The highly anticipated first major update of the Common Web Platform became available in 2018 with the 2.0 stable release. For content editors and technical teams in the public sector, this marks an exciting leap forward. 2.x minor releases will continue throughout the lifetime of CWP and you can jump right into a 2.x upgrade.    

The feature-rich CWP 2.x takes advantage of the latest (and greatest) features from Silverstripe CMS 4 which updates the CMS with major redesigns for content editors. For technical teams, it brings a refined approach to recipes and simplifies the maintenance of code. CWP 2.x also provides agencies with the assurance of long-term support with 2.x recipe support extending to the end of 2021 and beyond - refer CWP recipe support timeline.  


Features and benefits of a 2.x upgrade

Modern and responsive user interface

CWP 2.x is still the intuitive CMS loved by Silverstripe CMS users, but simpler to use and visually cleaner. The main sections of the CMS are now responsive and reviewing/publishing content on different screen sizes have been simplified for authors.

We’ve also upgraded the WYSIWYG editor to TinyMCE 4(external link) for better accessibility, powerful table editing, and a theme that’s much lighter on the eye.

Better versioning and asset handling

We’ve rebuilt the file management area from the ground up. Authors on CWP 2.x will enjoy a more intuitive interface and the ability to publish files alongside pages. What’s more, all content can have a draft stage, not just pages.

Flexible content and data architecture

The traditional approach to serving content and data lacks the flexibility to meet all audiences right at their doorstep(external link). So with CWP 2.x, we’ve moved towards a more decoupled approach to publishing content allowing headless CMS applications with the introduction of new Content APIs.

This enables content teams, designers, and developers to deliver enhanced personalisation and greater flexibility in presentation across multiple devices and channels.

Read more: Decoupled body parts: headless CMS and Silverstripe CMS(external link)

Content blocks

CWP 2.0 introduced the concept of content blocks into the CMS, enabling a new level of design sophistication and customisability for content teams. If you’re not already using blocks, this is an opportunity to improve the consistency of your site’s design, make it more modular and easier to maintain.

Read more: Let’s talk: Elemental(external link)

Updated themes

CWP 2.x added Wātea Plus to give agencies more control. Wātea is a versatile and visually appealing theme that is popular with Government sites. Based on feedback from the CWP community, new functionality now allows agencies to better customise the look of their site with minimal input from developers for increased alignment with their brand.

Read more: Introducing Wātea Plus

To support government agencies getting their sites operational quickly, in addition to the popular Wātea theme, CWP 2.x now includes a simpler Starter theme. This is a developer focused theme, catering to sites which require even more customisation and design.

Open Data integration through

The CKAN Registry module introduces a new way of managing open data on your CWP site by displaying the information using a CKAN integration. For example, your agency might manage a list of contacts (such as the Family Services Directory(external link)) on, and make this data searchable by visitors on your CWP website. With the module installed, Content Authors can easily create 'CKAN Registry page types' that are populated with your open data that is stored centrally on or another CKAN service.

Read more: CWP 2.2.2 featuring the new CKAN Registry module

Pick-and-choose from recipe variations

Your developers can now choose which combination of modules they pull in to each project. This modular approach saves your developers time, keeps unnecessary complexity out of your project, and therefore delivers projects faster with less cost.

CWP 2.x upgrade FAQs

Q: What is the support timeline for CWP 2.x?

Refer the CWP Recipe Support Timeline page.

Q: What’s the difference between an upgrade and a refresh?

A: An upgrade involves moving from one major version of a CMS to another (alongside upgrading any modules and custom code you may have). A refresh is a project that includes rethinking your website and how it achieves its goals. You can do both of these things at the same time, or just simply upgrade to CWP 2.x and call it a day.

Q: What could go wrong during an upgrade?

A: Since the modules which drive your custom code are changing, you need to understand and test functionality that’s specific to your website. Regressions can occur when there’s incomplete organisational knowledge of what custom functionality exists, or how it should work. Talk to your development partner or team about automated test coverage in order to drive quality assurance in your project.

Q: Why should I upgrade?

A: It’s the responsible thing to do for security reasons plus you’ll get the latest features. Being on the latest version means your site will continue to be supported. Participating agencies have agreed to stay on supported versions, largely for security reasons. Upgrading to CWP 2.x is like upgrading your computer’s operating system—it’s a short term inconvenience for a longer term gain.

Q: What’s the support cycle for 1.X?

A: The CWP 1.x will be supported until June 2021 with CWP recipe versions 1.9 onwards. Refer to the CWP Releases and Changelogs for support timelines on specific release versions.

Q: How long will an upgrade to CWP 2.x take?

A: It depends on the complexity of your website, upgrades range from several developer-days to developer-months.

