As we all know by now, Drupal 7 End of Life is approaching, albeit a year slower than we had anticipated. But what does it all mean?
So what does "End of Life" mean?
On November 1, 2023, the Drupal community will decommission Drupal 7. Community feedback will no longer be required for bug fixes, new features, or security patches. Basically, time's up for this version.
Are there any significant differences between the current and prior versions of Drupal?
The difference between content and presentation, as well as content types, views, taxonomies, roles, and permissions, are all present and accurate. Technology, architecture, and functionality, on the other hand, have made huge advances forward. Let's take a look at some of Drupal 9's main improvements versus Drupal 7:
With simple, smartly designed tools that are easy to use and comprehend, Drupal 9's editing experience is more accessible and user-friendly than ever before. Editors have access to drag-and-drop page layouts, edit in situ, integrated workflow management, and Workspaces, to name a few features.
Drupal's architecture is based solely on APIs, and it's built for interoperability and flexibility, with a concentration on web services like REST and JSON. Drupal may be used as a data service for apps, or developers can design Drupal themes and interfaces using their own frameworks. Drupal 9 can also exchange data and integrate with other systems with ease.
The BigPipe core module, which allows for slower loading of specified objects, as well as more efficient coding practises, will all aid your website's performance in Drupal 9 over Drupal 8. The platform's technologies and architecture have been updated to stay up with the changes.
- Using an Object-Oriented Approach to Programming
- Symfony & Composer APIs and RESTful Web Services
- A broader set of data sources
- Twig Headless/Decoupled Capability
Why isn't Drupal 8 being used anymore?
Drupal 8 has reached its own End of Life already (on November 2, 2021). Drupal 7's end-of-life date was pushed back a year as a result of the Covid-19 outbreak, however Drupal 8's end-of-life date could not be changed. since then, D7 has been given a second lease of life with a further extended date to November 2023.
After all is said and done, upgrading to D8 prior to D9 isn't necessary. Despite the addition of many new capabilities, Drupal 9 maintains backwards compatibility and is virtually identical to Drupal 8 on the inside.
Migrations from Drupal 7 to Drupal 9 were also expected: You may start the process of migrating from Drupal 7 to Drupal 9 with Drupal 9's core Migrate Drupal module.
How much work is it to go from Drupal 7 to D9?
Nothing can hide the reality that this is a huge step forward. Drupal's fundamental technologies and architecture were entirely rewritten beginning with version 8 in order to produce a platform that is more competent and ready for the future.
Both enterprises and end-users have a lot of potential, but making the leap needs a lot of money and planning. We must learn new technologies and approaches; we must build modules and themes; we must modify our content; and we must reimagine our goals.
The good news is that this is the last time we'll do it. As part of the new architecture, Drupal's approach to version releases was completely overhauled. Big releases will become more like minor releases, requiring less of a rewrite to upgrade to the next one.
Do you want to stick with Drupal 7?
It's obvious that migrating from Drupal 7 to Drupal 9 is a significant task. Because the alternative is just as daunting, you might as well do it.
First and foremost, know that your website will continue to function. Unless the Drupal community participates, modules and Drupal core will no longer get bug fixes or feature updates. Certain limited security patches will be available under the Drupal 7 Extended Vendor Support programme until November 2025, at the earliest.
However, as time passes, you will fall more behind in terms of innovation, making it more difficult to meet your customers' requests.
Vulnerability will become more of a concern once the community-based Drupal Security Team stops monitoring Drupal 7 and issuing security alerts and updates. Finally, when developers transition to newer, incompatible technologies, any third-party extensions and plug-ins may stop working.
To maintain the system working at full capacity, time and money will be necessary. This cost will only be required to maintain the status quo; it will not result in an increase in income or an improvement in operations.
Staying with Drupal 7 may appear to be the easiest option at first, but it will consume more resources in the long term and jeopardise your business's purpose.
Is there another, better CMS?
Upgrading from Drupal 7 to Drupal 9 may be tough. Changing platforms, on the other hand, will be more expensive and disruptive. If you abandon Drupal, you'll have to rethink the architecture, capabilities, and features of your website from the ground up. It costs money to integrate new technology and product ecosystems.
While this may appear to be a decent alternative, you'll miss out on the advantages that only a content-rich open-source platform can offer, such as flexibility and security, improvements in accessibility and content editing, and efficient data transmission. However, don't underestimate how much your employees will like Drupal 9's new features! If your employees want to learn more about Drupal in order to prepare for Drupal 9, they may attend one of our training programmes.
How would you handle a case if a Drupal 9 contributed module wasn't available yet?
You can determine which modules are compatible with Drupal 9 and which ones need to be upgraded using the Upgrade Status module. If the module you're using isn't available in Drupal 9, there may be a new Drupal core feature that delivers the functionality you're looking for or another module that provides the same functionality. It's crucial to remember that upgrading to Drupal 9 reduces the number of modules required for a website.
If you can't locate a module that suits your requirements, this Drupal 9 module upgrade instruction might help you get up and running quickly.
What's the best way to get started?
When it comes to the migration from Drupal 7 to Drupal 9, it's a lot like starting a big project. Before digging into the specifics of how to put a strategy into action, you need to take a step back and consider the larger picture.
Analyze your UX - Upgrading to Drupal 9 may provide you with the opportunity to improve the usability and user experience of your site. Because it will affect so many aspects of your project, the first step should be to decide whether or not this is an important goal.
What audiences and stakeholders were present the last time you had a large rebuild? What are their current circumstances, and what do they intend to achieve as a result of this?
Define your goals - What is the goal of your business? What criteria are used to evaluate your accomplishment? How can your new platform assist you in achieving this goal and providing better service to your stakeholders?
Build your team - Do you have someone on hand who can assist you with this project? Are you able to locate the folks you're looking for?
Audits and self-assessment are two important ones. Content and technical audits are opportunities for you to reflect on the work you've been doing. What should be relocated, reworked, or discarded? What are the knowledge gaps in my team, and how can I close them? What is the scope of our project, and do we have the resources to complete it?
Examine all your options including partnering with an agency to assist you with your migration if necessary.
Will I have to go through this procedure again when Drupal 10 is released?
Don't be alarmed. Upgrading from Drupal 9 to Drupal 10 will not be as significant an endeavour.
Drupal 10 will be released in December 2022 at the latest, with all eyes currently set on August. The upgrading from Drupal 8 to 9 should be as simple as it has been so far.
Should I wait and go straight to Drupal 10?
That's an interesting question. You could wait, however, as Drupal 10 is being built in Drupal 9, the move is going to be an easy one. The community is divided over the migration path from D7 to D10, so it makes sense to go with Drupal 9 as it's out now and the next move from D9 to D10 would be the easiest yet.
We're here to help if you need it.