- Posted: February 16, 2009
To migrate from Joomla 1.0 to Joomla 1.5: That is the question
One of the big questions we get asked these days is whether it's worthwhile to upgrade from Joomla 1.0 to Joomla 1.5. As with all web design and development questions, the correct answer is: It Depends.
There are generally two schools of thought on this.
The "If It Ain't Broke Don't Fix It" school says that if you're site is working in Joomla 1.0, then why bother to migrate? It's doing what you want, so you don't need to change it. This certainly has some validity, in that you save money in the short term by not migrating.
The second school of thought is "Future Forward". Since Joomla 1.0 is no longer supported past July 22, 2009, now is the time to migrate to Joomla 1.5. The consequence of not changing prior to July 22 could be paid in security. Joomla will not be updating the 1.0 code base past that point. If a security vulnerability is discovered, it won't be patched. Furthermore, it seems that many (but certainly not all) 3rd party extensions for Joomla 1.0 are either not supported now or won't be supported about the same time. Again, these are potential security vulnerabilities. If your site is hacked, there's really no recourse. You can post it again via a backup, but the hackers will return quickly and knock it down again. And now, you don't have any way of patching those vulnerabilities in a timely manner. You'll have to migrate at that point -- and now you might get charged a rush rate on top of everything.
We at 4Web tend to fall into the "Future Forward" school of thought. We encourage Joomla 1.0 site owners to migrate just as soon as they can.
When Microsoft says they won't support a specific version of Windows anymore, most people do indeed move to the next version of the operating system. It's largely due to potential security vulnerabilities, as well as lack of support for programs people might want to run (and potentially lack of hardware support as well).
Likewise, with Joomla 1.5, there's not going to be much (if any) development for 1.0 extensions going forward -- even as of this writing, that support is disappearing quickly. And the security issue is really quite big. We encourage businesses to look ahead, bite the bullet, and invest in the future with a site upgrade. You don't HAVE to upgrade your site map or template at the same time, which could be done at a later point.
So you want to migrate -- how much does that cost?
Well, guess what? It Still Depends.
Part 1: The core Joomla migration
In the simplest Joomla 1.0 site, you have essentially a default install -- no additional extensions of any kind. This site is straightforward to move with the migration tools that are out there. It happens in two big steps. First, you migrate the database piece into the Joomla 1.5 install. Then you'll need to port over the template separately, while updating all of its template code. Since the HTML changes between versions, you'll also need to make some CSS tweaks to make the site look as it did. Finally, you may have some module tweaking to do as well. The process, for me, generally takes 4-8 hrs to complete.
But that is the simplest site out there! And they get complicated very quickly.
Part 2: But I did use some third party extensions...
Of course you did. Who doesn't?
Migrating these extensions is a separate process. Some migrators incorporate the most popular 3rd party extensions, while other migrators don't. And of course, you might have used an extension that's not "popular" and for which there is no migrator.
In the most rosy scenario, there is a 1.0 extension with a corresponding 1.5 extension and a migrator between the two. Less rosy is the the extensions without the migrator. But unfortunately, there isn't a 1.5 extension available in many situations -- only the 1.0 extension exists.
In those cases, you'll have to find a roughly equivalent extension that does mostly the same type of thing for Joomla 1.5, or you'll have to custom code the old extension for Joomla 1.5 yourself.
Either way, it's not pretty, and it's a lot of extra expense for your client and a lot of extra time for you.
Be sure you look carefully at the migration path for those 3rd party extensions and have a plan for schlepping the data BEFORE you start and BEFORE you quote.
Part 3: But what about the core customizations I made...
Of course you did. Most people changed something in their Joomla 1.0 install. There were no template overrides back in the day, so you had to touch the core Joomla code. Every time you upgraded your version of Joomla 1.0, these were the customizations you had to go back and re-enter all over again.
And of course, those customizations don't translate to Joomla 1.5. Some of those changes are hopefully no longer needed. But some of them may still be needed, so what happens?
You definitely need an engineer here to identify exactly which pieces of code shall be kept and are still required, which pieces can go away, which become template overrides, etc. And expect that you'll find surprises along the way, things you might miss when putting together a quote.
Boy, does this sound like a pain in the rear.
Yup, it's a huge pain in the rear -- and an expensive one.
And what happens when we have to go from Joomla 1.5 to Joomla 1.6?
Everything I have read and been told is that the migration process should be more straightforward. Let's keep our fingers crossed that it is.
- Posted: February 13, 2009
Now that we've discussed section and category blogs, let's look at front page blog layouts.
Functionally, they're very similar to the section and category blog layouts. The major difference here is that instead of choosing a section or section/category to display on the front page (home page), you assign individual articles to appear on the front page.
In the Article Manager (column labeled "front page"), or within an individual article, you can choose to display an item on the front page. By default, the choice is no.
All items chosen for the Front Page then show up in the Front Page Manager, under the Content menu. If you choose to display those articles in a specific order that you set, you can order them here in the Front Page Manager, and that ordering will be reflected. (This assumes you have picked the "ordering" option in the menu parameters.)
Essentially, all parameters under the menu item for the Front Page Blog Layout follow the conventions for section and category blogs.
When you install Joomla, even if you don't install the sample data, you will get one single menu item created, which is a Home link. The home link will connect to a Front Page Blog Layout. You can also create a front page blog via the Menu manager.
But here's the big secret: you do NOT have to keep the home page item linked to a Front Page Blog Layout. This is definitely in the top 10 list of misconceptions about Joomla.
If you simply want some introductory text on your home page, typically you would create this as an article. Many developers then turn on the "show on front page" option, the article shows on the front page, and you're done.
However, it doesn't have to work that way -- and in fact, Barrie North has said using the front page blog may hurt your search engine rankings due to the bloated code it uses by default.
Think about it -- if you want one article on the home page, only one article, and it's not going to change and you're not going to add to it -- why not just change your home page from "front page blog layout" to "article layout"? It's very easy to do. Simply click on the "home" link within the Menu Manager, then click the "change type" button near the top of the editing screen on the left side of the page. Change the type to "article layout", choose your article, save, and you're done!
Likewise, your home page could be any other menu type -- section or category blogs or listings, a web links page, a contact page, etc. Some of these certainly make more sense than others from a content perspective, but you CAN use any type of technology you want. (But, of course, just because you CAN doesn't mean you SHOULD -- apply some common sense logic to the construction of your site!)
And finally, the biggest hack of all where this is concerned. Just because it's called "Front Page Blog Layout" does NOT mean it must run on a link called Home that takes you to the home page of your website. You could call this link "cool stuff" or "latest news" and run it three levels deep in your menu structure. The only thing that makes this a "front page" item is that Joomla creates a link called Home that is a type of Front Page Blog Layout in the initial installation. Joomla uses the term "front page" consistently throughout the site to refer to this functionality. BUT -- you could train your client that "front page" means "cool stuff". Anytime they want something to show on the "cool stuff" page, they can check off the "show on front page" option, and what it really does is show on the "cool stuff" page, which is buried three levels deep in the menu hierarchy.
And, in theory, you could edit some language files to change "front page" occurrences to "cool stuff" occurences throughout the back end. But I'm not totally sure how to do that (please comment if you do) or that it's totally possible (though I suspect it is)!
- Posted: February 02, 2009