No more prolonging of ELTS versions after the initial 3 years

The TYPO3 roadmap has a clear release strategy. After the regular maintenance period of 1.5 years, there is an additional 1.5 years of LTS coverage. In addition, it is possible to book ELTS plans with TYPO3 GmbH for another maximum of 3 years. Within the scope of this extended support, fixes will continue to be provided for the version from the official side. To conclude: In total, there are 6 years of possible support for every major TYPO3 version. Significantly more than many other open source projects.

No prolongation of the ELTS period

At the end of March 2023, the 3 years of ELTS support for TYPO3 8.7 will expire. We are clearly against another subsequent prolongation of the TYPO3 8.7 ELTS period and strongly disagree with the current procedure; the timing of the communication would also be conceivably badly chosen. Since we were already very displeased with the procedure when the 7.6 ELTS was extended for another year, we would like to take this as an opportunity to voice our criticism:

Background - latest versions have a more attractive featureset

The development of TYPO3 is progressing continuously. New versions have more features for all target groups, are more performant and are easier to use. With the latest versions and their features, TYPO3 can impress significantly more customers, users and developers, who will then in turn report positively on their user experience and support getting rid of negative reviews due to an outdated look, feel and feature set.

The TYPO3 project communicates openly, precisely and very directly the runtime of the individual versions. This is important for the development and hosting of TYPO3 based installations – both services we offer for our clients.

Extension developers expect this in order to plan a release strategy and updates. A subsequent extension of the ELTS period means new planning and possibly additional work. Especially if the extension depends on 3rd party systems. Developers want to work with the latest technology and have no desire to “tinker” with old TYPO3 versions. It must be the goal that TYPO3 developers work more with the latest technology. Otherwise, developers will turn to other projects that are more exciting.

Hosters of TYPO3 systems expect this in order to plan and maintain a system architecture. A subsequent prolonging can thereby imply the need for a complete recreation of the former hosting environment so that required software states can be continually operated. Furthermore, the effort for a hoster to safely run software that is already out of official support is immense – if even possible at all. Likewise, keeping old software versions permanently available slows down the further development of the hosting environment.

Latest versions are faster and more sustainable

The latest versions of TYPO3 are more performant, as are the necessary software packages such as PHP or MySQL or the operating systems. Performance nowadays always refers to speed in terms of energy consumption. More up-to-date software achieves the same good speed with less energy. Using current versions therefore leads to energy savings and increases sustainability. With the amount of all TYPO3 installations worldwide, this adds up to quite a lot.

Possible damages for TYPO3 agencies

As an agency, we are the link between TYPO3 and the client. We communicate the end of life date early and make a plan with the client for the upgrade. The client relies on us and on our expertise as TYPO3 specialists. Now, when the EOL dates change, the client also questions us as an agency: “Did my agency advise me correctly or did the agency just want to earn a lot from me with the big project?” and subsequently “Can I still trust my agency?”.

This damages the customer relationship and can lead to a loss of clients for the agency. Only if we, as an active TYPO3 agency, have good customer relationships, we can support the TYPO3 project through our membership, through the supportive work we put into the project for free.

This is not a theoretical case: the fourth year ELTS for TYPO3 7.6 led to the fact that we did not do a major relaunch project for one of our clients – financially very painful in times of COVID-19 and the general economic situation.

Sure, one can now argue that the TYPO3 project generates revenue through the fourth ELTS year, which benefits the TYPO3 project. We believe that it is more sustainable for the TYPO3 project to stand by its promises and stick to the announced release strategy.

With regard to the prolongation of the ELTS period for version 7, which has already taken place, a clear communication of the criteria for a prolongation would have been important. There is a lack of transparency here, especially when weighing up the costs and benefits for the whole TYPO3 ecosystem!

Our demand

We – Marketing Factory Consulting GmbH – do not agree with a further ELTS prolongation beyond the previously communicated 3 years for the reasons mentioned above. We have already suffered a financial loss due to the prolongation of the 7.6 LTS version. We cannot accept a further prolongation of the 8.7 LTS version without putting our financial and personnel commitment to the TYPO3 project into question.

Ingo Schmitt, CEO Marketing Factory Consulting GmbH

PS: I have chosen this category, since it is the best match in all categories. If there is an other better category, please advise.

