I suspect that any amount of time spent building a new version of a web content management system is priced in blood, sweat and tears. But when you realize it's not working, it's time to cut the chord and move on -- or in the case of Umbraco, step back.
In the end, the only responsible decision, the only decision that respects the community and the core values of the project was to retire v5.
It is not a decision that has been brewing for months, but a discussion that was started and researched a few weeks back, culminating in an honest and open conclusion made by the community group who attended the weekend's pre-codegarden retreat. These were not all HQ and core members but an impartial and honest group of both core and community members, new and old.
That was the first thing the blog post stated that speaks of the demise of Umbraco 5. According to Hartvig, Umbraco v5 had become the monster that Umbraco was first created to get away from.
Taking Umbraco From Great to Complex
Version 5 had been in the works for a long time. Released in January of this year, it was seven months delayed but somewhat well received by the community. Hartvig said that when they started creating the course material they realized how complex a system they had built. It is important to note that Umbraco 5 was not built by the community. Due to its complexity, Hartvig said the community would never have been able to be involved in its development.
As it was used, issues arose with performance, and many in the community did not feel it was an improvement over v4 -- the result being many still worked with v4.
The Umbraco Go-Forward Plan
We reviewed Umbraco v4 in mid 2009 and the response from the community was great. Even then, there was talk about v5 and how good it was going to be.
The plan is to take what's good from v5 and put it into v4 (a version by the way which is still being actively updated). It will also still support those who made the jump to v5 already, but the recommendation is to not build a new site on it.
Version 5 brought the integration of MVC/Razor and thus the dropping of XSLT and Web Forms. Many in the community are not happy moving backwards, but it's important to note that Razor does work in version 4.7 of Umbraco, and v4 can be extended to support MVC, so maybe all is not completely lost.
The Community Response
The blog post that announces version 5's demise has currently over 90 comments. Many that I read are understanding and feel bad for the team that worked on Umbraco 5 and the developers who were porting their v4 packages over, but there's also a lot of bad blood.
Many had taken courses on version 5 and already ported website over to the new version.
You can watch Neils Hartvig explain in his own words, at Codegarden, Umbraco's User Conference (you'll need to get about 7-8 minutes into the video):
One thing I do know about Hartvig, is that he wouldn't do anything lightly and I am sure it was a tough decision for him and the entire team. But Umbraco is in his blood and he will ensure that it is built and supported in the best way possible.