Umbraco 7 to Umbraco 8 - a developer’s perspective
Umbraco 8 is finally nearing a release (spoiler alert: sorry, you won’t find a release date in this blog post 😉 ) and we acknowledge that this may bring up both joy as well as some questions for you as a developer.
You are probably already aware of all the great new features in Umbraco 8, but when you as a developer get asked what this entails in regard to the work you are doing, it becomes a bit more complicated. The good news is that it doesn’t have to be.
That’s why I will dig a bit deeper in this blog post to try and address some of the worries you may have - and then hopefully convert these worries into even more joy and excitement for the upcoming release!
Claus (right) is the team lead of the Umbraco Core team at Umbraco HQ
Some of the common questions I've been hearing as we are approaching the official release of Umbraco 8 are:
- Will I be able to upgrade my existing site?
- Should I upgrade my existing site?
- What happens if I don't upgrade?
- How will the new major structural changes affect my site?
- When released, is it ready for usage?
- What about Umbraco 8 on Umbraco Cloud?
I’ve addressed these questions in this “Umbraco 8 QnA”:
Will I be able to upgrade?
The short answer is no - but you will be able to migrate!
The migration process is a bit different to a normal upgrade since this is a major version with a lot of changes done to the CMS.
We will handle upgrading your database to ensure that all of your content is migrated from the old database schema to the new one using migrations.
What we will not be able to handle though is all your 3rd party packages, custom code and templates that are built for your Umbraco 7 sites.
For that reason, our suggested migration path will be that you temporarily disable all of your existing Umbraco 7 code and then simply start out by upgrading your database schema with a blank Umbraco 8 site.
When this is done, you should start adding back all your existing code and templates in smaller chunks, rebuilding libraries and fixing up what has been changed or moved until you get to the point where you have fully migrated your site to Umbraco 8.
Update after the release of 8.1:
As promised, Umbraco 8.1 contains migrations necessary to get your Umbraco 7 content converted to Umbraco 8 format. The whole process of content migration is described in the documentation on Our Umbraco for both Umbraco Cloud and stand-alone Umbraco. On our YouTube channel you can also find videos describing the Cloud migration process.
Should I migrate?
Absolutely yes - you should migrate!
Umbraco 8 is a major release which has allowed us to finally do a lot of all the changes we've been wanting to do for so long. It’s a version where we welcome 3 new major features: Infinite Editing, Content Apps and Variants. Features that’ll change the way you and your editors work with Umbraco.
Umbraco 8 will also be way faster as we've gotten rid of a lot of legacy allowing us to simplify the codebase and the way you work with the CMS and APIs.
Whether migrating your site is a small or large amount of work will, of course, be heavily dependant on how complicated your site is and the amount of custom code you have. If you are depending on 3rd party packages, you will also need to ensure that these will actually work with Umbraco 8 before attempting to migrate.
We do, however, promise you that it will be worth it! When you’re on Umbraco 8 you will see many new and helpful improvements on both the exterior (backoffice) and the interior (everything behind the scenes) parts of the CMS. Improvements that will help you create even better digital solutions for yourself and for your clients!
Is Umbraco 7 getting discontinued?
While it is no secret that Umbraco 8 currently has high priority and will be the primary version for any new feature functionality going forward, we will also keep working on improvements for Umbraco 7. So if you decide to postpone migrating your site, you will not be left behind.
What will change?
You may have some concerns as to what has changed and how this will affect your existing site.
And yes, things will change. With Umbraco 8 we've had the opportunity to make a ton of changes to improve your experience of working with Umbraco as a developer.
We've made improvements that are easy to adopt and others that will take a bit more work - but they are all improvements that you will benefit from once you get familiar with them.
Migrating your site will enable you to make use of the great new features such as Variants and Infinite Editing. While we highly encourage you to use these, you don’t have to. You will be able to migrate your site and use it like you always have and you can then gradually start using the new features when they make sense to you.
Also, at API level there are new changes in Umbraco 8. While we’ve had a focus on limiting API changes for easy adoption, some new changes are introduced in order to improve usage and functionality.
Is it ready to use?
With the initial release of Umbraco 8 coming up very soon, a common question is: "Is it really ready for production or should I wait to use it?"
The answer: It is ready - you don’t have to wait!
We would not be releasing Umbraco 8 if we did not think that the product was ready to use. It is, however, not a secret that we have had to make some tough decisions as to what should stay and what should go for the initial release.
With this said, it is though important to note that we strongly believe that the initial release of Umbraco 8 is way better than Umbraco 7. That is why we with great confidence encourage you to start using Umbraco 8 from day one.
And as always, in the spirit of open source and Umbraco, we value your feedback. So when you start using Umbraco 8, please make sure to pitch in and voice your opinion right from the beginning. It will be much easier for you to shape this into a CMS that fit your needs if you do it early in the process.
What about Umbraco 8 on Umbraco Cloud?
Umbraco Cloud will, of course, be supporting Umbraco 8.
When creating new projects, you will be presented with the choice of going with either Umbraco 7 or Umbraco 8. This way it is up to you to decide what you think is the best fit for your project to start out with (but why not go Umbraco 8 now you’re starting from scratch anyway? 😉).
This QnA has hopefully answered many of your questions. Umbraco 8 is both founded on the success and stability of Umbraco 7 but it's also a major step forward in terms of new functionalities as well as new technological improvements to the platform. We don’t hide the fact that it might take some work to migrate - but we are also not shy to tell you that it will be worth it for you!
More technical documentation to help you with the migration process etc. will be ready on Our Umbraco alongside the official release (there’s already some Umbraco 8 documentation on Our if you are curious!).
Now there’s nothing left for you to do than to wait for the big launch. But if you can’t wait, and if you want a bit more information about Umbraco 8, why not learn about one of the 3 big features in Umbraco 8: “Infinite Editing”. In this blog post, you’ll also find a link that will guide you to the latest nightly build of Umbraco 8 so you can get your hands and eyes on Umbraco 8 today!