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One year anniversary of Silverstripe CMS 5

On year on from the release of Silverstripe CMS 5, we take stock of how the experience has turned out so far and how it has altered our thinking on what’s next.

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6 months ago, our Solution Director, Stephen Makrogianni, and I shared our vision for the future of Silverstripe CMS during our Keynote at StripeCon EU. While the CMS Squad and the Open Source community have been busy collaborating to improve the CMS, it’s worth taking stock of how things have developed since then and how this has altered our thinking on what’s next. 

View the StripeCon EU 2023 Keynote on YouTube.

How is Silverstripe CMS 4 going?

While we no longer ship new features for Silverstripe CMS 4, we have kept our commitment to existing customers. 

Thanks to automated workflows, we’ve been able to backport most CMS 5 bug fixes to CMS 4. We’ve shipped over 380 bug fixes and small changes  for Silverstripe CMS 4.13 in the last year, including 7 security patches.

Silverstripe CMS 4.13 is still a secure platform for hosting web applications. However, be aware that the end-of-life of Silverstripe CMS 4 is approaching and we are about to pull back from our Silverstripe CMS 4 support.

Here are the important dates:

  • April 2024 – Silverstripe CMS 4 will only receive security fixes for high impact or critical vulnerabilities
  • April 2025 – Silverstripe CMS 4.13 will be end-of-life in.

Now is the perfect time to start planning your CMS 5 upgrade if you haven’t already.

One year of Silverstripe CMS 5

We are fast approaching the first anniversary of Silverstripe CMS 5. We've built and upgraded many Silverstripe CMS 5 projects and are currently hosting over 50..

As expected, no significant regression has been identified and upgrades have been straight forward. So far our Silverstripe CMS 5 experience has been very positive.

Silverstripe CMS 5 was explicitly developed with the intention of avoiding radical changes. While this minimised upgrade woes, the average content author probably didn’t notice much difference going from Silverstripe CMS 4.13 to 5.0.

Silverstripe CMS 5.1 saw a plethora of performance improvements and a refreshed logo. 

In the Silverstripe CMS 5.2 release next month, content authors will be able to see differences in their day-to-day CMS use, including: 

  • a new LinkField module to make it easier for content authors to manage links
  • a searchable DropDown field
  • an improved UI for selecting/deselecting files.

For developers, Silverstripe CMS 5.2 will bring:

  • a better IDE experience with the introduction of generics
  • a new API for managing file variants
  • official PHP 8.3 support.

View the Silverstripe CMS 5.2.0-beta changelog if you want a sneak peak of what’s coming up.

Projects that upgrade to the latest version of Silverstripe CMS 5 can expect substantial improvements over Silverstripe CMS 4.13.

The Innovation Boom-Bust Cycle

At StripeCon EU 2023, I discussed the “Innovation Boom-Bust Cycle”. We picture the development of Silverstripe CMS as a cycle of “expansion” and “contraction”:

  • “Expansion” is where new ideas are explored and new features are developed.
  • “Contraction” is where bad ideas are pruned and low value features are removed.

We’re currently in the “Boom” phase of Silverstripe CMS 5. We’re adding new features and trying out new concepts. In the “Boom” phase, we can experiment and take risks, because we know that in the “Bust” phase, we’ll be able to terminate the experiments that don’t pan out.

Following the Silverstripe CMS 5.2 release in April 2023, we will be shipping Silverstripe CMS 5.3 in October and Silverstripe CMS 5.4 in April 2024.

The next big piece of work we’ll be looking at will make it easier for developers to build new CMS UIs and provide bespoke CMS experiences for their content authors.

Looking ahead to Silverstripe CMS 6

Last week, we created our development branch for Silverstripe CMS 6. We are still very much in the planning stage of Silverstripe CMS 6, so we can’t say for sure what will or won’t be in this new major release.

Silverstripe CMS 5 gave us an opportunity to upgrade all our dependencies to recent versions. Because of the tight time frame on Silverstripe CMS 5, that didn’t leave us a lot of chance to make many other foundational changes.

We will be upgrading dependencies in Silverstripe CMS 6, but this will be a far less arduous process this time around giving us the opportunity to pay down technical debt and fix long running problems that we didn’t get to in Silverstripe CMS 5.

We also expect that we will be revising our supported module policies. We are currently looking after about 80 modules. This means that our CMS Squad team is spread pretty thin. Reducing our commitment to marginal modules will leave us more time to look after the high value modules.

Refocusing our efforts on areas that deliver the most value is a natural part of the “Bust” section of the Innovation Cycle.

It may seem paradoxical to be thinking of Silverstripe CMS 6 one year after the release of Silverstripe CMS 5. However, this is part of the release model we adopted 2 years ago–small, frequent major releases that are predictable and minimise upgrade cost.

Look at the Silverstripe CMS major release policy for more details.

Our experience has taught us that delaying major upgrades ultimately increases the total cost of owning a website. By setting aside time and money to keep your website on a supported version of Silverstripe CMS, you save yourself painful and complicated upgrades down the track.

About the author
Maxime Rainville

Maxime is the CMS Squad Team Lead. The CMS Squad is the team inside Silverstripe that looks after Silverstripe CMS day-to-day.

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