I'm responsible for an infrastructure that includes over 250 server and 100 workstations. NOTHING goes to production before being tested. That environment also has 5 WordPress based websites. For point releases, I snapshot the site, apply the release and test. For full version release, I'll create a full copy of the site to upgrade. If we were running vanilla Joomla, I'd be a bit weary of upgrading live. Seeing as we're running non-standard customized templates, we need to be able to test the upgrade. It comes down as to whether URJ values our sites for what they are, the public face of our business. I'm not entirely sure URJ has fully grasped the concept that by offering this service, They have entered the realm of being a commercial hosting provider. And for those who would make the argument that this is beng given to us for free, talk to your treasurer about MUM dues...
Updates and Testing
I know that our sites are being backed up in bulk, and that Joel has successfully restored individual sites.
Given that we are working without a net (i.e., no test environment), does anyone have thoughts about testing? These updates can be rather pervasive, and it isn't easy to test everything on your site. At the same time, it isn't very pleasant to find out about a problem from a site visitor.
Since the whole system is put together from odds and ends of code, some commercial and much of it open source, it's almost impossible for me to determine what has been changed (hence might have been broken).
Is there a resource available, or could such a resource be made available, that at least summarizes the modules, APIs, and such that have been changed?
I know that version control is a nightmare for Joel (and welcome back to the frying pan, Jared), so maybe I'm asking too much.
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Hello Jerry, I am not 100 percent sure I understand everything, but I want to say that our website has already upgraded and as I mentioned in another thread I have encountered several issues that I would say are linked to
which is in my experience with other websites that I maintain in WordPress always what makes problems with an upgrade. Have you checked the Joomla! resources and would this answer the questions you are asking?
Pardon me if I did not answer your question exactly, as I said I may not be understanding what the problem is you are fearing.
I agree that our websites are really important! I have been working with all my heart in making the best window for our small congregation at a time of big turmoil for us, and I am very proud of the result. I cringe and feel guilty when something is pointed to me as "not working" and we are in the process of registration for a new combined religious school that is a highly sensitive moment because another temple has seen its own school combined with ours and their website is not even capable of updating a page with a link, lest host an online registration process. Jared helped me find the bug in less than half an hour after I mentioned my problem. I am sure that URJ is sensitive to our issues and willing to help.
I personally think that using Joomla! was a great decision and I like that it is so open and full of possibilities (even though I am struggling with learning all the intricacies).
Laurence, I'm not sure exactly what your opinion about the upgrade process is. You mentioned that you've encountered a variety of problems. That's the point: we have no way of testing our particular sites; and to expect Joel and Jared to do it for us is completely unreasonable. It also makes no sense for them to fix individual web sites on a one by one basis (as I know Jared and Joel have done). That just makes version control even more difficult.
As for the link you sent me to, here is a relevant section of the official Joomla site:
Okay, I’m ready and want to upgrade. How do I do the upgrade?
- First, review the system requirements for Joomla! 3.x and make sure that your server environment meets those requirements.
- Second, make sure that all your extensions (especially, your templates) are Joomla 3.x compatible.
- Third, create a test site and test the upgrade on the test site first. <=====================================================
- Fourth, consult a trusted developer if you’re not 100% certain about anything.
- Fifth, make a full backup of your site (files and database).
If you check many of the other tidbits, you'll see this same phrase over and over again: check with the extension developer.
Serge is right: URJ has backed themselves into the role of service provider. There has to be an agreed upon quality of service, and there isn't. Clearly, some of us expect 100%. Given my professional background, I know that is totally unrealistic; however, without even a vague statement of QoS, URJ is giving each of us carte blanche to set the red line wherever we decide. That isn't fair to Joel and Jared, nor to us.
As for Joomla being a good choice, that's quite possibly true. I'm always leery of running any "business" using open source software. I've had plenty of experience using open source software since the 60s (although it wasn't called that). There are many reasons for my unease:
- Although a good developer will do as much unit testing as possible, the end users are the only ones who can do end-to-end system testing.
- Many once dedicated developers have dropped out of sight when they started dating, paying rent, having children, or (in some tragic cases) died.
Yes, sometimes a commercial software will be orphaned; but there are ways of protecting against that. My father was able to save his business because he had forced his software vendor to put the source code in escrow. When the vendor bit the dust, my father was able to make the source code available to some of the laid off employees so that they could continue to maintain it. You can't do that with open source software because of the sheer number of developers involved.
Open source developers have no obligations to support their code. In the case of Joomla, there is a patchwork of both open source and commercial software. There is no one place to turn to if a new version of a commercial extension fails to work with an open source plugin. Like it or not, URJ has taken on that role. They aren't merely a hosting provider, as Serge suggested, but they are a software integrator.
