It could be that Joomla has reminded you that it there is an update available. What does that mean if you have a site built with the Protostar template?

Each Joomla upgrade has various changes to the core Joomla files. There also can be changes to the Protostar template.

So should you upgrade your Joomla core files? Yes.

Keeping up with the Joomla Upgrades is important

Each new release of Joomla introduces new features, changes to older features and bug fixes. Most importantly, upgrades address known problems with security for earlier Joomla releases (in most cases).

It is important for the security of your Joomla site to install each new upgrade.

Upgrading can prove to be troublesome if custom edits were made to the Joomla Core files as these files are overwritten with each upgrade. There can also be issues with 3rd party extensions and templates.

What to do before upgrading your Joomla installation

The first thing you should do before upgrading is to backup your site's database and all folders and files. You want to be able to refer back to your previous files and you want to be able to restore these files if there are problems with the new installation. Never run an upgrade without doing a compete backup.

You should also check to be sure that the extensions and template you have installed will work with the latest release of Joomla. Visit extensions.joomla.org and the home site for your extensions to be sure that each extension will work with the latest release.

If you have a live site, a site with many custom changes, a complicated site or you have installed many extensions, it may be better to run the upgrade on a copy of your site on your own computer or in a sub-folder on your host. This new site should have its own separate database. When you have all the problems fixed, then move this new site to your main hosting environment.

What exactly does an Joomla Upgrade do?

 When you run the upgrade on your Joomla installation, it overwrites the previous core files with the new core files. It will also overwrite the included template files which are the Protostar, Beez, Isis and Hathor folders and files.

Any customization that you made to the core files or the included template files will be overwritten. If you added additional files, such as a custom.css, these files will not be overwritten, but since the index.php will be overwritten, you will loose the lines of code that link to the custom.css.

This is why it is important to make Template Overides when you want to edit the core files. When you create overrides in Template Manager, the files are placed into the proper subfolders in the html folder for your template. These files will not be overwritten when you upgrade Joomla.

Upgrading your Joomla installation should not affect the settings that you have made to your site from the Administrative Menu. When you run the upgrade through the proper steps from the Joomla Administrative Menu, the files will be installed and the necessary changes to the database will be made automatically. You can not just manually upload the Joomla files via ftp because the proper changes to the database will not be made.

What is new with the latest Joomla release?

The main changes to the 3+ releases are improved front end module editing and decoupling of weblinks. If your original Joomla installation was created with a version prior to 3.4.0, the weblinks component will still appear in the Component dropdown. Any weblinks created will still be present.

If you install a fresh Joomla 3+ installation, the weblinks component will no longer be present. If you want to use weblinks, and have a you can install extensions for this functionality. There are also changes to the reCaptcha and the new release implements the UploadShied for increased security when users upload files.

Other changes have happened with each release. You can visit joomla.org to see view the changes.

Each release is tested prior to the stable release

Joomla developers test each new release and provide development versions to the developers of extensions prior to having the upgrade available through Joomla.org. This doesn't mean that everything will work perfectly when the stable release is posted.

Once the general public starts using the release, the weaknesses are found and hopefully reported. Some developers like to hang back and wait to install new releases for a few weeks to see if additional bugs are found. The problem is that if no one adapts the new release, then the bugs aren't found.

The real problem comes with the 3rd party Joomla extensions. The extensions that you have on your site may have conflicts with the new release. Do some research for the extensions you have installed and see if problems are reported. Look at the Joomla forum and any forums or support sites for the extensions.

What steps should you take when upgrading if you use the Protostar template?

Unlike other third party templates, the Protostar template comes with the new Joomla 3+ release files. This means that any files in the Protostar folder under templates, will be overwritten when you upgrade. Your custom changes to the style sheet and to index.php will be lost.

Options for keeping your custom changes to the Protostar template

Option 1: Copy and rename your Protostar template

You can choose to copy and rename your Protostar template. You must do this using the proper steps. If you have your template in a folder with a name other than Protostar, your files will not be overwritten with the upgrade. You do need to recognize that your copied template will not have any of the changes made to the Protostar template with the new upgrade.

If you have made template overrides in the proper manner by placing the override files in the html folder for Protostar, these files will be copied with this method.

  • Go to Template Manager -> click on Protostar in the Template column (not the Style column).
  • This opens up the Customise Template screen. Click on button that reads Copy Template.
  • A dialog box comes up with a text box for the name of the new template. Use an appropriate name for your new template, no dashes or spaces.
  • This makes a new copy of the template folder and all of its files AND adds this information to the database.
  • You must then set this new template as the default template for your site in the main screen for Template Manager.
  • Test the site on your browser to see if all of your custom changes appear as they should.

You can now upgrade your Joomla installation without your template files being overwritten.

Note: It is best to copy and rename the Protostar template when you first install Joomla. Set this new template to be the default. You then make all edits to the copied template.

Warning: Sometimes there are errors or problems if you copy the Protostar Template and set the new one as the default. Some settings will need to be duplicated in Template Manager for the copied template.

Option 2: Replace the new files in Protostar with your old files

After you upgraded your Joomla extension, you can choose to pull the files from your backup copy and simple replace them in the new Protostar folder. If you made custom changes to the index.php file, the templateDetails.xml file or the template.css file in the css folder, you can try just swapping the files out.

There can be some problems with this method. You won't have any of the changes made to these files if there were changes made with the new upgrade.

If you made a custom.css file, it should still be there, and not be overwritten as it is not one of the files with the Protostar template. The same goes for any template overrides in the html folder.

Option 3: Replace the changes made to the files

If you documented the changes you made to the index.php and templateDetails.xml file, you can choose to simply redo these changes in the upgraded version of Protostar. 

For example, if you linked to a separate custom style sheet, you will need to add that link back in.

This method will have any of the changes made to the Protostar template that came with the upgrade.


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