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Smoothest Joomla Upgrade - My History of Joomla Upgrades from 1.5 to 5

Smoothest Joomla Upgrade - My History of Joomla Upgrades from 1.5 to 5


I discovered Joomla in 2008 when a web developer recommended I use it to replace a static HTML website I'd built for my not-for-profit dog training club. "Joomla's super easy to use," he enthused, adding, "after the initial 'WHAT THE!?' shock."

Joomla 1.5 was a steep learning curve. But thanks to the Sydney Joomla User Group (JUG), Joomla forums, and books like Barry North's Joomla! A User's Guide, I launched the dog club's Joomla-based website in August 2008. 

I even gave a talk on the benefits of a Joomla website for not-for-profit organisations at JoomlaDay Sydney in 2009. 

Joomla 3

Maintaining the dog club website and being involved with the Sydney JUG and JoomlaDays increased my knowledge of Joomla. However, I held off upgrading the website from Joomla 1.5 to 1.6, 1.7, and 2.5 due to the technical complexity of the task and extension compatibility issues.

By 2013, MailChimp stats showed that most members accessed the dog club's emailed newsletters and website links via mobile devices. It was time to move the website to mobile-friendly Joomla 3.

In addition to the upgrade, I wanted to migrate from a website builder to a responsive Joomla template. I couldn't find a tool for both, so I copied and pasted the old pages into the new design. It was a long process, but it worked and gave the dog club a modern-looking, responsive website. 

(Disclosure: I'm no longer associated with the club or its website.)

By now, I was beyond the 'WHAT THE!?' stage with Joomla, at least from a template and extensions admin and code tweaking perspective, which encouraged me to use it to build my Tall And True writers' website. 

I had long dreamed of creating an online space where I and other writers could share and showcase our writing. But life and other distractions got in the way, and it wasn't until 2017, fittingly at the August Sydney JUG, that I launched the Joomla-based Tall And True

And I presented how Joomla helped me achieve my Tall And True dream at JoomlaDay Australia in 2019.

Joomla 4

In May 2020, I updated Tall And True with a new look and feel on the 3.x platform. But with memories of the protracted upgrade to Joomla 3, I wasn't tempted by the release of Joomla 4 in 2021. 

It wasn't until late 2022 that I embarked on a month-long project to upgrade the website platform and give Tall And True another fresh look and a new focus on my writing.

Joomla historians will know that "Joomla" comes from the phonetic spelling for the Swahili word "jumla", which means "all together" or "as a whole". As I've shown, another Swahili phrase describes my approach to Joomla upgrades, "pole pole" (pol-lee pol-lee), meaning "slowly-slowly". 

Joomla 5

I had no intention of upgrading Tall And True to Joomla 5 until late 2024 or early 2025. However, Joomla's Pre-Update Check in the Administrator backend and the planning and upgrade process instructions on the Joomla Documentation website looked straightforward. So, on a quiet week in January 2024, I took a deep breath and plunged into the Joomla 5 upgrade. 

But I needn't have worried. I created a backup of Tall And True in a staging environment and worked through the checklist, updating extensions and the database table structure to upgrade from Joomla 4.3 to 4.4 and then from 4.4 to 5. 

There were a few Error 500s (Internal Server Error), mainly due to old extensions and code left in the staging environment or PHP settings, but I found fixes for these in the Joomla forum.

I spent one day practising and documenting the Joomla 5 upgrade steps in my staging environment, and the next day, I was ready to upgrade the live Tall And True. As I posted later that day on the Joomla Facebook group

"Congratulations, Joomla 5 Developers and Testers. I've just successfully updated my website from Joomla 4 to 5. It was the smoothest Joomla upgrade I've ever done. A big THANKS to you guys and Extension Developers."

And I hope to give a presentation about my positive Joomla 5 upgrade experience at the next Joomla event!

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