March 25, 2021 –

Umbraco 9 - what does it mean for versions 7&8?

Author: Emma Yemm
Emma Yemm
Senior Digital Account Manager
Photo by: Emily Morter
Umbraco is one of the leading open-source ASP.NET content management systems, used by thousands of businesses worldwide.

With the latest (v9) release scheduled for September 2021, one of the main concerns is what impact this will have on earlier versions and whether upgrades will be required.

This blog answers key questions relating to the release process, the lifespan of older versions as well as the cost implications of upgrading/migrating to v9.

FAQs 

How often are new versions of Umbraco released?
Major, minor and patch versions refer to the first, second and third numbers in the version number (e.g., 1.2.3). Major releases tend to occur when there are breaking/incompatible API changes (typically every 2-3 years). Umbraco have also recently announced that, following the launch of 8.10 new minor versions will be released on a fixed cadence of 6 weeks, and patch releases as/when fixes are required.

Why are new versions released?
The Umbraco CMS is constantly evolving, with updated versions released each time new features are available, or new fixes and improvements are made; ultimately helping to provide users with the most up-to-date and secure CMS available.

Is Umbraco 8 still the latest version?
Umbraco 8 is currently the latest version of the Umbraco CMS, with key features including infinite editing, language variants and content apps.

When will v9 be released?
Umbraco are currently working towards a public release date of v9 on Tuesday 28th September 2021

What will happen to v7 & 8 when v9 is released?
Older versions of Umbraco will continue to be supported following the release of v9, however it’s recently been announced that the end of life (EOL) for v7.15.x and v8.16.x is September 2023 and August 2024 respectively; after which the version will not be supported by the Umbraco development team and there will no longer be updates, releases, or bug and security fixes available. For this reason, it’s not recommended that you continue using a version once it’s been considered EOL.

I’m currently using v7 will I need to upgrade?
Effectively, v7 users have until September 2023 (the EOL for v7) to upgrade, with the version continuing to be supported by Umbraco up until this point. That said, remaining on an older version of Umbraco can provide limitations in terms of the capabilities and security of the website (leading to an increase in maintenance time and costs), so an upgrade may be worth considering.

Can I upgrade from v7 straight to v9?
Unfortunately not, with the general recommendation being to upgrade in 2x steps, first from v7-v8 and then v8-v9. 

Can I upgrade from v8 to v9?
Yes! Umbraco have provided a relatively clear upgrade path from v8-v9 without any database changes or migrations. The upgrade does however contain a shift to a new framework (.NET 5) and will require updates to custom code, so it’s always worth checking the extent of the work with the development team. 

What will happen to v8 when v9 is released?
Umbraco have confirmed that, following the launch of v9 they will:

  • (continue to) merge v8 into v9 
  • not backport features from v9 to v8 
  • ship two minor versions of Umbraco 8, after the release of Umbraco 9.

This means that v9 will initially be on the same level as v8 feature-wise on launch, however any new features, improvements or functionality will be applied to v9 only (and not backported to v8). Projects can therefore be built on Umbraco v8 now and then upgraded to v9 later - especially as the EOL for v8 is August 2024. 

How much does it cost to upgrade?
The costs related to an Umbraco upgrade are heavily dependent on several factors such as the current version being used, the complexity and size of the website, as well as the structure of the supporting files and database. Costs can therefore be varied, with some sites requiring a full rebuild to upgrade.

What would 16i recommend?
Umbraco v8 is currently the latest version of Umbraco and with an EOL of August 2024 it’s ideal for any websites with an immediate requirement. That said, if you’re thinking about upgrading your website at some point in the future it may be worth waiting until the v9 release to take advantage of any future enhancements, features and security updates. Similarly, we’d advise that any projects currently on v7 be upgraded, especially if the website needs a refresh. 

Interested in hearing more or unsure about whether you need to upgrade? Speak to one of the 16i team. 

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