The Magento (rocky road) Upgrade to 1.4

By Jon Saints - 13 Mar 2010

Magento released version 1.4 sometime ago. Before upgrading I watched the forums… sure enough, I saw upgrades failing and sites crashing left and right. Almost one month later, today I tried the upgrade from 1.3 to 1.4 using magento connect on a development installation of our shop.

The first upgrade failed. With errors in the Connect console. I found that I needed to disable the Blank theme. I switched to the default theme and removed the Blank theme using Magento Connect. After that upgrade proceeded without error… almost.

When I logged back into admin after the upgrade I experienced a common problem many other users have had. I saw only the Dashboard and the System menus in the admin section. Fortunately, helped me solve the problem. After that, I could see all the links in Admin.

Next, an error appeared, saying that indexes where out of date. Clicking the link, I was able to update indexes without trouble.

Next I tried to enable my old custom theme for magento 1.3. The file structure of the new themes were just too different. And I notice that Magento Connect had not copied in all the new theme files compared to a fresh install of 1.4. So, back to square one I went:

  1. Switched to the Default Default theme
  2. Disable cache
  3. Backed up everything!
  5. Update product indexes System -> Index management

At this point all the store data seemed to be working properly. From what I read in the forum, its best to re-create your old custom theme from scratch. So I did:

  1. Create folder /skin/frontend/myPackage/default
  2. Create folder /app/design/frontend/myPackage/default
  3. Copy /app/design/frontend/default/blank/etc and /app/design/frontend/default/blank/locale to /app/design/frontend/myPackage/default
  4. Copy /skin/frontend/default/blank/css and /skin/frontend/default/blank/images and skin/frontend/default/blank/favicon.ico to /skin/frontend/myPackage/default
  5. Enable my theme and test /admin/system_config/edit/section/design/
  6. From there I slowly copied in the CSS and images from the theme I had designed from magento 1.3

Upgrading Magento to 1.4 was painful and time consuming even with all the help of the poor souls who had crashed their sites before me. That said, using magento still seems to be faster and less time consuming that building my own ecommerce solution from scratch. Given the time it takes to make Magento  perform well and maintain its updates, Shopify’s pricing does look more attractive and reasonable.

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