Drupal 8, the best CMS in the world, has been maturing over the past couple of years and is in a very healthy state.
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!
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 November 2021, 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 as they come along, you will need to get involved in the process of updating.
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 front end theme and display programming for complex pages.
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 - internet years are like dog years!
Drupal 8 and Drupal 9 are already benefitting 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.
What is the 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
What is the Schedule for Drupal 7s End of Life?
Owing to dependencies on external elements such as php and composer, both Drupal 7 and Drupal 8 are set to have an end of life at the end of 2021. 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 2021 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 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 a new CMS back-end
- Greater cost than an upgrade
- It won't be as good as Drupal
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