Joomla Is Making the Same Mistake, Again!

Joomla 1.5, probably the most used Joomla version ever, officially died back in 2012. Back then, many Joomla administrators were faced with a dilemma: Should we migrate our Joomla website(s) to 2.5? Or should we switch to another CMS? The decision was not easy, because in many cases, the costs of migrating to Joomla 2.5 were more or less the same as those of switching to a completely different CMS. Unfortunately, those administrators didn’t have the option of simply continuing to use Joomla 1.5.26, because a nasty security exploit was discovered nearly 1 week after Joomla 1.5.26’s life ended, and so they had to choose between the lesser of two evils, and for many of them, the lesser of two evils was switching to another CMS. Needless to say, Joomla’s competitors gained many new converts at Joomla’s expense.

In our opinion, had Joomla created a “one-click” migration script to migrate sites from Joomla 1.5 to Joomla 2.5, the whole world would’ve been a better place (well, not the whole world, but most of it!). Instead, Joomla took an extremely passive stance and it didn’t even release a single official tool for any type of migration from 1.5 to 2.5 – Joomla didn’t even create a tool to migrate core content (such as articles, categories, and menu items), the only thing that Joomla did to address this issue was to point its users to 3rd party tools that required some considerable voodoo skills for them to work as they should. The migration process from 1.5 to 2.5 left a very sour taste in the mouth of everyone who used Joomla…

Fast forward to now, and Joomla is repeating the exact same mistake of 2012. Joomla 2.5’s support will end by the end of this month (December 2014) and there are no real automated tools to migrate from Joomla 2.5 to Joomla 3.3. Yes, Joomla insists that it’s a mini-migration from 2.5 to 3.3 and that it is extremely easy and that it takes a few minutes, but, the truth, it is not. In fact, it is far from being a mini-migration (it is a real migration), and it takes more or less the same time to migrate from Joomla 1.5 to Joomla 2.5. Let us give you an example…

At itoctopus, we only use our tools to migrate from one version of Joomla to another (note that we modify the code of these tools for each website that we migrate), but, we got a very small website (less than 100 pages and a couple of well-supported 3rd party extensions) to migrate this past week, and so we thought we can just do the migration by following Joomla’s guide, and so we did. Here’s what we saw when we finished the 5 minute migration…

Table ‘#__postinstall_messages’ doesn’t exist SQL=SHOW FULL COLUMNS FROM `#__postinstall_messages`

Hmmm…. The table #__postinstall_messages wasn’t created. Odd. So we created it manually in phpMyAdmin. We thought that would fix the problem, but when we refreshed the homepage, here’s what we saw:

Notice: Undefined property: ContentController::$input in /home/[username]/public_html/administrator/components/com_content/controller.php on line 39

Fatal error: Call to a member function get() on a non-object in /home/[username]/public_html/administrator/components/com_content/controller.php on line 39

Not a problem. We deleted the controller.php file, but then we got another error…

Fatal error: Call to undefined method JFactory::getXMLParser() in /plugins/system/nonumberelements/helpers/parameters.php on line 93

OK. That is a 3rd party extension – let’s just disable it and see if the website works…

A quick refresh threw another error in our faces…

500 – JHtmlBehavior::mootools not found.

While becoming a bit frustrated, we fixed the above problem by including MooTools the Joomla 3.3 way in the template.

Refreshing the homepage generated another error that had to do with a specific extension, so we thought, we can just update that extension from Joomla’s backend (we were able to login to the backend).

Unfortunately, when we clicked on the Updates are available link (located on the left side-panel under the Maintenance section on the homepage of Joomla’s backend) we got the following error:

Unknown column ‘a.extra_query’ in ‘field list’ SQL=SELECT DISTINCT a.update_site_id, a.type, a.location, a.last_check_timestamp, a.extra_query FROM #__update_sites AS a WHERE a.enabled = 1

And so we tried to fix the database by clicking on the Fix button on the upper left corner on the Extensions -> Extension Manager -> Database page, but we got the following error:

Unknown column ‘title_alias’ in ‘#__content’ SQL=ALTER TABLE `#__content` CHANGE `title_alias` `title_alias` VARCHAR( 255 ) CHARACTER SET utf8 COLLATE utf8_bin NOT NULL DEFAULT ”;

At this point, we started browsing the Internet for the best practices for committing suicide painlessly and professionally. But then we thought, while we really wanted to go through this migration the Joomla way, our lives, sanity, and families are much more important, and so we reverted the website to a previous backup, we re-did the migration our way, and this time we were actually able to finish it successfully.

And then we started thinking, we are established Joomla experts and we failed at making the built-in migration work for us when migrating a very, very simple Joomla website. So what about those who are trying to migrate from 2.5 to 3.3 and who are not experts? How will they be able to migrate their sites by themselves? And what if they can’t afford to pay us or other Joomla developers to migrate their sites? Will they stick with Joomla if they can’t? Or will they not?

Obviously, Joomla users are once again at a crossroad, they will either continue with Joomla, or they won’t, and probably only those who are extremely loyal to Joomla will choose the former option, because many Joomla users were burnt back in 2012, and they are less likely to be willing to get burnt a couple of years later, and a couple of years later, and a couple of year later…

So, what can Joomla do?

In order to prevent a massive and continuous hemorrhage of users, Joomla must create a migration tool that actually works, instead of this not even half-baked solution that Joomla has (e.g. by switching from LTS to STS and then updating the website). Failing that, Joomla’s userbase will substantially shrink in 2015-2016, possibly never returning to its 2014 levels anytime in the near or distant future…

Now, if you are trying to migrate your Joomla website but it’s not working out well for you, then please let us know. We will do the migration for you in as little time as possible and for a very affordable price. Oh, and we will ensure that the frontend of the migrated website will look and work exactly like your old website!

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