Tridion 2011 Upgrade in 10 Easy Steps

May 4th, 2012 | Posted by Robert Curlette in Tridion

Tridion 2011 provides too many benefits for the organization and development team to be overlooked any longer. I recently upgraded a system from Tridion 5.3 to Tridion 2011 and it was a lot less scary than I originally thought. Tridion has provided us a better installer and documentation than past versions and an amazing new product full of features. Having the right approach and knowing where to focus your efforts are a key to a successful upgrade. In this post I hope to share some of my experiences with the upgrade and provide some tips to help make it an easy one.

1. Read the install manual and upgrade manual.

No, really, please print it, sit in your favorite chair or lotus position, and read it – all. The Live Documentation site also has it online. Now, go back and circle or highlight things you need to double-check in your environment such as Java version installed on your Deployer or Broker, SQL Server SP version, and the version of Windows Server you are running on the CMS.

2. Upgrade the Database

Tridion provides a great DB tool for upgrading the database, located in the Installer/Database folder named ‘DatabaseManager.exe’.  My database was a 5.3 SP1 SQL Server 2005 DB and the upgrade ran perfectly and was done in around 15 minutes. This is a no risk step and in my experience always works.  Please backup your DB before you begin.

Upgrade both the CMS Database and the Broker Database.

The tool requires the SA account (or one with equivalent permissions) and the password of the TCMDBUser and other Tridion user accounts.

3. Upgrade the CMS

Very easy with the included installer.  The installer has been improved and adds more manual detail control over what is installed. Don’t check Audience Manager (Outbound Email) or Translation Manager (world Server / TMS) unless you are using them. Not nice to have unused Tridion pieces installed and not configured in your environment – and also not nice to configure something you’re not using. You can add them back later using the same installer files (not add/remove programs because this throws an error – just use the original installer file).

This is a next, next, next process and also very low risk. Great job by the installer team.

If you have SiteEdit code in your templates, first install and register SiteEdit extension DLL.   Then add the Extension to the Tridion MMC snap-in.

4. Test the CMS

Login to the CMS and you will see a new GUI Screen and a progress indicator. Be patient – the new Tridion GUI takes longer to load on the first time – but after it is about 20-30% faster on the same hardware. Sweet! 🙂

Things to test:

– Opening and saving Components. Do you use the Event System?  See below for tips on the Event System.

– Previewing. Do you use SiteEdit? You must re-register the SiteEdit DLL in the Tridion MMC SnapIn.

– Creating a new Component and new Page.

– Custom pages – The Tridion 2011 TOM API is fully supported and backwards compatible. These custom pages should just work. However, many of the original Powertools will not work because they re-used js from the old Tridion GUI. A new Powertools initiative has been started and a Page Publisher tool is already finished. Please join the fun and help us make the 2011 Powertools better.

– Publishing – not yet! Wait until the next step.

5. Installing the Broker and Deployer

There is not a nice installer here and it is a manual copy / paste action, especially if you’re using a Java based Content Delivery system. There are a lot of new 3rd party jar files and yes, you need them all.

– Add the SQL Server jar from Microsoft if using SQL Server. Please note there are different jar files for Java versions. Java 5 requires sqljdbc.jar and Java 6 requries sqljdbc4.jar. Tridion documentation for Content Delivery has more details.

– Create a cd_storage_conf file – The cd_broker_conf file is deprecated and replaced with a new cd_storage_conf. Grab the example one from the install folder, Tridion 2011 SP1\Content Delivery\resources\configurations, edit the connection string to the DB, and define the ItemTypes mapping.

– Update the logging config – Another new item here is the logback logger used. It has its own config file and has extensive documentation. This is one of many examples where Tridion took great, existing frameworks and put them under the new Tridion 2011 architecture – great job.

6. Test the Deployer

– Publish a Page with only a Page Template producing static HTML and no Component Presentations. This tests the basic ability to publish to the Filesystem. Try to view the published page from the website after. Works – yay! Doesn’t work – double check your deployer storage_config.

– Publish a Page with Component Presentations. This will add link data to the Broker and insert records in a DB or write new files on the filesystem, depending on your bindings in the config.

– Publish a dynamic Component Presentation to the Broker DB. This tests your Broker DB connection. If it does not work, go review the cd_storage_conf.

7. Test the Broker

The broker API is 100% improved and still is fully backwards compatible. All my 5.3 broker calls worked perfectly.  If you’ve written your own SQL against the broker db you should test it well.

