As a Technical Architect and someone who loves working with Umbraco, I continuously hear questions like "Why should we upgrade our Umbraco v7 and v8 projects to the latest version of Umbraco?"
In this post, I give my answer to this important question without giving too many technical details so that hopefully everybody could easily understand the reasoning behind the Umbraco upgrades.
If you are familiar with Umbraco CMS, you already know that Umbraco is a super flexible open-source CMS platform. It is loved by both Developers and Editors, because of its intuitive editing experience, freedom for Developers and seamless integrations that unlock a world of opportunities for many websites (and businesses).
And if you have been closely following the Umbraco news, you also know that the Umbraco CMS .NET Core move happened and the first .NET Core version of Umbraco (v9.0.0) was released on September 2021. As of January 2023, the latest Umbraco version is v11.1.0.
Why was the .NET Core move so important?
There were many reasons that one could say about moving a .NET Framework project to .NET Core, but the most obvious reason was that Microsoft stopped working on the older technology of .NET Framework.
This meant that a Umbraco upgrade to .NET Core was absolutely necessary, and in order to do that, the Umbraco Development Team got together with the Umbraco Community and brought the codebase up-to-date after a lot of hard work.
What has changed from v7 to v8?
A lot of old/legacy code was completely removed, while new APIs and features were introduced.
This created a lot of breaking code changes between v7 and v8, which made upgrades from v7 to v8 practically impossible. What was allowed was to migrate the content.
What has changed from v8 to v9?
Briefly put, the main change was to move the Umbraco code base from .NET Framework to .NET Core, without introducing any new features. Once the first Umbraco .NET Core releases (v9) were ready, then the new Umbraco and .NET Core features followed.
With the Umbraco .NET Core move complete, Umbraco CMS is now more future-proof and has much better performance as well as the support of the latest security improvements and features of .NET Core.
How long will Umbraco v7 and Umbraco v8 be supported?
The End of Life for Umbraco v7 is September 2023 and for v8 it is February 2025.
What does "End of Life" mean anyway?
Simply put; the End of Life is the end of support for a software version.
After the End of Life date, Umbraco HQ no longer work on the new features or maintain the existing features, they will also no longer release fixes for bugs, regressions or security issues for that specific version.
What does this mean for my Umbraco v7 projects?
The short answer is that you should get ready to upgrade your Umbraco v7 projects to a later version of Umbraco, ideally v11. You should complete all of your upgrade work before September 2023.
Between the latest version of v7 (7.15.10) and the latest version of v11 (11.1.0), there are 549 new features, 43 breaking changes and 1633 bug fixes.
Umbraco have already stopped implementing new features for v7 and they only fix the security issues if any until the end of September 2023.
How about my Umbraco v8 projects?
Compared to v7 projects, you have a bit more time to do your upgrades, but you should complete all your v8 upgrades before the security phase starts on February 2024.
There are no new features planned for v8 and there won't be any more releases after February 2025.
It is recommended to complete your v8 upgrades as soon as possible in order to benefit from all the performance and security improvements as well as the new features of Umbraco v11 and .NET 7.
Can you explain what Umbraco "upgrade" actually means?
There is no direct "upgrade" path from v7 to v8 or from v8 to v9+.
This is because between v7 and v8, the codebase changed a lot and a lot of new features were introduced, and between v8 and v9+, the entire Umbraco codebase moved from .NET Framework to .NET Core.
When people talk about Umbraco "upgrade", what they actually mean is spinning up a new Umbraco website, migrating the old content into the new system and then adding the additional custom code into the new Umbraco website. More details could be found on the Umbraco website.
How can I track the latest version of Umbraco and compare different versions?
You can find the latest version of Umbraco on the "All releases" Umbraco page, similarly, you can compare different versions of Umbraco using the "Compare Releases" page.
The future of Umbraco and your Umbraco projects
The future of Umbraco CMS is brighter than ever, and if you look at the Umbraco Roadmap, you'll see some amazing features are just around the corner, like new features for Composable DXP (Digital Experience Platform), multiple integrations like Payment provider integration with Umbraco Forms, Integration with InRiver PIM for Umbraco CMS (DXP) and Integration with ActiveCampaign for Umbraco CMS and Forms.
In order to keep up with the latest changes, you should make plans to upgrade your older v7 and v8 projects to the latest version of Umbraco as quickly as possible.
Once you upgrade your projects to v11, then you should have some additional plans to do regular Umbraco upgrades, so that you won't have to worry about very big upgrades again.
Starting with the release of Umbraco v9, Umbraco has started to release a new minor CMS version every 6 weeks and a new major CMS version every 6 months. You should keep an eye on the Umbraco release schedule to make better upgrade plans.
Change is inevitable and will continue to happen, and it is important to adapt and "upgrade" your projects at the right time with the right tools. Hopefully, this article, together with my previous Skrift article about “How I upgraded my Umbraco v7 project to Umbraco v11” will answer your questions about your Umbraco upgrades and help you make better plans for your Umbraco projects.