It’s Time to Upgrade Your TYPO3 Website!
It is time to take stock of your sites and figure out if it’s time to upgrade. In a previous post, we looked at how out-of-date software puts on the pressure to upgrade. Now, we’ll take a look at some of the how’s and why’s of upgrading your TYPO3 websites and keeping them up-to-date in the future.
How do you know when it’s time to upgrade or relaunch your site?
Wondering what version of TYPO3 your site is running? Without even logging in, you can paste in the URL here at t3versions.com and find out.
Some older versions of TYPO3 run on older, unsupported versions of PHP. Soon, you might not have any choice but to upgrade, because hosting companies also face legal and security risks when they run unsupported software. One of our hosting partners, Mittwald, advises us in some cases you may want to update, in others you might need a full relaunch.
How often should you expect to update a TYPO3 site?
Our partner, TYPO3 agency Schaffrath DigitaleMedien describes four main types of TYPO3 updates.
- TYPO3 update from patchlevel-release within an LTS version. Example: TYPO3 9.5.8 to 9.5.9.
- TYPO3 update from minor version x to minor version y LTS. Example: TYPO3 10.2 to 10.4 LTS.
- TYPO3 update from major version x LTS to major version y LTS. Example: TYPO3 9.5 LTS to 10.4 LTS.
- TYPO3 update from an outdated version to the latest LTS version. Example: TYPO3 8.7 LTS to 10.4 LTS.
The type of update you need will indicate the level of complexity and cost. Keep in mind that continuously updating could mean cost-savings in the long run.
Many TYPO3 projects seem to skip versions for major version upgrades. For example, going from v8 to v10, rather than updating to v9 immediately. Luisa Faßbender, at our partner Marketing Factory, wrote how site owners can decide which is best: Update or ELTS? She recommends that sites don’t need to be updated for each version. Instead, site owners should expect to upgrade every other version. “In plain language, that would mean a TYPO3 update every 4.5 years.”
Christian Zabanski and Götz Wegenast, Executive Directors at dkd Internet Service GmbH, told us that for many companies, the 18 months is too short a window. “The cycle of 18 months means that our customers have to upgrade or plan an upgrade in each planning year. This leads to ... stress.” their customers prefer “a cycle of 24 months instead of 18 months.”
Many others choose our TYPO3 ELTS service to even further extend the lifespan of their websites. If your site is running on a TYPO3 version that is no longer supported by the community, you can purchase ELTS (Extended Long-Term Support) where available. At the time of this writing, that includes TYPO3 ELTS 6.2, 7.6, and 8.7, but these too expire in time. Check out the TYPO3 Extended Support pages for up-to-date information.
Of course, there’s an alternative approach: keep your site updated continuously.
Manage costs with continuous updates
On the one hand, you want to get the most out of your investment, and that’s why we offer the ELTS service. On the other hand, you want to keep your site and online services developing and adapting. So in many cases it might be better to not wait too long between updates.
David Steeb, CEO of b13 said TYPO3 upgrades can be faster and easier if you do them more frequently. Otherwise, “If you wait several years in between upgrades, however, you will face increased costs, larger technical hurdles, and time pressure when it’s time to move from a potentially unsupported version to a newer one.” The team at b13 have seen long delays create “larger technical hurdles,” for example, “Some third-party extensions won’t be compatible anymore or won’t offer an upgrade path, leaving you with even more to do.”
Fabian Seltmann, CEO of zdreicom AG agreed. He told us that he explains to customers that “technical debts build up.” If you update continuously, it’s easier. “New features can be used early, security is guaranteed,” and more than that it saves money. “A later upgrade becomes expensive because we have to maintain outdated technology.”
Fabian explained that “Upgrades or implementation were often implemented according to the ‘It just works’ principle, which means that these technical debts including interest are postponed for the next upgrades and the upgrades tend to get more expensive instead of cheaper.” That’s why zdreicom AG offers a continuous upgrading package and why Marketing Factory applies automated continuous updates. This means there’s no interruptions in user experience or service. New features can be adapted as new updates are applied. This takes the sting out of major updates later.
We’re able to help you connect to the right partners who can find out what is appropriate for your project. An ELTS subscription or an upgrade? Some of the new features in TYPO3 v10 might be worth the move.
Why now is a great time to upgrade
If you’re ready to upgrade to the latest and greatest, now is a great time. TYPO3 v10 just launched.
Updating to TYPO3 v10 offers improved security and better features with an improved user experience. And moving to TYPO3 v10 now means you’ll get the most value out of your investment with the longest support window that started in April 2020.
