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Should I use the Sitefinity 4.0 BETA for a new web site?

by Gabe Sumner

Sitefinity 4.0 logo 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
  • Blogs
  • Events
  • News
  • Forums
  • Images & Documents
  • Lists
  • Content Meta information
  • Search indices
  • Users & Roles
  • Permissions
  • History / Versioning
  • Localization

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.)
    • Wiki
    • Newsletter
    • Polls

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.

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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!

3 comments

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  1. Neil Aug 18, 2010
    Since the backend data schema has changed extensively this was always going to be difficult and how the tool will migrate certain modules from version 3.x into 4 when they don't even exist yet is beyond me. I've mentioned many times version 4 has been touted since 2008 and will leave 3.7 installations out to dry as a full upgrade won't be possible and glad to hear wont delay the launch.
    The amount of development time taken to customise 3.x to extend functionality and deciding to migrate will definitely cause alot of pain and impact SEO also when resources already indexed by search engines are missing in itself will need to be addressed beyond version 4 drag and drop capabilities.
  2. Will Aug 20, 2010
    Thanks for an earnest response to a question that almost everyone has. I am glad to see the priority is on releasing the new version sooner, without the migration tools. We are much less concerned with upgrading current sites than we are with getting upcoming projects onto the next version.

    Let me also say that I find it acceptable to push release dates back if it means providing a polished, stable product. I've seen other vendors time and again release on-time, but with too many problems to count. It seems like Sitefinity 4 is already two-years overdue, but the wait will be worth it if the quality remains intact.
  3. Joe Aug 27, 2010
    In trying to address the decision to use 3.7 or 4.0 it first comes to my mind what will be the licensing differences. I suspect if there is going to be a substantial increase in cost, it might be beneficial to purchase 3.7 now and get the free upgrade that comes with the license agreement. But, I have not found a whole lot of resources that discuss what the changes in licensing will be for version 4.0

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