Read our latest news articles from the NXT Digital Solutions team.
by Peter Hinchliffe Director
Posted on December 21, 2022
NXT have created a guide to provide some context to upgrading Umbraco CMS and reasons why you shouldn’t neglect this core piece of your digital infrastructure. Before we get into the reasons for upgrading the content management system, it might be useful to give some context to why we created this article. Typically, NXT supports a range of customers digital systems / applications and Umbraco is our favourite free .NET open-source CMS by a long way. We’ve used many systems including; Joomla, Hubspot and Wordpress and they certainly don’t match up to the flexibility delivered from Umbraco back-office, nor the security being built on the .NET framework.
Umbraco CMS is the biggest .NET open-source free CMS in the world, it launched in 2003 with it’s first edition and NXT we’re early adopters of it, having delivered over 150+ different Umbraco projects since 2012. NXT are an Umbraco Partner, and we are one of over 1,500 global partners. Its popularity has grown and can now boast over 1 million global installations.
Umbraco can support all the basic content management (CMS) functionality for marketing websites and systems of text, media, document publishing but has evolved today to offer the integrated engine of as a digital experience platform (DXP). This provides a fully integrated and seamless digital experience across channels and devices and throughout the entire customer journey. This means that Umbraco can be the heart of everything digital you offer to your customers. It enables a single solution as a tech-stack to integrate and manage all experiences. To ensure that Umbraco sits as a market leader (see Gartner magic quadrant of CMS’s), the in-house team are constantly looking to improve and secure the back-office for their customers, you. This like any managed software, regular releases and patches are shipped to the market. As part of these updates, Umbraco have confirmed that from Umbraco 9 versions will align with the releases of major version updates of .NET too. Meaning they are working more closely than ever. This leads us on to this next point.
The Umbraco infrastructure is made up of minor and major iterative releases. With each step change, enables the availability of new releases of functionality and innovation for the platform. Umbraco is supported by a major community of global developers, helping to scale change and innovation faster. This demand and small release cycles allows customers to incorporate these changes quickly and more frequently. Overall, according to a recent RedHat survey in 2022, the market has shifted 10% away from proprietary software towards a new breed of Enterprise Open-source uptake. We also need to consider the overall increase in external attempts at breaking into Umbraco from hackers who are looking to exploit any vulnerabilities. We know that traditionally .NET offers more resilience than traditional PHP counterparts (see Log4j Flaw) but the Umbraco team regularly communicate essential patches. This means that if you’re not part of that on-going support plan, you’re potentially open to vulnerabilities.
The other key factor is ensuring your back-office infrastructure remains up to date (within a scale of support versions) then it reduces your need for whole system re-building, rather just layout updates and functionality adaption within the CMS. Feature updates such as the new Umbraco block-builder layout enables admins to have greater freedom for functional updates.
First step is to understand what version of Umbraco you have currently installed. You can find this out by logging in the admin area of your Umbraco system and select the Help icon “?” in the top right (or bottom left depending upon which version you may have). This will then show the current install version of the CMS.
You can find the latest versioning sequence on the Umbraco website here and history released versions, here. Depending on which version you have installed will determine the amount of time needed to upgrade the application and database to the latest version. The other useful part in understanding the constraints of upgrading is the inclusion of custom code and functionality developed into the back-office. This can cause knock-on effects to upgrading.
Another big consideration for customers is the ability to upgrade from Version 7 to the latest version Umbraco 10 +. The is no formal upgrade path as the core infrastructure has been changed to the upgraded version of .NET Core replacing the previous .NET version. This means in reality that if you have an older version of the CMS running your site / application then this does mean more heavy lifting in terms of updating the back-office side of Umbraco. Typically, version 7 sites would have been developed around 2013 and the app cannot be supported (Sept 2023) and could be compromised. This would be a good opportunity to consider a re-skin of the frontend of your application as well as re-building the back office too. The time re-build your solution will be dependant upon total size/structure of the application, number of unique components and styles created as well as what systems are integrating with the application too.
We talked about security earlier and as advocates of the "Security by Design" principals we ensure that Umbraco is a critical part of the security stack. Having an open-source code based can have its merits but also flaws from being more open than other proprietary systems. However, the code is managed centrally at Umbraco HQ meaning that if vulnerabilities are/were uncovered, then a patch is communicated and delivered to the market. For more on Umbraco's security policies, read here.
In 2021 Umbraco was acquired by Monterro, a Swedish growth fund who specialise in Scandinavian software. This has enabled further growth and investment into Umbraco for the future which is great news for Umbraco partners such as NXT. According to Umbraco themselves, they have three main trends will impact our industry in 2023 including:
So they are investing more into their composable DXP strategy, alongside their Headless CMS offering and the release of version 11, it will enable Umbraco to be used as powerful cloud first digital platform for businesses.
If you have got an Umbraco installation, check which version you have installed. If you have a version 8+ install then our recommendation for a quick fix is to upgrade it to the last supported version of v8 before the wholesale v9+ .NET Core changes. This for reference is v8.15.5, which will be supported well into 2024. As the upgrade to later versions requires more of a re-building element needed, then each upgrade should be on a case by case basis but once delivered offers far more flexibility going forwards. At the time of writing this guide, we are supporting new installs onto version 10.2.0. If you need some non-techy advice or looking for an agency to support your Umbraco application, please do get in touch.