Since TYPO3 v9, SEO is better supported out of the box, where projects have often required extensions for search engine optimization. Our Agency Partner dkd Internet Service GmbH in Frankfurt writes that SEO has gotten even better in TYPO3 v10, “additional extensions for SEO purposes will be a thing of the past.”
Our partner b13, explains that you can "Take advantage of the latest technologies,” and some of the benefits of that are, “The latest TYPO3 version runs an up-to-date PHP version for security and performance and to ensure support by hosting providers. Implementation of PSR standards in TYPO3 facilitates integration with other systems, while support for modern image formats like webP promise snappier loading times."
“Getting started with TYPO3 has become easier and easier,” said Susanne Moog, CTO at TYPO3 GmbH in an interview on Mittwald.de. For example, by replacing TYPO3-specific configuration with YAML, it makes TYPO3 easier to adopt for developers. Applying widely used PHP standard recommendations (PSRs) has greatly improved developer adoption in TYPO3.
Upgrading now makes future upgrades even easier
Upgrades require skill, there’s no automatic “upgrade button” because most sites use a combination of core, contributed, and custom code.
- Upgrading TYPO3 core: A direct “upgrade path” generally means that the core software updates and migrates data automatically to the new version. For example, there is a direct upgrade path from TYPO3 v6.2 to v7.6, but not from TYPO3 v6.2 to v10.4. Updating more frequently means you can take advantage of these upgrade paths.
- Upgrading TYPO3 contributed extensions: Some may have a direct upgrade path.
- Upgrading custom code: In any case, custom code may need to be re-written or updated. Since TYPO3 v9 introduced an extension scanner it’s easier than ever to update custom code. Read about some of the issues you might encounter when upgrading extensions.
Arguably, starting with version 10, it could become even easier to upgrade TYPO3 sites because more essential features have been added to the TYPO3 core, so there could be fewer custom or contributed extensions to update, depending on how you build the site. Our partner b13 recommends “using core functionality wherever possible” to make future upgrades easier.
When there’s no clear upgrade path, you may decide to take the opportunity for a redesign. This means you’ll be migrating the old data into the new site. Our partner Tritum, recommends redesigns in some cases: “A redesign is cheaper if the website has not been regularly updated and upgraded and the core is still using TYPO3 v4.”
In the future, you could even side-step the need to ever handle updates again by choosing a managed TYPO3 website builder like toujou, which handles the updates for you.
What are you waiting for?
Some companies have been hesitant to upgrade their sites until new versions of both the TYPO3 core and contributed extensions were available. But TYPO3 v10 is unlike any release the community has done before. Benjamin Kott, of TYPO3 GmbH, discovered that there were “760% MORE compatible extensions available right now for TYPO3 v10 than there were when v9 was released.” That is a huge benefit to business decision-makers.
Our partner toujou conducted a survey of 109 TYPO3 agencies and concluded “There are too many outdated TYPO3 websites” with approximately 38.7% of TYPO3 websites outside of the supported versions. Why were customers not updating their TYPO3 websites? This is what they concluded:
- “Clients do not see the cost-benefit relation of version updates”
- We say: Updating a website from an unsupported version to a current version can be complex. Past choices in terms of architecture, custom code, and integrations can further increase this complexity. But if you get over these hurdles, either by biting the bullet and upgrading or starting fresh with an up-to-date version, smart architectural choices, and regular upgrades can keep your systems fresh, performant, secure, and legally compliant which is very cost-efficient for many years to come.
- “Website relaunches are often done with ‘simpler’ systems & faster execution”
- We say: A system that is “simpler” today, might not be able to meet your needs in the future when your business scales, because your site visitors and customer numbers may grow and/or you expand into international markets. TYPO3 is the enterprise open-source CMS that will meet your needs long into the future.
- “TYPO3 has become too expensive to maintain professionally”
- We say: You might be surprised at how cost-efficient a TYPO3 project can be now. TYPO3 CMS offers the longest official support window—six years—of any similar systems. Upgrading from one major version to another is now fast and almost automated if you plan ahead and avoid custom code where possible.
- “Former webmasters are out of reach, websites become more and more neglected”
- We say: If a website is no longer delivering the value that it could, it’s time to upgrade or replace it. If a website no longer serves a useful purpose, it may be time to retire it. Leaving “ghost” properties online needlessly risks security or other problems.
- “Past decisions about architecture and integration prevent updates”
- We say: All the more reason to upgrade to a cleanly architected application, running the latest version of TYPO3. Your future-you will thank you!
If you’re still not sure, we can connect you to a partner to implement an upgrade.
Need some advice? Contact us!
These decisions aren’t easy or obvious for companies who have multiple projects going on. Feel free to ask us for advice. We have a vetted partnership network to connect you to the best service provider for your project. We’re here to help you!