Already at the beginning of January, in2code GmbH started with this interesting project. A short time later it became clear that the old system had hidden far more functionality than originally thought. With the phasing out of the PHP version used, the university was forced to switch to a newer TYPO3 version as soon as possible. At the same time, technical debts were to be reduced and modern techniques were to be used to simplify future updates and ensure the best possible scalability. The used version of the content management system TYPO3, which is popular for colleges and universities, was previously running on LTS version 6 and was updated by us to the latest LTS version 9 (LTS = Long Term Support).
The technical new beginning
The basic structure of the website was redesigned and configured by us. Unnecessary code has been removed in large numbers. For example, some performance advantages resulted from the removal of unnecessary TypoScript conditions. The new PHP and TYPO3 version does the rest so that the new version of the website now reaches 99 of 100 possible points at Google Page Speed.
Another technical challenge was the migration of the content of an outdated TYPO3 extension (jf_multicontent) to a more future-proof solution (gridelements). With these extensions, a large part of the website's content is implemented in accordion and tab elements. As a positive side effect, editors can now maintain the website more easily by improving the usability of the backend.
When switching from one extension to another, an automated migration was necessary, otherwise the content would have been lost and would have had to be added manually. For this purpose, we developed a migration test track in cooperation with the customer, which served as a reference for all functions and elements currently in use. On the basis of this, a migration script was then developed, which was carried out countless times, refined and then checked. This ensured that all old elements were migrated to new and modern techniques and are now fully functional again in the new TYPO3.
As a basis for future updates and as a reference for administrators and editors, a complete test track with all new elements and functions in all versions was also set up (Living Content Reference), which is constantly kept up to date and thus represents the complete system in small parts at all times.
The public view of the person administration of the HfWU has also been completely rebuilt. The integration of a designated interface connects the external administration software with TYPO3. Persons can now be created in the CMS via this import and then displayed in the frontend in list and detail views. In the course of the improvement of the data protection (DSGVO), the editors responsible for this are now provided with fine-grained setting options to determine which data may be displayed to the public at all. To ensure that the already available old data was not lost during the update, an automated migration was also necessary.
An international web presence
The Hochschule für Wirtschaft und Umwelt has both a second, international website (multi-tree concept) and a translation handling of individual pages within the main website (single-tree concept), which made the language configuration in this project somewhat more complex.
Furthermore, the search engine of the HfWU website (Solr-Server) was updated and several obsolete search extensions were removed and replaced by TYPO3 near Bordmittel.
In the past, the continuous development of the website was difficult due to missing TYPO3 instances, versioning and an automated deployment. Now, develop, preview, release and live instances ensure sustainable and high-quality development in cooperation with the client in the Gitflow workflow. Zero-Downtime-Deployment with Continuous Integration via a modern Gitlab CI platform ensures standardized and clean code quality and continuous testing.
A successful project
Thanks to regular meetings and committed cooperation from the customer, the project was completed very quickly and agilely. Because developers were also integrated into these virtual meetings, it was easy for us to complete tasks quickly and accurately. At the same time, the client's team was always up to date and could view and approve the status of the work at any time.
Our next common goal is the integration of the HfWU staff into the collective development of the website, the implementation of new functions as well as the piecewise modernization of the frontend - i.e. the look of the website and the user guidance of the visitors. We are also pleased about the consistently positive feedback and the chance to support the HfWU permanently as a new support customer in the future.