Drupal 8, the best CMS (Content Management System for your website) in the world, has been maturing over the past couple of years and is now in a very healthy state - it's time to make the move.
It is now time for any site still running on Drupal 7 to start planning the upgrade to version 8, but don't worry - we are here to help you through it! It's a relatively simple process which will bring your site up to date - and make it easier to stay up to date.
Why upgrade to Drupal 8?
Drupal 7 is nearing its end of life. What does that mean? The Drupal Security Team currently issue security patches to protect against vulnerabilities as they are discovered. This keeps your website and its data secure from hackers. From Autumn 2022 (it was Autumn 2021 but because of Covid-19 we have an extra year), the security team will no longer produce these patches. However, there is a good chance that there will be a community-based endeavour to produce security patches, as happened with Drupal 6.
If your site is winding down or you only need a site to be live for another year or so, then staying put and using the community patches could be a good option. If, however, you want your site to continue to expand and evolve and take advantage of new developments and technologies as they come along, you will need to get involved in the process of updating.
Upgrade to Drupal 8 and get Drupal 9 FREE!
If you upgrade to Drupal 8 by summer 2021 the upgrade to Drupal 9 will be painless. Drupal 8 is set to be the last complicated, "large step" upgrade - all future upgrades will be gradual and incremental. Meaning that as long as you keep Drupal up to date, each step will be simple. Windows has adopted a similar model making Windows10 the last "big step" upgrade.
So, if you upgrade to Drupal 8 by the end of summer 2021, you will get a Drupal 9 upgrade thrown in for FREE!
Benefits of Upgrading
The upgrade process from 7 to 8 carries across all of your content - page data, all of your users, admin permissions, section categories etc. The things that will need re-creating are the display programming for complex pages and the front end theme (how the site looks).
This means that upgrading is an ideal opportunity to update your site design and modernise the navigation, look and feel of the homepage layout etc. Given how fast internet fashions change, there is a good chance that your site is due a design update anyway, as we wrote about in our article - internet years are like dog years!
Drupal 8 and Drupal 9 are already benefiting from superior technology to Drupal 7. The open-source community is constantly developing new systems, tweaking processes and generally making everything work better and faster. With enterprise-backing and a huge global network of developers this is only going to keep on improving.
The Upgrade Process
Most of the work involved is in the preparation, the amount of work required will depend to some extent on the complexity of the site being migrated. This is a quick run-down of the migration process.
- Set up a Drupal 8 site with the same modules as the D7 site
- Design and build a new front end theme
- Rebuild any complex pages
- Perform the upgrade
- Promote to live site
This means that even if your site uses live data, perhaps an e-commerce site or a members site, there will be a minimal amount of downtime.
What is the Schedule for Drupal 7s End of Life?
Owing to dependencies on external elements both Drupal 7 and Drupal 8 are set to have an end of life at the end of 2022. That sounds drastic, but if tackled early enough, the process can be simple. The upgrade from the last version of Drupal 8 to the first version of Drupal 9 will be a very small step, a minor version update rather than the platform update from 7 to 8.
If your site has upgraded to Drupal 8 by November 2022 the upgrade to Drupal 9 will be simple.
Alternatives to Upgrading
There are other possible paths to take - one of which is to switch to another CMS (content management system) and start again from scratch. There are downsides to this approach though:
- All data would need to be exported and imported or re-keyed
- Learn to use a new back-end
- More work and greater cost than an upgrade
- It won't be as good as Drupal 8!
Upgrade now, before the rush!
The next 12 months or so will see lots of organisations moving to upgrade. This could lead to a shortage of developers, so we would urge all of our clients to think about this sooner rather than later.
Drupal 8 Upgrade
So, there you have it. Drupal 8 is a big improvement over 7 - and Drupal 9 will be even better. Take this step now and you won't need to do a big upgrade again, all future upgrades will be small increments.
Go on, embrace the future! Get in touch today to discuss your needs, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call us on 01985 840 637