Updating your own website when you are a developer is akin to a plumber fixing a leaking tap - it never gets done. Well that's a broad generalisation but you get what I mean.

I've wanted to update the Joomlabamboo network of sites to Joomla 2.5 and then Joomla 3 for a very long time and I am happy to say that this blog is now running on Joomla 3.

Moving to J3 was literally done over the weekend just gone (fun times!) and would have been much faster had I not entertained the idea of a redesign as well. There are a few design tweaks here and there but compared with the ideas I had floating around during the migration process this is much more a realignment than a redesign.

So what was the process?

The path I took moving to Joomla 3 was probably not that much unlike your own attempts at moving J1.5 sites across to Joomla 2.5 and beyond.

  1. Take a snapshot of the existing Joomla 1.5 site.

  2. Install it locally on Mamp

  3. Install a fresh copy of Joomla 2.5 (Not Joomla 3)

  4. Install Sp Ugrade (I've had the most luck using this commercial component).

  5. Import the database from the Joomla 1.5 site to the newly created Joomla 2.5.

  6. Check that all of the content has moved across.

  7. Use the Joomla updater to update to Joomla 3. I've read that this is a far stabler process doing a migration to Joomla 2.5 first and then moving to Joomla 3. Would love to hear others takes on this.

  8. Once upgraded to Joomla 3 go to the extension manager and fix any database errors.

  9. Copy across the images form the J1.5 site to the images folder on the J3 site - SP Upgrade can do this but its easy enough to do it manually.

  10. Check the K2 items are visible on the front end. This was basically the first stumbling block because SP Upgrade didn't manage to move the K2 content and assign it to a user level so the content would not display on the front end. I tracked down the fix on the K2 blog, you can either do this manually and assign a user group for each category and content item or use the sql queries below:

For Categories

UPDATE `YOURPREFIX_k2_categories` SET access = 1 WHERE access = 0

For Items

UPDATE `YOURPREFIX_k2_items` SET access = 1 WHERE access = 0

After running those queries the K2 items now had an access level and were also visible on the front end.

  1. Move the template to Joomla 3. As I mentioned before this was the most time consuming part because I went down a number of design detours before I decided to slightly tweak the existing theme. It's running on a stripped back version of our Zenbase theme and also importantly has all of the javascript stripped out. The blog doesn't use javascript that much so I thought the speed and performance improvements out weighed any short term benefit.

  2. Upload to a temp directory on the live server to check the links etc.

  3. Install Akeeba, Admin Tools, Sh404 and JCE.

  4. Run another test and check urls and content.

  5. Rename the old blog directory and then rename the tmp blog folder to blog.

  6. Rename any reference to the blog directory in the configuration file - for tmp and log folders.

  7. Do a last check to see if I didn't miss anything - Turns out I did :)

  8. Turn on Caching.

  9. Tweet and write a blog post about the process.

So what have I learnt?

  1. Joomla 3 has a much more pleasing user experience then Joomla 1.5. I already knew this but it feels great to be writing this in the Joomla 3 backend. I know it has some work to do but it feels a lot more fresh than what I've been used to.

  2. Joomla 3 is much much faster than Joomla 1.5 even without caching. This is what you would really expect out of such a major update but I'm really blown away by how fast the pages load. I'm testing out the caching options at the moment and have progressive caching switched on and the site seems even faster.

3. You still need some 3rd party components. The extensions I installed are most likely known to all of you and there is a reason for that. They are well made and fill a gap that core Joomla doesn't - and possibly shouldn't fill anyway.

Akeeba Backup Professional - for automated backups synced to Dropbox.

Sh404 - Mainly because the old blog was running on Sh404 so it was very easy to move without breaking too many urls. Also Sh404 gives you much more control over what the urls look like and allow you to catch broken urls via their excellent 404 manager.

Admin Tools - For the advanced HTacess maker and PHP file scanner. You can of course make the .htaccess file yourself but Nick has added so much great stuff in there and it's getting updated all the time.

JCE - It's the Joomla Content Editor of choice for good reason.

4. You still need a 3rd party extension when creating a multi-user blog in Joomla. I was tempted to move to Joomla core for the content of the blog but I realised that one small key feature that I couldn't do easily was create user pages and avatars for the various authors who write for us. I'm sure there is a long way around doing this but at this stage K2 does this easily. My choice of K2 is really just because I have used it so much in the past and know my way around it very well. If I were starting fresh and wanted to use a blogging system I might try Easy Blog from the folks at Stack Ideas or spend some time creating some author layouts using modules etc in Joomla content. For now though K2 offers a lot of extra stuff that I may use one day and is blazingly fast.

  1. That there are just somethings on your site that no one clicks on. It was interesting to look at the in page analytics for the blog to see what parts of the site were clicked on and the whole top menu in the last design did not receive any clicks whatsoever. So that was an easy choice in terms of what to keep and what to get rid of. I will be checking the in page analytics in google a lot more often from now on.
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