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We do have a German version of our demand in our blog:

Wir fordern: Keine weitere Verlängerung des ELTS Zeitraums über die angekündigten 3 Jahre hinaus.

The discussion should take place only here in English!

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We had the same experience in 2022. Extended ELTS for version 7 took away the pressure for already planned projects. As many clients only act when necessary many relaunches got delayed. Financially painful ist the right description for september 2022.

If there is a massive request for extended ELTs the question has to be raised if this is a simple way of avoiding the invest on agency side. If so those extended thoughts should come with a significant financial burden to those clients. Upgrades should feel like the better deal.
I’m unaware of the price tag – so this might be the case.

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I agree that 6 years of support for a software is more than enough.
I even think that this is almost a German problem. Some customers think that a website has to work forever.
In other countries it is common to relaunch every 2-3 years.

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It’s not about 6 years of release support. It’s about the uncertainty whether there may be 7 years of support while I’m 5 years into the release cycle and in the course of negotiating an upgrade project with my responsible agency.

Maybe this really is a specialty of German SMBs but we definitely need a sane solution here. Currently Germany is one of the largest markets (if not the largest one at all) and the release and support policy has to work not only in niches of the world.

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Another aspect that bothers me in this context is the criteria according to which a decision on a further ELTS-extension is made. When asked, it is only ever said vaguely that there is a demand. Where does this demand come from, how strong is this demand and when will the point be reached that it will be decided that there will be another extension? In my humble opinion, there is a lack of any transparency. Or am I missing something?

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Thank you for voicing your concern, Ingo.

It’s not my job to say if you’re right or wrong, but I welcome the discussion. I think ELTS can be both a curse and a blessing, and prolonging them can both save or ruin a client relationship.

I might be asking some stupid questions here, but please bear with me. I don’t work for an agency that is a big ELTS user, so to this is a topic I don’t know much about. The decision to prolong is not mine to make either.

I wonder if this is potentially about more than just ELTS. Allow me to try to lift the question up to a higher level:

Granted, some clients will always upgrade and others will never. But for the rest of them: What is lacking in our (the entire TYPO3 community’s) long-term strategic conversation with the clients that makes some of them choose a 5, 6, 7 year-old software version over an upgrade?

What can the TYPO3 Association and TYPO3 Company do? Should we help agencies communicate the benefits of an upgrade? Should we communicate more directly with agencies’ clients? Are we undecommunicating the financial requirements of site maintenance?

How can we together make more clients upgrade earlier — long before the normal three-year ELTS expires?

Best wishes

Mathias Bolt Lesniak
TYPO3 Association Board Member

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Maybe an unpopular opinion, but the longer ELTS should only be available through agencies and should require an upgrade plan, which is already ordered at the partnering agency.

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Stick to a fix roadmap with clear timeline. If that is clear to everyone involved, there will be no call for a further ELTS extension. It’s only there if you know you’ll get away with it. You don’t have to be a visionary to guess that exactly the same game will happen again with the next versions.

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I think the question whether to update or to use ELTS (or do nothing at all) often is a question of money.
that may vary like: how complicated is the process to free money for any work?
how much money will it cost if the site is corrupted or will not work any longer?

And then there is a balance of the options.
If security is important you will not do nothing on the site. either you will update or at least buy ELTS.
But buying ELTS may not be enough because aside from TYPO3 you need to have also the operating system and web server (PHP) stay at an old (secured) version. As long as all systems provide ELTS you may go this way. Aside from TYPO3 you need e.g an old Unix with an old PHP. The support for old OS may end also. In this way the TYPO3 ELTS may end if there is no supported old OS.
as long as TYPO3 tries to be secure it also needs a secure base. If the base no longer is secure no security can be guaranteed for TYPO3.

So using ELTS means you stay on the state of old technology as each update or relaunch should include new technology. This is of course a decision of the website owner and he may be forced by his customer (Site-visitors) to update. may it be ethical like environmental or technical like new browser which does not display the website as used.

In the long run it is a system of technical depth which will bind money (manpower) against the cost of a relaunch. Depending on the structure of a website and the amount of individual extensions either one side or the other may win.

Don’t forget the lethargy and lazyness of people. And of course the amount of work in over complicated hierarchies like the communal systems, where any aims more often are ranged only in the short time of a government until the next election without a view of a long time strategy.