Since some web sites are being used to handle financial transactions, there might (or might not, I don't know) be some cause for legal action against the URJ if something went wrong. If I were Joel or Jared, I would investigate what kind of insurance URJ has and if it protected me. I wouldn't want to lose my house because there's a security hole in the Paypal plugin.
Well said Jerry. From day 1, I got the feeling that our websites were somewhat treated with a "well it's a free service" attitude. I took over as webmaster about 5 years ago. At the time, we had a standard HTML site, that was not updated frequently, and not visited often. Within a year, we moved to a CMS that had been developed by one of our member. When WB 2.0 was announced, the added promised features made us switch. We now rely on the site as our primary means of communication with our members. I can't really have it go down for an extended period of time. That will get worse if the donation module ever gets fixed. URJ needs to take this seriously and doing a major upgrade without a test environment is just bad practice.
Thank you so much for sharing your views, I enjoy that conversation very much and find that I agree with many of the points that you are bringing up.
Not all of them, though. I, too, have a similar experience as Serge, when I volunteered to take over an outdated website that had a static homepage and a very cumbersome basic CMS that was barely adapting to the growing interactive needs of a connected world. When RJ Web builder came, I was very excited at the possibilities, and I am still. I personally like the open-source philosophy. I probably have a very different background and I am not a big fan of lawsuits, liabilities and all what comes with this part of a litigious culture.
For a code of rules, I prefer to use the torah and I would enjoy a good pilpul much more than trying to figure out what URJ could be liable for if a family decided not to join because they got frustrated at not being able to make their payment online. This is simply not how I envisioning my role and what I believe interactive websites can bring to our communities in this world.
As to the issue at end and the Upgrade and Testing of the various extension, I found out that some of them are misbehaving, and I indeed wish I had more control than I seem to have, because I neither hold the licence codes - and the access to the documentation that I remember I had been whining about in the past on the old forum, nor have control over the updates (I have tried to install updates that are offered in my control panel and it is not updating, so I assume I had no sufficient permissions, asked Jared or Joel who probably have more important things to do than to tend to my non urgent request, so I have to live with the patience that goes with sharing the fate of a community).
If I had wanted to be on my own I would still be with the horrible static homepage and not being able to do anything at all with our website.
I really believe that our "free websites" are not free, because they are one of the services that we get with the membership dues, and that it has not yet become one of the strategic priorities of our Boards that sufficient resources are allocated to marketing and communications.
Because I truly believe that the future of our communities has to be in connections more than in a business model (I pay dues therefore the "provider" owes me a result and if I don't get it, I sue the provider...), I am ready to swallow some of the pills that go with the process of shifting cultures and mentalities. It takes time and a lot of bruises.
I hope I have made a little sense.
Yes, it is a process that is not going as smoothly as one would dream, but all in all, I foresee more benefits than losses in the end, given that we keep collaborating and building together.
If I told my boss I was doing a major upgrade of our customer facing infrastructure and that I was just going to catch the bugs as they came along, he'd rightly fire me. On top of that, taking care of the website is not my job. If things don't work. I get calls and emails to fix them. I may not be able to get to it for a day or more. I don't want to deal with "not quite right" in my live system.
It appears that URJ updated our web site without letting me know that it was about to happen, nor that it had happened! I was blind sided by this. Parts of our web site now have formatting problems. I only found out about the change an hour or two ago, so I haven't had a chance to check the functionality of all of the components we're using.
I expect to start getting emails from our board and congregation members, asking me what happened. Now I have to go over the site with a fine tooth comb. I had other plans for today (or however long it will take).
Joel and Jared: what on earth were you thinking! If I pulled a stunt like that, I'd have trouble finding another job.
I owe Joel and Jared an apology: they did send email to me, but it never got to me (nor was it bounced). Since they have the correct email address, and I've been getting their other communications all along, this shall remain a mystery for all time.
That aside, I still have to go through the site. I know that category blogs are now formatted differently, so I have to go fix that. The ZOO component didn't get updated correctly, and Joel just handled that for me.
I got that email yesterday. Interesting wording. It says to not make changes to my site as they would not be reflected in the updated site. To me that means they are not updating the live site. They take a point in time copy, upgrade it and replace the live site. All they needed was to figure out a way to give us access to that update site for testing.
Just checked my site tonight. It is completely broken. The home page is all over the place. Menus on the left of pages are now on the right. Newsletter pages just errors out. I asked Joel to revert back. I'm really mad at this.
In the old forums, we could share bugs/fixes/tips and things to watch out for. Instead of bemoaning the overall implementation, I'd be very interested in hearing about specific upgrade issues rather than mixing them in here with opinions on strategy. I'm going to start a new thread (topic?) in the general discussions about specific issues with the upgrade.