Upgrading SDL Tridion Sites 9 Databases

After playing around with installing SDL Tridion Sites 9 from scratch I wanted to know more about the database upgrade steps of this latest release when upgrading from an older version of Tridion.

SDL supports upgrading to SDL Tridion Sites 9 from one of the following versions directly:

  • SDL Web 8.5 (also known as SDL Tridion Sites 8.5)
  • SDL Web 8 with Cumulative Update 1
  • SDL Tridion 2013 SP1 HR1 (Hotfix Rollup 1)

Upgrading databases with unsupported items

As mentioned in our blog A First Look at SDL Tridion Sites 9, all of the long deprecated TOM API, VBScript, JScript and XSLT templates and VBScript-based Automatic Activities are not supported anymore in Sites 9. The full list can be found in SDL Docs. This also means that these items must be removed before upgrading.

SDL has made it easy to detect them before upgrading to Sites 9 by providing a precheck Powershell script descriptively called “Pre-Upgrade check Content Manager Database for not supported content.ps1”.  You can use this script before you upgrade the Content Manager database and it will display which items will need to be removed before you can successfully upgrade your Content Manager database to SDL Tridion Sites 9.

The Content Manager upgrade script will also check for the existence of these items, so you can also opt to run the upgrade script directly. The script will remove all of these unsupported items, but only if they don’t have a local copy and are not used by other items. If that is the case the upgrade will abort.

I tried the precheck script with a Tridion 8.5 environment which contains a VBScript Page Template and I tried it also with a Workflow Process Instance which contained a VBScript Automatic Activity and both times the PowerShell script was able to detect the unsupported items correctly:

The pre-upgrade script detects that there is a VBScript Page template

The pre-upgrade script detects that there is a VBScript automatic workflow activity

The Content Manager upgrade script detects that a there is a VBScript automatic workflow activity and halts after displaying the error because there are items using this item.

After I removed the VBScript Page Template and Workflow Process definition containing the VBScript automatic activity the upgrade of the Content Manager database completed successfully.

A point of attention is that the scripts are also checking if older versions of the unsupported items are existing, not only the most recent ones, so you need to get rid of the old versions too if they were based on these unsupported types! So you need to make sure all the listed items are not used anymore by other items and there are no local copies.

The Upgrade script aborted because an older version of the Test Page Template was based on VBScript, but the current version is a Compound Template.

You can remove the old versions of these templates with the Remove-TcmItemsOldVersions Powershell script from SDL.

Rolling upgrades

I also wanted to check out the highly anticipated upgrade feature called “rolling upgrade”, which makes upgrading an environment to SDL tridion Sites 9 so much more manageable, as it allows you to connect a Tridion 8.5 Content Manager server to a Tridion 9 Content Manager database and Tridion 9 Topology Manager database. Similarly you can connect a Tridion 8.5 microservice to a Tridion 9 Broker database. You can even have a Tridion 8.5 Content Manager and a Tridion 9 Content Manager connect simultenously to a Tridion 9 Content Manager database!

Note that the other way around will not work, so you cannot connect a Tridion 8.5 Content Manager database with a Tridion 9 Content Manager.

Also this new upgrade procedure is only available for environments running Tridion 8.5, so if you are coming from SDL Tridion 2013 SP1 or SDL Web 8.1, you cannot use this upgrade procedure, unless you first upgrade to Tridion 8.5. The rolling upgrade procedure is clearly described by SDL.

After upgrading the Content Manager and Topology Manager databases to Tridion 9 I can still connect with a Tridion 8.5 Content Manager flawlessly, so it looks like we can add a nice additional scenario to the upgrade scenario arsenal.