Dries Buytaert, the founder and lead developer of the Drupal CMS, announced and introduced Drupal 9 and End-of-Life for Drupal 7 two years in advance at DrupalCon Europe 2018. And that was followed by Symfony 3, one of the biggest dependency of Drupal 8, to also reach its EOL by November 21.
Now we are here, a quarter after Drupal 9’s worldwide release. We didn’t know then that the release will happen right in the middle of a global pandemic. But what we did know that Drupal 8 to Drupal 9 migration would be starkly contrasting from the major migration of Drupal 7 to Drupal 8. It is less dramatic and does not require months of development or restructuring your site.
Drupal 9 is the same Drupal 8 with new functionalities, backward-compatible code, and experimental features.
Drupal 7 EOL Update
Soon after the release, Drupal announced extending the Drupal 7 end-of-life until November 28, 2022, given the impact of COVID-19 on budgets and businesses across domains and continents.
Though this may be good news to many Drupal 7 users (you get an extra year to prepare), it translates differently for the Drupal community, who will now have to continue providing the security.
So, Drupal 7 will no longer be supported by core maintainers with fixes, security releases, or enhancements only after November 28, 2022.
What does it mean?
For the users: After coming to EOL, Drupal 7 will not receive updates when any new security vulnerabilities would be discovered, keeping your site’s data and infrastructure at a much higher risk.
However, you can avail of the vetted vendors for paid support of Drupal 7 through November 2025 under the Drupal 7’s Extended Support(D7ES) program.
This news is a boon for organizations going through a tough phase with a limited budget and support staff. This gives you enough time to continue improving your existing site, revisit your ROIs, and work out a plan for the eventual migration.
For the Community: The Drupal community will have to keep reviewing security reports, creating patches, and releasing security advisories for Drupal 7, which is extra work for the security team. So, the Drupal security team will continue to follow the Security Team processes for Drupal 7 core and contributed projects until November 2022 now.
In The Meantime, We Recommend
Two years is a long period to make the necessary changes and pre-requisites. It is an excellent time to look into the things you can start doing to prepare your Drupal 7 site and move in the direction of migration in 2022. Here’s what we recommend:
- Prepare to move onto Drupal 8.
- Keep your Drupal 8 site up-to-date, making them more secure and safe.
- Use and integrate the best of contributed modules that are highly-used and endorsed by the Community veterans.
- The architecture of Drupal 7 is vastly different from that of Drupal 8. Invest in shifting your coding and site-building culture. This will keep your multitude of modules and theme folders ready to be packed and migrated when the time comes.
- Run a thorough content audit and do away with stale or duplicate content. This will help you have a plan to fix any problematic content and create a content strategy for the updated version.
These suggestions are to give you a kick start. Additionally, stick to the Drupal Superhighway with the best practices and keep it updated to the latest version!
Steps Towards Eventual Migration
Now that you have an extra year to update your site to Drupal 9, what should your Drupal development chart look like?
Firstly, use this time wisely and work towards the eventual migration in 2022. Drupal 7 is obsolete in today’s CMS world, and Drupal 9, with its stable foundation, is here to stay for many years to come. The last releases of Drupal 8 were created more uniformly and for being less onerous in the future.
In a controlled manner, you can take care of the impending migration to Drupal 9 with the following suggestions:
- While building your site on Drupal 8, choose modules that are Drupal 9 ready.
- Keep your PHP and Symfony versions updated.
- Consider refocusing on your site’s users’ goals and needs and the redesign process.
- Work on a more precise roadmap for how the future Drupal releases will impact the site.
Based on these, you can smoothly transition your Drupal site to be the most functional and operational version. With no near deadlines and enough time to plan, make efforts to reduce risks that will pay dividends later.
It’d be good to be on Drupal 8 by the end of 2020 and initiating the process of updating to Drupal 9 along the way. Since, the minor releases of Drupal 9 (Drupal 9.1, Drupal 9.2, and so on) will be rolling out soon, address all your technical debt issues now.
We wish happy migration to our fellow Drupalers!