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A Guide to Migrating from Umbraco v8 to v13

Best practices and a step by step guide for migration.

Keeping your content management system (CMS) up to date is vital for optimal performance, security, and functionality. As Umbraco 8 approaches its end of life in February 2025, now is the time to consider upgrading to the latest version, Umbraco 13. The trouble is, there isn’t a clearcut path to get you from A to B. To help guide you through this tricky transition, our technical experts at Wattle have produced a step-by-step process and shared their best practice insights to ensure your move to Umbraco 13 is smooth.

Understanding the Upgrade Path

Upgrading from Umbraco 8 to Umbraco 13 is a complex journey due to a shift in the underlying Microsoft technology framework from .NET to .NET Core. Let us shed some light on why a direct upgrade is not possible and why, instead, you’ll need to take an incremental approach to upgrading.

The Fundamental Framework Shift

There is no direct upgrade path from Umbraco 8 to 13. This is due to significant changes in the underlying codebase and technology between these versions. Each major version of Umbraco introduces new features, improvements, and sometimes, breaking changes that can affect the upgrade process. The launch of Umbraco 9 in 2021 marked a transition in the underlying framework from .NET to .NET Core.

Why This Matters

.NET Core is a modern, open-source, cross-platform framework offering improved performance and greater flexibility. However, it's fundamentally different from the traditional .NET framework underpinning legacy versions of Umbraco. This difference effects everything from how the CMS handles requests, to how it integrates with other systems and manages resources. This means that moving from Umbraco 8 to 9 and upwards is not just a simple version update; it's a shift to an entirely different technology stack and architecture.

Incremental Approach to Upgrading

Each version from Umbraco 9 upwards gradually adapts to the .NET Core environment and brings new features and improvements. Because of this, we recommend taking an incremental approach to upgrading to ensure that:

  1. Compatibility is maintained: Each upgrade step ensures the existing functionality and customisations within the CMS remain compatible with the new framework.
  2. Stability is ensured: Gradual upgrades allow for thorough testing and tweaking, ensuring the CMS remains stable and functional after each transition.
  3. System integrity: It avoids the risk of system breakdowns that could occur with a direct jump to a significantly different framework.

The Upgrade Process: Step-by-Step

  1. Umbraco 8 to Umbraco 9: This is the most challenging step, transitioning from the .NET framework to .NET Core. It’s more than likely that some of the code will need to be rewritten and will require comprehensive testing and likely syntax updates.
  2. Umbraco 9 to Umbraco 10: Once on Umbraco 9, the next step is to upgrade your project to Umbraco 10. There are a few breaking changes between Umbraco 9 and Umbraco 10. However, these changes are minor and should be relatively easy to fix.
  3. Umbraco 10 to Umbraco 13: To get from Umbraco 10 to Umbraco 13, you should follow Umbraco’s 'Major Upgrade' steps to upgrade sequentially from 10 to 11 to 12 and eventually to 13. From Umbraco 10 upwards, the upgrade path is generally smoother and requires less effort compared to earlier transitions due to the reduced number of breaking changes between these versions.

This step-by-step upgrade is a carefully structured process. It is designed to manage the complexities of transitioning to a new framework while maintaining system performance and integrity.

Planning Your Upgrade

Umbraco 8 reaches end-of-life in February 2025. Utilising an unsupported CMS will pose a number of risks to security, reliability, and performance. With Umbraco 9 and 11 already in their end-of-life phases and Umbraco 12 on a short-term lifecycle ending in June 2024, it’s important to plan your upgrade journey carefully.

Umbraco 10 is on long-term support until June 2025, meaning that you could go-live in 10, and tackle further upgrades next year. Bear in mind that by doing this, you’ll miss out on the latest features and functionality that newer versions of Umbraco offer.

Version 13 launched in December 2023 and is Umbraco’s newest long-term support (LTS) version. It will be supported until December 2026, offering you the latest features and improvements for the next few years to come.

For more information on each version's lifecycle and support timelines, check out the Umbraco Long Term Support and End of Life Knowledge Centre: Umbraco LTS and EOL.

Embracing New Features

Umbraco 11 and upwards introduce several new features and content editing improvements that are not present in Umbraco 10 and older. Some of these enhancements include:

  • Block Grid Editor: This new property editor allows for more flexible and dynamic content layout management, providing editors with greater control over the presentation of content.
  • Umbraco Forms Enhancements: Umbraco 11 and subsequent versions bring enhanced editor tools in Umbraco Forms, improving the form creation and management experience for content editors.
  • Performance Improvements: Umbraco continues to focus on performance enhancements, ensuring a more efficient and responsive content management experience.
  • UI/UX Updates: The latest versions of Umbraco feature modern UI updates, such as a new "block insertion" method for managing content aimed at streamlining workflows and providing a more intuitive editing experience.

These new features and improvements contribute to a more robust, secure, and user-friendly content management experience, making the transition all the way to Umbraco 13 an attractive option.

In Summary

Migrating from Umbraco 8 to 13 is a structured, incremental process, and we hope that this guide has equipped you with the knowledge and strategy for a successful transition. While the journey involves careful planning and testing, the end result will be a more robust, feature-rich, and supported CMS platform.

Remember, a CMS migration or upgrade is both a technical task and a strategic enhancement for better digital experiences!

If you would like to talk to Wattle about how we can support you through an Umbraco migration process please get in touch today.


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