that it means that
you'll need to change too.
Umbraco 5 is a whole new beginning. New underlying framework (ASP.NET MVC), new data layer (Hive)
and a re-written UI (KnockoutJS). It's
pretty bold. And maybe a little insane.
You see, we could all - core team, HQ, community - have chosen
to rest on our laurels and enjoyed the huge success that Umbraco 4
is. And while we patted each other's backs and touched glasses of
Krug we could witness how the wrinkles would appear and the energy
slowly fade away.
But we're not like that. We're a rare crowd of curious, bold,
hungry and foolish people. And Umbraco 5 is the testament.
You don't have to worry about upgrading your Umbraco site. But
it's time to upgrade yourself.