Posted by Tom Allen
Upgrading to the newest version of OpenText Web Experience Management (WEM) is almost always a good idea. Beyond the new features offered, each new version includes bug fixes that may not be available in previous versions. The newest versions of WEM have made upgrades easier by allowing new features to be selectively enabled as well as productizing many common extensions. But what should you know before moving ahead with the upgrade?
In previous versions of WEM, implementing multilingual was always an extension. Code had to be developed and a model had to be designed to support the translations. In 8.5, translations of content and channels are now supported out of the box.
The old in-context menu has been replaced with the new preview dock. The new interface allows you to drag and drop content onto the screen and build pages intuitively.
Previously OpenText Dynamic Portal Module (DPM) allowed content targeting in previous versions of WEM, but now it has been expanded to not require Portal and instead use external or internal segment providers.
The URLs in previous versions of WEM were based on content and channel names. The display name of the content or channel would be the name that shows up in your URL. If two items had the same name in the same path, problems would arise.
8.5 introduced a new concept called “Canonical URLs”. These are based off of new virtual fields that are automatically generated for each object in the system and guaranteed to be unique. The field can then be changed at any point afterwards, allowing you to have URL names be different from display names while avoiding conflicts. The old version of URLs can still be used and is configured on a site-by-site basis. To enable these virtual fields, the content type definitions for your content should be changed to show the virtual field widget.
WEM 8.5 adds support for Apache Solr, providing faster search results, easy extension, and open development standards. While you can still use Autonomy, OpenText Common Search, or a custom search provider in your site, searches inside the content workspaces can only use Solr.
This means that 8.5 does require you to install and configure Apache Solr before upgrading and you must re-index your content post-upgrade.
Translations in WEM 8.5 require the use of canonical URLs. Due to the way that WEM interprets what locale you are in, canonical URLs must be used so that the correct content can be displayed.
Tools are included to convert your existing content to the new multilingual model. Using these tools, you can keep your existing content and convert it to the new localization model without manually modifying your entire content library.
The rich text editor included in older versions of WEM was ePhox EditLive, a Java based editor. This has caused innumerable headaches for content authors and IT alike due to the requirements of installing Java on every contributor’s machine as well as keeping it up to date with the constant flow of security updates from Oracle.
There are two strategies you can take when performing an upgrade: in-place or parallel. In-place upgrades consist of upgrading the software on the same machine. Parallel upgrades consist of installing on a new machine and then migrating your content from the old system to the new system.
In-place is the fastest method of upgrading, but it can be risky and requires an extended downtime. If anything goes wrong in the process of the upgrade, it can be hard to roll back to a working version depending on the method of backup taken. If you are upgrading from a version prior to 8.1, this method requires you to upgrade to 8.1 before upgrading to 8.5.
Parallel upgrades offer a safety net of a working system to revert back to at any point. This allows you to spend as much time as you like upgrading and testing the new system before making it live. As more companies switch to virtual machines for the server hosting, this is made easier, as you don’t have the requirements of buying new physical hardware for the upgrade.
Also aiding in parallel upgrades is a new tool called OpenText Web Experience Management Motion. This allows you to pick and choose which content to migrate, apply transformations as the content is migrated, as well as create a repeatable process to keep content in sync between environments.
Upgrading WEM can be a challenging process, but opens up useful functionality, a cleaner user interface, and plenty of bug fixes. Have questions about upgrading?