Make upgrades easy with these simple tips

by: James Mathias on: 12/13/2018

ExpressionEngine 5 has arrived

ExpressionEngine 51 is out and with that comes an upgrade! Upgrading from version 4 is simple. Just make sure all your third-party add-ons are up to date2, and then use the 1-click updater3. Easy-peezy lemon-squeezy. Enjoy version 5!

Version 3 is slightly more involved, but it’s really just a matter of moving some files and visiting a page on your website. We’ve documented this for you, so you can’t go wrong.

If you’re on version 2, your day is going to be a little more interesting.

The first thing you need to determine is which third-party add-ons you are running. From that list you need to categorize the add-ons into groups in order to decide how to move them forward.

Add-ons that;

  • Have an ExpressionEngine 5 compatible version available.
  • Can be replaced by native functionality.
  • Need replacement, or rewriting.
  • Can be removed completely.

Version 5 compatible add-ons

These are easy, just grab the new version of the add-on and have it ready to install.

Switch to native

There’s a little more work here, however in most cases these will be straightforward changes. And in some cases there are migration scripts to help you make the move; For example, moving from Playa & Matrix to Relationships & Grid.

Replace, rewrite, or remove.

Replacing may require a migration path like moving to native as above, or some sort of manual data moving. Rewriting is a bigger job, and most of the time, unless the functionality is vital, it’s likely best to refactor the functionality. Removing is usually simple, but can have some gotchas if you don’t fully understand the add-on and what it does. You can always hire us to help you with replacements, rewrites, and removals.

Whichever route you take with this group of add-ons you’ll need to schedule a little extra time for the work.

Next Steps

After you’ve figured out all your add-ons you need to tackle the upgrade from 2 to 5. This is best done in smaller steps. I personally recommend the following steps.

  1. Upgrade to 2.11.9
  2. Upgrade to 3.5.17
  3. Upgrade to 5.0.1

After each step, I suggest doing a quick check of your site to make sure everything is working as expected. Then proceed to the next upgrade step. It’s much easier to debug and fix something that went wrong right away, rather than discovering it later when you’ve upgraded all the way.

Pro-tip: Make a fresh backup (Database and Files) after each successful upgrade, so long as everything is working as expected, it can save you some time if a later upgrade causes issues.

Most of the gotchas and issues will occur during the second step (upgrading from 2 to 3), as this is where the largest changes in the software happen.

Other Options

If you’re on version 2 another option you have is to take the opportunity to revisit your web presence altogether. If your CMS is 7 years old, it’s likely your website is due for a refresh. ExpressionEngine 5 is a dream machine in comparison to version 2. You want to be on 5. It’s the most secure, stable, flexible, and user-focused CMS on the market today.

You can contact one of our wonderful Service Partners to discuss a rebuild on ExpressionEngine 5.

Whether you choose to upgrade or rebuild your website, ExpressionEngine 5 is 100% the right choice.

  1. At the time of this writing, ExpressionEngine 5.0.2 was the latest version. Please check our documentation for the most recent version of ExpressionEngine. ↩︎

  2. This is especially important if you are running any add-ons by EEHarbor. Do not use the 1-click updater until you’ve updated all your EEHarbor add-ons with ExpressionEngine 5 compatible versions. ↩︎

  3. If you aren’t already on ExpressionEngine 4.3.6, the updater will first update you to 4.3.6, then you will need to run it again to get to 5.0.2. ↩︎

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