Q: How much will an upgrade to CWP 2.x cost?

A: Contact vendors on the Web Services Panel (WSP) or your vendor of choice for an estimate that is sufficiently accurate for your budgeting purposes.

Q: How complex is my website when it comes to upgrading to CWP 2.x?

 Complexity Low complexity Medium complexity High complexity Very high complexity
Degree of code customisation Little to no custom code Low to moderate amount of custom code Moderate to high amount of custom code Highly customised code base and complex integrations
Modules Using Wātea theme Some well maintained open source modules Modules that haven’t been open sourced
Recipe Using a standard ‘recipe’ Using a modified ‘recipe’ Using a unique ‘recipe’ 

Q: Is an upgrade an opportunity to improve?

A: As your website evolves, existing code can become obsolete, non-performant, and unsecure. This means that the structure of your website can lose shape and become disordered.

Upgrading to a major version of Silverstripe CMS is an opportunity for the structure of your website to address technical debt, enhance the experience provided to your customers, and update security measures.

A website before a major upgrade

Upgrade codebase opportunities: State before upgrade

A website after a major upgrade

When you upgrade to a major version it's an opportunity to…

Upgrade codebase opportunities: State after upgrade

Q: What modules am I using?

A: If you are on CWP 1.9, use Site Summariser to assess which modules you have. If you are not planning on upgrading to CWP 1.9, then we recommend you get in touch with your developers and request an assessment of your modules. Alternatively, Silverstripe can perform this activity for you through a Service Desk ticket.

Q: Who can do my upgrade for me?

A: Any development team familiar with Silverstripe CMS development should be able to perform an upgrade. Web Services Panel (WSP) vendors are experienced with Silverstripe CMS upgrades and they have capacity to do CWP 2.x upgrades. Silverstripe has additional partners(external link) outside of the Web Services Panel who can develop in CWP as well.

Q: What will happen to CWP until 2021?

A: Silverstripe and DIA will keep improving CWP until the existing agreement comes to a close at 16 September 2021. Over 2020 and 2021, Silverstripe will develop the platform aligned to a shared roadmap that is co-developed with DIA and participating agencies.

Q: How are DIA and Silverstripe preparing for the future now?

A: DIA intiatied a Web Content Management/Digital Experience Platform Project where they worked with agencies and suppliers to co-design the next iteration of CWP. Your agency will likely have been involved in a series of workshops to provide input. For more information about this, we recommend you contact Dave Jackman:

Silverstripe has a clear vision for the future of our products and how they can help the New Zealand government to transform the way it designs and provides digital experiences and services to Kiwis. We will use our expertise in supporting stable, high performing public sector websites—and the ecosystems surrounding them—to keep helping agencies further place citizens at the centre of government digital services delivery.

Q: What’s the difference between the current CWP state and possible post-CWP future state?

A: The below two diagrams show the CWP current state and possible post-CWP future state. Underneath CWP—and fundamental to the CWP product—is Silverstripe. We are here to stay, continuing to be your flexible, world-class partner in your digital platform journey.

Service Composition - Current state

Service Composition: Current State

Possible Future state (post-2021)

Silverstripe is committed to supporting DIA in the delivery of post-CWP solutions. We are actively involved in the co-design process with DIA and once DIA’s plans are more fully formed, we will finalise our approach to supporting CWP clients post-CWP.

In the interim, have confidence that your investment in CWP, and service continuity beyond 2021, is assured by Silverstripe’s commitment to maintain an offering that is functionally equivalent.

This means that whether or not there is a formal role for Silverstripe in providing future services via DIA, we can offer to take on additional responsibilities to ensure that CWP clients retain their existing functionality, performance, security, and price, with a minimal transition cost.

A possible future state involving Silverstripe might look like this:

Service Composition: Possible Future State

Should DIA seek another way of working with CMS vendors, such as the Marketplace, we would support this and offer our replacement service through this channel.

Q: How can my agency prepare for post-2021?

Silverstripe is committed to providing continuity of innovation and support for CWP sites beyond DIA and Silverstripe’s agreement ending in September 2021. We will support agencies who continue with our tailored Platform option catering to the needs of the New Zealand Public Sector. Rest assured that your investment in CWP is secure well into the future.

We recommend that you upgrade to CWP 2.x as soon as is practical. Silverstripe will be able to transition CWP 2.x clients to a future state with minimal effort, providing continuous support post-September 2021.

We are fully committed to delivering the leading CMS and full-service hosting platforms designed to serve the evolving needs of your agency. Until September 2021, this will be accomplished within CWP. From October 2021 onwards, we will ensure that we can continue accomplishing this, either through collaboration with DIA, or through the Silverstripe managed platform.

Further reading

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