Sitefinity releases new versions, major or minor, every quarter. Newer versions can include hotfixes, bug fixes or new features. To take advantage of new versions, an upgrade is usually required. There’s a misconception that an upgrade simply entails uploading the new Sitefinity license, but that is not the case. Upgrading involves updating the newer versions of the Sitefinity libraries, configurations, and database as well. Following a specific process makes the upgrade more predictable and successful.
Preparing for an upgrade:
Each website is unique, some have customizations and some are basic. For example, Sitefinity 7.3 has breaking changes to Search API, so the sites that have customizations to Search widgets will need a code fix when upgrading to versions above 7.2. While Sitefinity 8.1 has changes to the MVC namespace - Telerik.Sitefinity.Mvc, we need to make sure to remove Telerik.Sitefinity.UI.Mvc.dll. Sitefinity 10.0 has major changes to authentication. Any customizations done to these will require code fixes. Sitefinity lists all the API changes and database changes here.
Performing the upgrade:
Sitefinity has provided extensive documentation for the upgrade, and it’s updated with each new version. In addition, there are Knowledge Base articles provided that document common issues and errors faced during the upgrade process and how to resolve them. If the site doesn’t use Nuget packages, Sitefinity Project Manager Tool is used during upgrading. The tool provides a ‘one-click’ upgrade that does the following:
- Gets new DLLs
- Updates web references
- Updates configs
It is helpful to document the upgrade process, especially since it is sometimes required to repeat the upgrade if there are severe issues with it.
Post upgrade testing:
Post upgrade testing is important to make sure no existing functionality is broken. It is best to identify the key functionalities of the website and test after the upgrade. It is always helpful to maintain a copy of the older version so the upgraded site can be compared to it in order to identify if an issue existed before the upgrade or if it’s a post upgrade issue.
Upgrading a live site:
Upgrade sometimes involves site downtime. So it’s important to notify the stakeholder about the site unavailability during the upgrade. To minimize downtimes, upgrade can be done on the backup of the site and after upgrade is complete, domain can be switched to the upgraded site. This way there is no downtime. This method is helpful if the website doesn’t collect forms data, or if there is no user registration. Even on the sites with member logins and registration, instead of bringing the entire site down, those pages with the login widget can show the maintenance screen and the other parts of the site will still be functional. If downtime is unavoidable, a maintenance page may be put up, and in such cases upgrade is done in off hours.
Americaneagle.com can help with any upgrades of the Sitefinity platform – contact us if you have any questions!