Umbraco 8 and reasons to upgrade

  • By 3chillies
3chillies

Umbraco 8 was launched in February 2019, and was 5 years in the making! Eagerly anticipated by 3chillies and the wider Umbraco community, the codebase was given a thorough and necessary clean-up, in order to make working with Umbraco a lot simpler for developers as well as improve the performance and stability of the CMS, all of which will make it more straightforward for all users to work with Umbraco.

Now that the dust has settled and Umbraco 8 has been in use for almost a year, we take a look at the different arguments to remain on 7 or upgrade to 8 and discuss the major developments that Umbraco 8 has launched with:

Umbraco 7 

The current picture Umbraco 7 is a known, stable and well featured platform which is loved by many users. There is also a vast library of third party plugins available for free.

If your site is currently on a version of 7 Umbraco are continuing to do releases for this, but these are now mainly maintenance releases (bug fixes, security updates, etc), no new features are being launched.

Umbraco will continue to support 7 for the foreseeable future, but over time they will stop supporting older versions, then less old versions, and eventually stop support altogether - but there is no set date for that currently.

Umbraco 8

The current picture:
Umbraco 8 has been out of beta since February 2019 and is now on v8.5.1 as of mid January 2020.

The major upgrade benefits of 8

The back office UI / editing experience is much improved when compared to 7.

Infinite editing: A very grand name for a much nicer editing experience! Supports the natural flow of content creation and allows for a more streamlined editing experience, CMS users no longer have to waste time clicking between pages - simply find and edit content and media in one place without losing your place within the CMS, meaning that working on content is quicker and more intuitive. 
A huge improvement on how content editing currently works in Umbraco 7!

Language variants: Out of the box language variants now come baked in. In previous Umbraco versions if you wanted multiple languages on your website you had to create a new site for each one. With Umbraco 8, managing multiple languages is an integral part of the CMS, featuring a side-by-side editing view and the ability to switch between languages for easy comparison.

You can also choose to publish all your content in your various languages in one go. Or, for added flexibility, you can push out content only to selected languages.

Offering added functionality and flexibility, as well as a seamless editing experience, language variants is one of the biggest pluses of Umbraco 8.

Content apps: The ability to create ‘plug in’ apps which are contextually relevant to the content you’re working on and enhance the editing experience. 

A Content App is intended to be a companion to your editing experience which means that a Content App is not directly part of the editing experience but can give you information and feedback on the content you are creating as well as statistics and results of the impact of the content you have published. It can even bring you suggestions on how to improve your content while you’re creating it. No need to jump to external platforms or checklists to get these insights - now you’re able to get it right where you need it!

For example, an analytics integration which sits within the page you’re editing and allows you to see all the details on adoption, engagement, audience, etc metrics (page speed, meta info, performance etc) that’s relevant to the page. 

Upgrade path to 8?

The short answer is: there isn’t really one – but it may be possible to migrate! 

Version 8.1 includes an update to include functionality necessary to get Umbraco 7 content converted to Umbraco 8 format, and while it will be necessary to do a site audit on a case by case basis to work out what’s possible, it should be possible to keep / reuse existing front end code but the back end will need a rebuild or at best a partial rebuild. 

The amount of work required to migrate / upgrade will depend on how ‘generic’ the version 7 site is, if there’s lots of custom functionality, or how many third party integrations there are.

Any downsides to upgrading now?
3chillies would recommend that all new sites are built on Umbraco 8 moving forward. Although not all third party packages / plug-ins that exist on 7 are built for 8 yet, the library available is growing rapidly.

If you’re interested in moving your Umbraco 7 site to Umbraco 8 or have a new requirement then give us a call to talk your options through on 0118 931 4196 or email us via hello@3chillies.co.uk

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