With the Joomla 1.5 lifecycle ending in September 2012, clients are being told they must migrate to Joomla 2.5, so that they can keep up with security fixes.
As expected, we are seeing much resistance to this process from clients. I paid for my site once, say the clients, so why am I paying more money for this migration, and why is it important? I addressed this question in an August 2011 Joomla Community Magazine article, Nine Questions When Preparing Clients for Joomla 2.5.
However, I'm also seeing much resistance to migration from website designers and developers. This surprises me, since Joomla 2.5 is a huge step forward technologically for Joomla, offering new features, easier customizations, more standards-compliant code, and hundreds of tweaks that just make a developer's life easier (like the Save & New button).
A typical example is this extract from a LinkedIn post from May 28, 2012:
As a company our major issue is the fact we use heavily modified plugins and modules which we have either purchased or spent countless hours coding to work with previous versions of Joomla. 2.5 is great in so many ways but! Getting our usual custom mods and plugins to work is a night mare. We have in excess of 95 sites built on 1.5 which we just cannot upgrade to any later version of Joomla as the mods/plugins used are not compatible.
Some conclusions I draw about this web development company based on this brief comment:
If you run a web development company with 95 production sites under a specific software brand, and if you're doing custom development work around that brand, wouldn't you be interested in the direction of that software product?
One would hope that you've realized how much of your business is tied to the rise and fall of this software product's fortunes. As this software product grows and changes (it's software, isn't this inevitable?), those changes are going to directly impact the work you do with the product.
This leads to responsibilities on the part of the software product to be transparent in its development process. Joomla has significantly improved in this regard. There are developer mailing lists where you can track what's happening with new versions. There's a repository where you can download nightly builds of Joomla, so you can test your customized extensions against what's currently under construction. You have a voice in Joomla's direction, so you can have input about the direction you'd like to see with Joomla.
You also have responsibilities as a software developer. Joomla 1.6 was discussed heavily since the release of Joomla 1.5 in January 2008. Beta versions of Joomla 1.6 -- there were fifteen of them, one every two weeks -- were released starting in June 2010, and there was at least one release candidate for Joomla 1.6 as well. Joomla's release cycle was discussed in depth and ad-nauseum starting in February 2011 (it was announced in November 2011).
So did the Joomla 2.5 migration process catch you by surprise? There is absolutely no reason it should have. If you have 95 production sites tied to your business, and your clients are paying you in some ongoing way for those sites (through maintenance, hosting, or something else), you have an ethical obligation to keep up with what's happening with Joomla. And consequently, you have an ethical obligation to keep your clients informed about what's coming next, and any potential costs that might arise from those changes, along with a timeline for when those costs will be incurred.
Most businesses realize that having a website is an ongoing cost. Most businesses also don't like large, unplanned expenses. If you give businesses notification that they will need to move their sites to a new version of software sometime in the next (greater than 6) months, your client may be unhappy about a big bill, but they can start saving for that expense now.
Likewise, if you've made Joomla an important part of your web design and development business, you need to plan accordingly for what's coming next. Does that mean a migration plan for those 95 sites? What about custom extensions? What about third party extensions and their migration plans? How does working on site migrations fit into the overall workflow of the company, balancing this work with new work? How will you charge for migration work?
You had 21 months to prepare for the end of life of Joomla 1.5 -- from the release of Joomla 1.6 in January 2011, to Joomla 1.5's end of life in September 2012. If you have not been paying attention to what's happening with Joomla in your Joomla-dependent business, the situation you find yourself in is your fault, not Joomla's.
Bonus heads-up hint: Joomla 3.0 will be released in September 2012, and Joomla 3.5, the next long-term stable version of Joomla, will be released in September 2013. Are you ready for the next big move? It's not too late to start planning today.
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