Drupal 8 may not be the best (or only) alternative to Drupal 7 migration

Read the Agile Guide to Getting out of Drupal 7

As of this writing, there are over 600,000 websites powered by Drupal 7 (D7) or Drupal 8 (D8). However, Dries Buytaert (Founder of Drupal, President of Drupal Organization, and CTO of Acquia) has stated that BOTH D7 and D8 will expire soon. D7 will reach end of life in November of 2022. D8 will reach end of life even sooner, in November of 2021.

Fortunately, D9 has been out for more than a year and is stable and mature enough for government agencies, nonprofit organizations, and member associations to rely on it to power their website. But there is somewhere between a few months and a year to move to D9.

For risk-averse agencies and organizations, they can’t wait until the last minute to migrate out of D7 or D8 to D9, especially since it could take 6-9 months to redesign, redevelop, migrate content, and quality assure a moderately complex, high volume website. So, what is a responsible, prudent, organization to do?

Generally speaking, there are three obvious choices or approaches to migrating out of Drupal 7:

  1. Migrate to Drupal 9
  2. Migrate to WordPress
  3. Migrate out of content management systems (CMS) altogether

Moving from D7 to D8 then D9

The primary benefit of sticking with Drupal is that Drupal 8 and D9 are more like Drupal 7 than the alternatives. So, for organizations that are resistant to change and/or simply like or need what Drupal has to offer, then you should migrate from Drupal 7 to Drupal 8. Then, when Drupal 9 is stable, migrate again from D8 top D9. Fortunately, the heavy lift is from D7 to D8. Once you get into D8, the migration to D9 (in theory, according to Dries Buytaert) should be mostly automatic and not a heavy lift.

Moving from Drupal 7 to WordPress

For many organizations, Drupal simply doesn’t make sense or cents. Drupal is more complex. It’s more technical. Fewer developers are qualified to work in Drupal. Drupal developers are more expensive. Drupal tends to take longer to build out. So, if you do the math, Drupal is quite a bit more expensive to build and maintain than WordPress. For many organizations, this additional expense and complexity is simply unnecessary. The rule of thumb is that if you only have a few content managers who are well-known and trusted and all you are really doing is putting out content to be consumed by the public then WordPress is probably more than capable and appropriate for the job. So, you don’t have to wait for D9 to mature. You can simply exit Drupal for good and migrate to WordPress.

Forget about Content Management Systems

In some cases, organizations need more of a web application than a website. If you are operating a Software as a Service (SaaS) platform that requires users to log in to do things then perhaps a CMS is not the right tool. It could be that you need a custom web development application built in something like Python, Java, PHP, React, Javascript, Django, Symfony, Laravel, .NET, or some other technology or development platform. It could be that the public-facing pages are powered by a CMS while the back-end application is powered by something else.

If you need help deciding what to do, give us a call, perhaps we can help.

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