Joomla 3.10 is soon to be at its End of Life (EoL) stage and so all Joomla 3.10 sites are now warning administrators to migrate to Joomla 4 as soon as possible. In this article we'll quickly run you through the scope of that process so you can get started migrating or ask for help where needed. At The Joomla Expert, we have provided Joomla migration services since the very beginning of Joomla, from 1.0 through to today's Joomla 4 migration needs.
Support ends on 17 August 2023 for Joomla 3.10. Migrate to Joomla 4 as soon as possible.
Do we really need to migrate our Joomla website?
The short answer is no - the Joomla 3 CMS is very stable and tends to degrade gracefully - i.e. when there is a failure it typically presents a message that tells us what the problem is. In fact, we even have some past clients still running Joomla 1.5 sites, the codebase for which has been EoL since January 1st 2012, and is still running 11 years later! That said, older versions of Joomla are slower and can be vulnerable to malware because no new security patches are to be released for these versions. The main reason we find people requesting Joomla 4 migrations are when their hosting company upgrade the PHP or MySQL version on the server, which causes PHP code deprecation to run and either display issues or make the software throw a server error. This is really the worst scenario, when your live site is no longer available. Which leads us to the long answer.
The long answer is Yes, we recommend you migrate your site to Joomla 4 as soon as possible. This is because, if you intend on keeping your Joomla site running well, you will have to migrate it to Joomla 4 at some point and so running the risk of downtime or hosting-induced errors appearing is not worth waiting. Some of our clients are already asking about Joomla 5 and wonder if Joomla 4 is a necessary migration if they will then have to migrate again to Joomla 5 when it is in stable release. As the path to upgrade from Joomla 3 to Joomla 5 would require migrating through Joomla 4, it makes sense to move to Joomla 4 before August if possible. Additionally, anyone involved with Joomla or similar large software projects will know that the projects roadmap for releases and the actual can vary significantly and so Joomla 5 may or may not get released on the originally announced schedule. Either way, Joomla 4 migration is necessary so taking the advantages of the migration right now makes a lot more sense than waiting and having to migrate through Joomla 4 later anyway.
Do you need help with a Joomla update or migration? Get in touch for a free assessment.
How do we organize a Joomla 3 to Joomla 4 migration?
Like any major software change, the first step is to take a backup and clone the site to a development or testing area where you can run through the process, and create a plan for your Joomla 4 migration - finding and solving any blocking issues along the way. This is the low risk approach to a migration project. It is very risky, unnecessary and really quite silly to attempt a migration on a live site. There's just no reason to do it. So, create a development area and rebuild from a backup there before you continue.
The next step is to ensure all extensions and the core are up to date, so run the updates checker and update extensions, Then check the Joomla Update has no more Joomla 3 updates available.
Your next step should be to review each of the non-core or 3rd party extensions. That includes plugins, modules, components, packages, and templates. For each of these, uninstall any that are no longer in use or you no longer have use for. Next, find out if there is a Joomla 4 compatible version available for the remaining ones. If you find one that does not have a J4 compatible version, you can delay until one is released but it's probably no longer in development and so you should search for an alternative extension with which to replace the functionality. This also tends to require the data from the older extension to be migrated over to the new one also, so be mindful of that. At the end of this you should have reviewed the existing plugins, modules, components, packages, and templates and either have a Joomla 4 version or replacement ready. Now is a good time to run a further backup, because we're going to uninstall extensions in the next step.
The next step is to uninstall any extensions that do not automatically migrate, which will be most of the 3rd party extensions. Typically, uninstalling a 3rd party extension will leave behind its database tables, so when you reinstall the Joomla 4 version after the core migration it should retain the data. This is one of the major things you want to test with this process, to be sure this is happening for all of your extensions. Once that is complete, you can run the pre-update check which provides you with information about the readiness of your server, settings and installed extensions for the update.
To run this check, navigate into Components > Joomla Update If you have not already switched the update channel, on the Joomla Update screen it will show you the mesage "You are on the "Default" update channel. Through this channel you'll receive notifications for all updates of the current Joomla release (3.x). You already have the latest Joomla version, 3.10.11." To switch to the correct Joomla update channel for the Joomla 4 migration, click the options button in the top right corner of this screen. On the Joomla Update: Options screen select Joomla Next as the Update Channel Source. When you save and close, the system will run the Pre-Update Check for Joomla 4.x. This check will show you all extensions where the update information is unavailable, where there is an update still required, and where there are no further updates required before you can proceed with the migration.
For items under the No Further Updates required - these should not be an issue for the migration. These extensions have declared they are compatible with Joomla 4. For extensions under the Updates Still required section - these extensions have declared there are more recent versions available which you should update to before proceeding, or uninstall. Lastly, for the extensions under the Update Information Unavailable section, these extensions have not declared their compatibility. For any left in this section, you should uninstall and have a Joomla 4 version available for after the migration or have a replacement extension that provides the same functionality which you can user after the migration. When you have reviewed and worked on each extension, this section should show no further updates required for all or almost all extensions.
A special note on Templates
Many templates will not be Joomla 4 compatible. In these cases, you can implement a different template and perhaps find a similar style or go for a complete change of look and feel. However, if you have some coding skills, you may be able to migrate the template by updating deprecated code to work on Joomla 4. If you do not have coding knowledge, and want help to migrate your Joomla 3 template to Joomla 4, please get in touch for assistance. It can also be a good idea to switch to the default Joomla 3 Protostar template before you migrate, so that when the migration completes the template in use will be Cassiopeia, the default Joomla 4 template. This way you will immediately be able to see if the migration was successful and can then separately check if the template is compatible or not.
Ready to perform the migration to Joomla 4
Once the update system reports no further updates required, you are ready to migrate. This point is also a great opportunity to run a backup, so you have another fallback point should something go wrong. To perform the migration, select the Live Update tab in the Joomla Update screen. If you still have some potentially incompatible extensions, you may see an additional warning when you scroll down the screen: "Do you wish to ignore the warnings about potentially incompatible plugins and to proceed with the upgrade?". If you wish to proceed anyway, you can bypass this by selecting the checkbox. Then the Install the Update button will become available. Pressing this button will kick of the migration to Joomla 4.
All going well, you will see the Joomla 4 administration screen once it completes, if you see an error or the migration fails, record what the error is; retrieve the last backup and rectify the problem before trying again. If you're still having difficulties, please get in touch for assistance.
If you see the Joomla 4 administrator screen, congratulations! You've migrate dthe core of Joomla over. You may still need to check the front end, adjust some styling and reinstall extensions but the code part is now complete. Well done!
Do you need help with a Joomla update or migration? Get in touch for a free assessment.