Updating your website to Craft CMS 3

garrett’s headshot By Garrett, 1 Mar 2019

This article is about update your website to Craft 3. If you're looking to upgrade to Craft 4 you should read Update Craft CMS 3 to 4.

Since 2012 Craft CMS has rapidly increased in popularity and been adopted by an ever-growing list of household brands. Craft's modern approach to content management, and extreme design flexibility, has garnered high praise from both developers and content editors. It offers users an expanding roadmap of modern features and has a thriving community of developers.

Rapid growth in popularity also means rapid growth in product maturity. In April 2018 Craft launched version 3 and announced the end-of-life dates for Craft 2 in early 2019. Now that the Craft 2 end-of-life date has come and gone, it is important to upgrade your Craft CMS website now rather than waiting.

What does Craft 2 end-of-life really mean?

As of January 2020, Craft 2 is no longer marketed, sold or maintained by its creators. Craft 3 is already on the market and Craft 4 is in the works, so continuing to maintain an old version doesn’t make sense. So, straight from the horse’s mouth:

  • Craft 2 bug fixes were supported through January 31, 2020. As of January 31, 2020 Craft is no longer fixing issues that creep into the software.
  • Important Craft 2 security fixes will be supported through January 31, 2021. After January 31, 2021 Craft will no longer address security issues and vulnerabilities that creep into the software.

New features and benefits of Craft 3

Craft 3 is packed with new features and benefits that can be easily introduced into your website once the upgrade is complete. Outside of its increased security, below are some of our favorite features that both content editors and website owners love.

Speed and performance

The new version is three times faster than its old self, a big win on the front-end for search engines like Google who analyze website speeds for page rankings. It also means the Control Panel will respond much quicker for content editors and website owners.

Image editing

You can now edit images in Craft and set focal points from within the Control Panel, eliminating the need for external image editing tools or software to crop, flip or rotate images.

Multi-Site Manager

The new Multi-Site Manager allows you to manage multiple websites through a single Craft 3 install, eliminating the need for numerous site logins for content edits. Your websites can share both channels and content types, or even have their own settings within the same Craft install.

Craft has also introduced a new plugin store, a soft delete feature that allows you to move items into the trash rather than permanently erasing them, and many other new and improved features in Craft 3.

Third-party Craft plugin updates

Craft has committed to supporting bug and security fixes through January 2020 and 2021, but third-party plugin developers will decide their own end-of-life policies. Most plugin developers have begun moving to Craft 3, although some will continue to provide minimal support for existing Craft 2 plugins. Our team of developers at Good Work believe this is the most important reason to upgrade to Craft 3 sooner than later.

While plugins were previously managed and installed through code, Craft has released a new Plugin Store, rich with new integrations and tools to make your website run as smooth as possible; all managed through the Control Panel.

Scope and schedule your Craft 3 upgrade

Now that the end-of-life date for Craft 2 has passed, and depending on the size and complexity of your website it’s good practice to start planning the upgrade process as soon as possible. Below are some helpful items to think through when estimating the time it will take to upgrade to Craft 3:

  • Make sure your server meets the Craft 3 requirements, which are slightly different than Craft 2.
  • Upgrade your website and plugins to Craft 2.6.2788 or newer before moving to Craft 3.
  • Audit all third-party plugins to make sure they have a Craft 3 version available. If they don't, contact the plugin developer to see if and when their plugins will be available for Craft 3. If they don't plan to upgrade their plugins, you'll need a different upgrade path for that particular feature of your website.
  • Check to see if you have any custom plugin(s) created specifically for your website. If so you'll need to update those custom plugin(s).
  • Review the instructions on Craft's website for performing the Craft 3 upgrade.
  • Once you have a good idea of the time and effort it will take to upgrade your website be sure to schedule the upgrade as soon as possible now that the Craft 2 end-of-life date has passed.

Further details can be found in the Upgrading from Craft 2 section of the Craft 3 Documentation. Feel free to reach out if you have any questions.

Further reading