What a Failed Umbraco Release Can Teach Us About Upgrades

Experienced web professionals know that with content management systems there is no such thing as an easy upgrade. Upgrades have the potential to affect your existing customizations, plug-ins, and integration code. They can turn a perfectly healthy implementation into a dysfunctional and embarrassing work-in-progress.

Earlier this year, open source vendor Umbraco demonstrated an extreme example of how CMS upgrades can go wrong.

Umbraco version 5 was released in January 2012 following 18 months of development and much hype. Some months later, after numerous failed upgrades among the customer base and negative publicity associated with severe performance problems, Umbraco officially discontinued version 5. Founder Niels Hartvig delivered the RIP news in his keynote speech at Umbraco's annual Codegarden conference in July 2012, where he admitted that he could no longer recommend v5 for new projects, and that the future of Umbraco would be based on the more stable version 4.

The message was received reasonably well by the Umbraco community. Developers showed support and understanding, and admired Niels for his open and honest approach. How many commercial vendors would openly admit such a mistake?

Yet for website owners and system integrators who invested in Umbraco, some trust was broken. For them actions speak louder than words. The words were good. But actions, which resulted in wasted efforts, failed projects and angry customers? Not so much.

Painful upgrades are just one example of how selecting a Web CMS is more than just buying an off-the-shelf product. When you commit to a content management system, you're investing in the system's leadership, vision, and reliability. It's not just about how the system looks now – it's whether you can trust it to perform year after year, and upgrade after upgrade.

If you are currently selecting a Web CMS and think we can help, we'd love to hear from you.

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