This topic continues to appear in my email box, so I thought I would address this subject publicly. I should mention, however, that there is some internal debate on this topic. In this blog post I will outline the facts related to this choice. Then, I’ll give my own personal answer to this question.
When is the official release?
Sitefinity 4.0 is planned for official release in October or November of this year (2010). We are planning one more preview release (the RC – release candidate) before the final release. During the RC release, we will also announce the Sitefinity licensing & pricing changes.
Summary: If everything goes according to plan, Sitefinity 4.0 will be officially available in 2-3 months.
When can we migrate a Sitefinity 3.x web site to 4.0?
Quick answer: I don’t know. We will create migration tools to help customers with the 3.x to 4.0 transition. However, these tools do not currently exist. As of today, data must be migrated manually using the UI or API.
Furthermore, we will not delay the launch of 4.0 to create migration tools.
Meaning, at the time of the Sitefinity 4.0 launch, 3.x customers may not have an easy migration path. Instead, these customers may find their web site upgrades temporarily delayed while we finish these upgrade tools. This doesn’t mean migration tools are a low priority (far from it), but releasing 4.0 is our top priority. Delaying the release to finalize migration tools would negatively impact customers with new projects.
Summary: When Sitefinity 4.0 is released, Sitefinity 3.x customers may need to delay their upgrades while we finish the migration tools.
How will Sitefinity 3.x upgrades work?
Because these tools are still being created, it’s hard to detail a specific upgrade scenario. However, below I’ve detailed the general plan.
The Sitefinity 3.x Migration Tool will migrate the following data types to Sitefinity 4.0:
- Pages (and page content)
- Generic Content
- Images & Documents
- Content Meta information
- Search indices
- Users & Roles
- History / Versioning
Items that are difficult for us to transition include:
- Custom Widgets - Controls that have been added to Sitefinity
- Web site templates that might be incompatible with Sitefinity 4.0.
- Customizations made to Sitefinity control templates
- Custom database tables (and data) added to Sitefinity
- Content for unreleased Sitefinity modules: (These modules will be re-added shortly after the 4.0 release.)
Summary: Customers who have made deep customizations to Sitefinity will need to manually migrate these customizations to Sitefinity 4.0. Depending on the level of customizations, this might require substantial effort. We will (of course) help customers with this migration, but it will not be seamless.
So what should I do?
I still haven’t given a clear answer to the question asked by this blog post. I’m trying to address some of the factors that would help customers make an informed choice. Here two scenarios to help illustrate the choice.
My web site needs to launch this year. I need to deliver results and my timeframe prevents me from helping Telerik troubleshoot Sitefinity 4.0. Running the latest & greatest is less important than having a stable web site delivered on my deadline. Migration can be handled later, when there are mature resources to help.
Use Sitefinity 3.x. Sitefinity 3.x is proven, battle tested and has a large pool of resources available to help you overcome various challenges. When the time is right (after the dust has settled) Telerik will work with you to migrate to 4.0.
It’s okay if my web site launch slips into early next year. I want to give Telerik feedback and help refine the final product. I understand that this will be a learning process.
Use the Sitefinity 4.0 BETA. You’ll be visiting the Sitefinity 4.0 forums a lot. We welcome your questions & contributions. Your input will help polish the final result. When Sitefinity 4.0 is released, you’ll be an expert and well positioned with this new CMS platform.
If you’ve read this far and are still unsure, I’m going recommend that you delay your project and wait for the Sitefinity 4.0 RC release. This entire question can then be readdressed at that time.
If delaying is impossible, then use Sitefinity 3.x. This is the safest path and I am confident that our support department can help you achieve today’s goals with Sitefinity 3.x. Migration can be handled later.
Regardless of which path you choose, we’re here to help!