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The question is: should the TYPO3 project encourage laziness by prolonged ELTS offers - even if it is hard - albeit not impossible - to get a suitable technical base to run old versions? There are community supported OS distributions with very long support terms (such as CentOS or its successors) that ship with old versions of PHP suitable for running ELTS releases of TYPO3.
Please don’t mix up the general rationale behind ELTS or its overall feasibility with the problem depicted above. Ingo’s problem purely comes from the fact that TYPO3’s ELTS plans are entirely unpredictable: Despite TYPO3 claiming to only offer ELTS for a limited amount of time, it was prolonged in almost any case in the past.

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It is simply the law of the market: as long as there is demand to finance the product, the product will be sold. Since no customer knows how many other customers will want to use ELTS next year, the costs are incalculable if the costs are distributed among all customers.

It may be more predictable and still rise the pressure for updates if TYPO3.com will double the price for ELTS each year.

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Good for TYPO3 company, but where is the beef for the agencies?

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regarding that there will be no end of ELTS the cost will explode anyway for the customer and it will be a calculation how long to buy ELTS instad of doing/ ordering an update or relaunch.
It will increase the pressure to do it earlier than later.

Hello Mathias,

let me jump directly into your questions:

Marketing possibilities and technology is changing fast. New concepts are born daily and are changing the way we all (Agencies, Develops, Customers, Users) interact with websites and web applications. If you stay with a 5 or 7 year old software, you probably won’t benefit these new concepts and will stay behind your competitors. A website should be enhanced on a constant basis to not stay behind.

In a long-term strategic conversion we think it’s better not to talk about projects (which by definition have a start and an end) but about progress. A website is never finished!

Stick to the release plan. If the plan itself does not fit the current needs, a new plan for future versions should be created.

Yes. And add more reasons to upgrade to new releases. If clients or users see a new must have feature in a new release, the upgrade “sells” by itself. Maybe we should also think about a more intense and louder communication about the new releases and the new features to gain attraction. Sometimes small features which are used in broad marketing are the USPs the clients are searching for. We should keep in mind: Customers and users are mostly not into the technical stuff as we are. USPs for an upgrade for them are sometimes tiny features which don’t feel as USP for us. And vice versa.

As mentioned: Our clients trust us to have the best solution for their needs. We are the single touchpoint and an additional touchpoint would add more confusion to our clients. So for us: No.

As mentioned before: We should communicate that constant work on the site is needed.

Maybe we also should communicate, that a delayed upgrade is creating a bigger financial requirement since the technical debt grows.

All the ideas above can be taken in account. Maybe we also need an argue card - such as the comparison cards?

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IMHO, TYPO3 is in a pretty unique position in the open source world: The TYPO3 Company was founded to make stuff that’s good for the agencies, not compete against them. The company is there to provide support and services and facilitate the development of TYPO3. That should be good beef, but will never (and is not supposed to) cover everything. You’ll have to run your own cattle farm too. If either beef isn’t good enough, we collaborate on better cattle breeds and ranch infrastructure. We’re doing that right here and now. :slight_smile:

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So, let’s discontinue ELTS at all, then? I think you’d definitely be applauded by us agencies :wink:

Maybe a discount. Our clients aren’t Members and by ordering ELTS they are mostly delaying business in agencies – so if the current agency had a share it would somehow compensate the business lost.
Anyway: If we do have official communication we should act accordingly. Everytime we don’t it stresses trust.

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I don’t expect any significant support from TYPO3 GmbH regarding our existing customer relationships, but I expect that it at least doesn’t make our agency business more difficult. And that is exactly what is happening with the originally “unplanned” extension of the ELTS. Both with version 7 and now with version 8, this leads to complications in upgrade projects. We consider it our duty to inform our customers about the new option, we also advise against it, but in the end it is the customer who decides. And then telling a customer that under these circumstances we will no longer work for you is something you have to be able and willing to afford. It doesn’t make the agency’s business any easier and as I understand it, that shouldn’t be the goal of TYPO3 GmbH.

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I have the feeling German courts, at least, are starting to take GDPR/DSGVO seriously, and hand down fines.

Running unsupported software in your stack leaves you open to compliance and liability issues, which can get expensive in the worst cases.

I’ve already seen someone in a video call helpfully point out that someone’s Chrome browser was displaying the update warning and that we all need to stay on top of these issues for everyone’s safety/privacy/benefit.