TYPO3 upgrade and ongoing development for HAW Hamburg

The University of Applied Sciences Hamburg recently received an extensive, technical upgrade of their existing TYPO3 installation. In addition to the upgrade project, a support and maintenance project with a large share of technical and content development was also placed with web-vision.

In the course of the project, the existing installation had to be upgraded and optimized, dependencies to third-party systems had to be minimized, individual interfaces to internal systems had to be created and new features for the general improvement of the website had to be developed. The specific points we implemented are presented in the following sections.

About the TYPO3 project haw-hamburg.de

The project is a support and maintenance project with an additional, large share of further developments. The existing website is therefore not only continuously maintained, but also regularly expanded with new functionalities.

The task packages for support and maintenance of the installation are organized according to Kanban principles with a fixed support team, while the further development of new features is carried out as a Scrum project with topic-based sprints. This allows us to promptly fix bugs and inconveniences during ongoing operation, as well as to add new features to the installation in regular cycles.

The TYPO3 instance at the Hamburg University of Applied Sciences is home to around 300 editors in 66 user groups with a wide variety of dedicated access and usage rights. As part of the project, the first task was to upgrade the TYPO3 installation based on TYPO3 version 8.7 to version 11.5 LTS - not only to use an up-to-date and officially supported version, but also to benefit from features and improvements in the new version. During the TYPO3 development we worked very close to the core to make the installation as upgrade- and user-friendly as possible.

Individual interface development for HAW Hamburg

A special feature of the project for HAW Hamburg was the development of individual interfaces against the user management systems already existing in the infrastructure. The first task was to create an interface between TYPO3 and HiS-in-One - the employee database of HAW Hamburg; among other things, to enable front-end login to the employee portal.

Furthermore, an interface between TYPO3 and LDAP was developed to enable employees, lecturers as well as internal and external staff to access the systems. The synchronization of the frontend and backend users also takes place via LDAP.

Hardening and optimization of the TYPO3 instance

TYPO3 Upgrade from 8 LTS to 11 LTS

As already described at the beginning, the main focus of the project was to upgrade the existing TYPO3 installation to a current, stable and future-proof version. Therefore an upgrade over 3 major versions from TYPO3 8.7 to TYPO3 11.5 LTS took place. The editors of HAW Hamburg now benefit from all features and improvements of the new version and can look forward to an improved usability, a faster backend and an optimized file and document management.

With the upgrade, HAW Hamburg's installation is now officially covered until October 31, 2024 - with Extended Long Term Support even until October 31, 2027 - and benefits from regular security and maintenance updates.

Reducing the use of dependencies on third-party extensions

Another focus of the project was on reducing the use of dependencies to third-party extensions. A number of functionalities that had to be integrated via extensions in older versions have been migrated directly to the TYPO3 core in the new versions. The use of many such extensions is therefore obsolete and slows down the installation unnecessarily.

By removing TYPO3 extensions that are no longer used or needed, we were not only able to streamline and speed up the installation, but also significantly reduce future maintenance efforts.

The fewer extensions are used, the more comfortable the maintenance and further development of the TYPO3 instance will be. Likewise, future TYPO3 upgrades will be easier and less expensive, and the amount of legacy code in the project will be reduced immensely.

Migration from grid elements to containers during ongoing operation and without downtimes

HAW Hamburg previously used the TYPO3 extension Grid-Elements to structure and design the website in the front and back ends. Since there was no version of this extension compatible with TYPO3 Version 11 at the time of the project, we decided to migrate to Container. It has all relevant functions, was developed close to the core and has already proven to be a good alternative to Grid-Elements in other projects. The migration of all grid elements to container elements was carried out successfully and without downtimes during ongoing website operation.

New features

In addition to the aspects already mentioned, a number of other new features were integrated into HAW Hamburg's TYPO3 installation:

  • Implementation of a DSGVO compliant cookiebar,
  • Development of a simple events database; based on a custom pagetype. The development was done very close to the TYPO3 core and is therefore not only very upgrade- but also user-friendly.