– View one of your existing pages that queries the Broker. If you do not have any yet, you can see the Tridion Content Broker Query documentation or my JSP example for some inspiration.

– Configure cache channel support

– Load test all your pages using Broker Queries.  They’ve re-written the Broker and you want to confirm all performs as well as before.

Stop and congratulate yourself for performing a successful upgrade. However, we’re not yet finished since you’ve likely developed some custom code in custom pages, event system, or gui extensions that also needs to be reviewed and tested.

Now we know we can publish our site and our thousands of lines of templates work fine.

8. Custom Pages and GUI Customizations

If you wrote your own custom pages using the Tridion API there is a very good chance this works 100%.  For me I had around 20 custom pages and all worked perfectly.  For solutions you’ll want to update them to use the new Tridion 2011 dlls in the client folder.  Tridion TOM is 100% supported in the 2011 but has a deprecated status.  Our custom pages should work 100% unless the Tridion ASP or JS GUI files are required (most times not, except in cases like Powertools).

We’ve been warned not to change the existing Tridion GUI asp and js files and the warning was for times like this – when we upgrade and lose those very handy little icons in the GUI.  This is the tricky area where someone modified Tridion GUI js or asp files.  I would re-evaluate each customization and think if you really must have it, and if so if you could rewrite it using a Tridion 2011 GUI extension.

I have written a few articles to help you get started with 2011 GUI extensions.  Fear not – the Tridion R&D team has provided us a great new GUI Architecture that is more open and allows us to legally extend the GUI in many supported ways. 🙂 I have written a tutorial on creating your first GUI Extension and another about getting a quick start adapting the GUI Extension tutorial code for a new extension. The key here is expectations setting and planning. Do you really use all those extensions every day? Can the editors live without some of them while they’re being re-written in the new framework? Can you write an ASP custom page now in your old version (or also 2011) that does the same thing until the new shiny extension is ready?

9. Event System

Open the Cms config mmc, events section, what has a 1 is turned on.  For each of these it is a good idea to test it.  There can be complex logic, so take your time with this step.  Also you will need to configure the Cms to use your legacy event system.  Tridion re-wrote the event system for 2011 and I have a small article here about getting started.  But you can also keep running your old code.

– Tridion 2011 supports the old Event System and also provides a completely new framework for building a new one. The new Event System is really nice and the Tridion 2011 Delta Training is a good place to start learning more about it.

– Read about the old Event System support here.

– Use the Legacy Events Adapter for your old Event System. It is highly recommended to re-write the old Events to the Tridion 2011 Event System, but it is not mandatory before using Tridion 2011. This is something to be planned with the development team.

– You can also write a small script that resaves all components to trigger the oncomponentsave event, or to trigger other events.  This is a good idea in general as a way to test Event System functionality.

10. Templates

– All VBScript templates are 100% supported.

– SiteEdit?  I use SiteEdit and needed to register the SiteEdit dll using RegAsm (for SiteEdit 1.3) and also add it to the MMC snapin.

– Upgrade your templates to use the new Razor Mediator. It is very fast to write templates with Razor syntax, it is similar to VBScript but a lot more powerful, and much easier to learn than the DWT mediator or the XSLT mediator.  This assumes you know how to create a Compound Component Template.

Get the Razor Mediator

VBScript to Razor Guide

Razor introduction article


Upgrading the Tridion system is much easier with the new Tridion 2011 tools and support. The community is more active than ever and there are many nice Tridion 2011 extensions available from Tridion World.  In my experience the upgrade was a lot easier than previous upgrades – a real surprise when I think they replaced or upgraded a lot of the technologies under the platform.  Congrats to the installer and R & D teams!  We also have great new frameworks available in the new version, such as .NET 4.0, Solr, Logback, WCF, etc. With a sensible plan and step by step testing of various components we can perform the upgrade with ease and confidence. I hope this article gives you some hope that the upgrade is within reach and with some careful planning can be achieved with little risk.

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One Response

  • Great article Rob,

    Great article, thanks.

    One thing I’d suggest is that when you actually start the upgrade keep your printed copy for notes/highlights but *do* refer to the specific steps using the online documentation.

    This documentation can be updated without notification and if you’re using a printed copy from yesterday/from a month ago it could have a new tweak missing (such as the tables that are installed for Oracle broker which I noticed a few months ago)

    Hey #SDL perhaps allow us to register for notification on updates?

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