Is your website built in and running on Drupal? Then you may have heard that official Drupal Association support for Drupal 7 is ending on November 21, 2022.

So what does that mean for your website? From that day forward, there will be no official security updates, nor further development or improvement on the platform’s core framework, from the Drupal Association. 

But good news! Drupal 7 will likely continue to be supported by the larger Drupal community as a whole through at least 2024, but there is no guarantee of support or extended life. Ongoing support for Drupal 7 will be completely unofficial and community driven.

Drupal 7 was launched in January 2011. Since then the CMS has received numerous security patches, functionality modules, community support, and bug fixes. Drupal Association launched an updated version in November 2015, Drupal 8, which will end official support in November 2021.

What does that mean for every website on Drupal 7 or Drupal 8?

If your website was built in Drupal 7, it’s running a code base that is over 10 years old that will be patched and updated until 2022. Drupal 7 does not update to Drupal 8.

If your website was built in Drupal 8, it’s running a code base that is over 5 years old that will be patched and updated until 2021, but was designed to easily update to Drupal 9.

Without security patches and support, your website will be increasingly at risk. Just as an older computer is at risk for bugs that may corrupt your data, so too your website is at risk.

Drupal has developed a way for Drupal 8 websites to transition to Drupal 9, but at the expense of leaving Drupal 7 websites behind.

It’s time you thought about how to migrate your soon-to-be-phased-out Drupal 7 site, or how you can plan for an upgrade from D8 to D9. 

What are your options for your D7 site?

There are two primary options business owners and website managers face if they want to remain on Drupal.

  • Migrate from Drupal 7 to Drupal 8 now, and upgrading from D8 to D9 at a later point
  • Wait For Drupal 9

Let’s explore what those options look like.

Migrating from Drupal 7 to Drupal 8

Drupal 7 released in January 2011 and was revolutionary at the time for its ability to be a digital toolbox of options for building websites. Its nearly 10 year lifespan of official support makes it one of the great legacy CMS platforms, but Drupal 7 has an entirely different codebase from Drupal 8, which is why the migration and rebuild to an updated version is pretty challenging. 

The silver lining is that with this migration and rebuild comes the opportunity to spruce up your website, boost its speed, install new marketing technologies, and improve its search engine presence.

What are your Drupal 7 options? They are unfortunately quite limited:

Rely on the Drupal community for support. Many DIY developers and small businesses rely on this approach, hoping that the community will keep 10+ year old website platforms safe and operational but there is a lot of risk with this approach. But even with community support, most Drupal 7 website owners need someone who can maintain and update these community patches, and not having that dedicated partner could leave the site prone to issues.

Migrate and replatform to Drupal 8 then to Peace of Mind for Drupal 9. Our Peace of Mind plan was created to give business owners the peace of mind that their website patches and core updates were being proactively handled and monitored. 

Wait until more developers are experienced with Drupal 9, and community modules have been tested to be compatible with Drupal 9, which may not be until late 2020. Start collecting your website and marketing requirements now, and discuss with your web developer. Secure your spot and create a timeline that gives time for the community to familiarize themselves with D9 but able to launch late 2021. 

Upgrading from Drupal 8 to Drupal 9

Drupal 8, released in November 2015, gave the CMS a complete overhaul that made it more flexible, mobile-friendly, and easier to integrate with third-party modules. 

Unfortunately, there was no direct way to upgrade Drupal 7 to Drupal 8. It requires a complete migration and rebuild, which means you need to back up everything and run a fresh install of your Drupal 8 website. You’ll temporarily have two sites running. The next thing would be to migrate your website configuration, followed by your site content. The theme that holds your site content must also be re-developed.

Migrating your website and re-developing your theme means everything has to be planned well in advance before anything is done. The time needed to re-platform your website will vary depending on the size of the website. 

While Drupal 7 is more procedure-based, Drupal 8 follows PHP’s object-oriented style. In other words, Drupal wanted to generalize the CMS and make it more compatible with libraries from third-party vendors. 

A Drupal 8 upgrade may be worth investing in now, and here’s why: 

  • Ideal for Building Mobile-First Experiences, which allows users to view their content on any device.
  • An updated and more revamped content authoring experience consisting of an easy-to-use WYSIWYG editor and in-context editing, which not only simplifies the editing process but also makes it a whole lot of fun. 
  • Faster and hassle-free content delivery. The dynamic features added play into the enhanced flexibility, besides making work easier for businesses with a heavy workload and limited staff. 
  • Extensive multilingual features. Its dashboard has a built-in translation feature that makes it easy to add translations to your content. 
  • More SEO-friendly.
  • It allows businesses to overcome technical hurdles and make instant changes to their websites without incurring any issues. More features and speed efficiency also play a critical role in increasing conversions.

With all the benefits Drupal 8 has brought to websites, there are few reasons to continue on Drupal 7, and Drupal 9 will bring even more.

We Recommend Migrating to Drupal 8 now.

To summarize, there are three options at the moment:

1 - Migrate now from Drupal 7 to the latest version of Drupal 8. 

2 - Update Drupal 8 to Drupal 9 in the future. 

3 - Wait and migrate from Drupal 7 to Drupal 9. 

We recommend all Drupal 7 website owners strongly consider migrating to Drupal 8 now and then upgrade to Drupal 9 in the future. Our Peace of Mind plan will handle the upgrade when the time is right, and our Strategic Account Managers will communicate the details as we learn more about the Drupal 9 update process.

The first thing we do before migrating any website is to meet with you to understand how your new website will serve your business and further align your 4 Pillars. Our 4 Pillars approach aligns your Strategy, Sales, Marketing, and Technology to further identify how Marketing and Technology can be used to support your Strategy and Sales.

Contact August Ash for a free Drupal Website Evaluation and 4 Pillars Consultation.