Thoughts on moving from EPiServer 6 R2 to EPiServer 7.5

We put a little time in my current project looking into what it might mean if we were to upgrade our site from EPiServer CMS 6 R2 to the current version 7.5; we were to identify benefits, risks, potential money sinks and so on specific for this client. As I suspect this is not an uncommon request, I thought I’d share some of the findings.

A little background on the client’s website:

  • EPiServer CMS 6 R2 running in a load balanced environment on 6 web fronts; 1 dedicated editor server, 1 dedicated for SiteSeeker instances, and 4 for regular visitors.
  • A large number of customizations to EPiServer’s edit and admin modes.
  • A large number of custom properties.
  • Around 100 page types.
  • About 146.000 indexed pages in SiteSeeker.
  • Approximately 3000 unit tests, as well as about 2000 integration and UI tests for automated testing.
  • 6.2 million visits (3 million unique ones) and 11 million page views per month.
  • Around 300 registered web editors, of which about 100 of them uses the system daily.
  • Around 50% of the visits are from mobile devices.

Here are the highligths from this evaluation.

Primary benefits for this client

Of course there are many obvious benefits to upgrading the platform to 7.5, but these are those that we identified as the ones that would add most gain for our client.

  • We will not fall behind EPiServer’s continued development of the product; important for ensuring support etc. in the future.
  • Enhanced possibilities for the web editors to work with content directly on the page, rather than in text boxes in the old legacy edit mode.
  • Easier for web editors to work with content for mobile devices as they can see what it will look like for different ones directly in the browser.
  • Easier to work with Google Analytics directly in connection to the pages, and to optimize the way that the articles are written from an SEO point of view.

Main risks and potential problems

The risks and potential problems for when upgrading an EPiServer site is very dependant on the site in question; for instance, what custom modifications has been made to it? Have you been tampering with EPiServer’s Edit mode? Upgrading EPiServer’s own sample site ought to be a walk in the park, but the more alterations you have made, the more things can go wrong. Here are a few of the things that we identified as potential problems.

  • Possibly a complex procedure to upgrade the website and database in the production environment.
  • PageTypeBuilder will need to be replaced with EPiServer’s new way of dealing with page types through code.
  • Custom made properties will need to be rewritten to work with the new version of EPiServer.
  • Customizations made to edit and admin mode needs to be rewritten to work with EPiServer 7.5.
  • Custom made chained URL rewriting will need to be adapted to work in the new system.
  • Custom made virtual roles management for regional editors may need to be rewritten.
  • The page templates may need to be rewritten to function better with the new way of editing.
  • Automated Integration and UI tests may have to be rewritten, at least for the customizations that need to be changed in edit mode.
  • Filemanagement will need to be migrated
  • The web editors that are to use the system will need to learn the new ways of doing things.