Drupal 7 End of Life is slated for November 2021.
Drupal project leads announced this sunset target years ago. If your site is built on the popular Drupal 7 platform and you haven’t started to think about D7 end of life, the countdown clock ticks a little louder each month.
It’s time to make your plans about transitioning to either Drupal 8 (available now) or Drupal 9 (available this summer).
This article will help you understand the facts about Drupal 7 end of life. We will also provide recommendations for transitioning successfully from Drupal 7 to Drupal 8.
Transitioning from Drupal 7 to Drupal 8 is not the big unknown quantity you might fear it is. Plenty of time remains to plan thoughtfully, execute carefully, and even expand your site in new dimensions. However, you must start preparing today. “Drupal 7 End of Life in 2021” simply means a better version of your site lives around the corner. Take a few purposeful steps with us, and you’ll be on your way.
Transitioning from Drupal 7 End of Life to Drupal 8, then Drupal 9
If you’re on Drupal 7, you want to move to Drupal 8 as soon as possible, and eventually move to Drupal 9 sometime before November 2021.
You might have some of the following questions…
“Drupal 7 is our trusted platform, why is it going away?”
Drupal’s open source community of developers pushes the platform to evolve and adapt constantly. Drupal 7 was the best version of Drupal possible upon its release in 2011. By now, it’s a little dated. D7 architecture lacks certain modern ways of performing complex technical feats that D8 ships with. As good as Drupal 7 was, Drupal 8 takes the Drupal platform further into the future. Drupal 9 will be a significant improvement from Drupal 8.
“What does ‘Drupal 7 End of Life’ mean, exactly?”
Drupal 7 end of life means Drupal 7 will no longer be supported by the Drupal community, and will essentially be left behind by the Drupal “hive mind”. There will be no more core updates, developers will not create any new projects (modules), maintain features or fix bugs in existing projects, and will stop providing documentation for Drupal 7.
For more on this topic, read this PSA from Drupal.
“Will my Drupal 7 site stop working after November 2021?”
No, it won’t stop working from one day to the next. But security updates and maintenance will stop occurring. Like a house that’s not being repaired in a timely and holistic manner, your site will begin to wear down. In fact, you might start to see Drupal module maintainers ignoring certain issues before Fall 2021. They may elect to prioritize their time on Drupal 8 and/or Drupal 9, almost exclusively.
Although updates, security fixes, and enhancements purport to be available on a limited basis from commercial vendors, we would not advise relying on this heavily. You’ll be paying a premium for services that you would otherwise enjoy free of charge from the larger and more dynamic Drupal community, if you were on the current Drupal version.
“What’s the difference between Drupal 7 and Drupal 8?”
Many key differences exist, as you would expect to see between major core version releases. Drupal 8 completely changed the underlying architecture of the Drupal content management system. Drupal leadership made bold changes to remain on the cutting edge of modern web development and sophisticated user experiences.
Important advancements from Drupal 7 to Drupal 8 include:
- New Theme Engine (Twig) – simpler syntax, more versatile theming
- New Text editor – now a standard part of core, offering a more robust feature set
- More Flexible Field Types – new field types and easier means to deploy them for custom use cases
- Quick Edit – the ability to make changes to the content directly from the website’s frontend.
- Core Multilingual – new modules like language, content translation, interface translation, configuration translation shipped in core.
- Views in Core – easier for developers to access and customize Views
- Built-in Web Services – powerful tools to create app-like experiences from your website
- Built-in Configuration Management – enabling developers to move configuration elements from their local development environment to the web server, and track the configuration changes through version control.
- Better Support for Website Accessibility – developers can use HTML5 natively, employ industry standard accessibility technologies, and leverage improved features to make the website accessible across devices.
Reference our blog post about reasons to switch from Drupal 7 to Drupal 8.
“What’s the difference between Drupal 8 and Drupal 9?”
Unlike the major step forward from Drupal 7 to Drupal 8, Drupal 9 will be more like a sleeker version of Drupal 8. Drupal 9 will no doubt bring new advancements into core. But first, Drupal needs to move to the latest version of Symfony, an internal third-party dependency. Drupal 9 will be largely the same as the last Drupal 8 minor version, with its dependencies updated. Most extensions will only need a few changes. That’s the good news: transitioning your site from Drupal 8 to Drupal 9 will be a much easier process than most Drupal version upgrades.
“What’s the smart way to go about transitioning from Drupal 7 to Drupal 8 or Drupal 9”
If your site runs on Drupal 7, start planning the process of migrating to Drupal 8 now. Upgrade to Drupal 9 from Drupal 8 when you’re ready.
There’s no advantage right now in going directly from Drupal 7 to Drupal 9. The hard work resides in getting to Drupal 8. According to Drupal.org, “90% of the work required to migrate to Drupal 9 is accomplished by migrating on to 8.
Drupal 9 developers target June 2020 for the initial release. Don’t assume that this is your target for moving to Drupal 9, though. Typically, not all modules are versioned up to the latest core release at the very moment that the new core version becomes available. It could be months, possibly Fall 2021, until the full Drupal ecosystem makes it onto the Drupal 9 platform. You have until November 2021 for Drupal 8 to reach end of life, and sometime before then you can get to Drupal 9. Going from D8 to D9 doesn’t take special planning as long as you keep your Drupal 8 core and modules up to date in the meantime.
“Where do I start?”
Start by contacting us, so we can help you sort out the specifics.
We’ll ask some important discovery questions, including:
- Do you love your site, just as it is, and all its content and functionality?
- Have you been considering any important new features, or sections, for your site?
- Have you been considering redesigning your site?
If you don’t want to change anything about your site functionality, design, or content: we can provide budget and delivery timeline estimates for your Drupal 8 migration project fairly quickly.
If you’ve been thinking about adding new features or a new type of content/offering on your site: we can explain how layering that new work into a Drupal 8 re-platform project might be more efficient than delivering this to your Drupal 7 site. Remember that you’d eventually have to rebuild it for Drupal 8. Does it make sense to build it twice? That should be evaluated on a case by case basis, as we realize that you may need something in the near term that can’t wait for a larger Drupal 8 rebuild project in the longer term.
Considering a redesign? Tell us about your goals and requirements. Sometimes a redesign can actually simplify a re-platforming. Take this opportunity to finally cut ties with old technical debt or design and content structures that aren’t working for you anymore. Certainly, if you want to make any significant changes, let’s incorporate these changes into the big picture of Drupal 7 end of life and the Drupal 8 transition into Drupal 9.
Drupal 7 End of Life: Your Takeaways
In this article, we hope you have learned the following about Drupal 7 end of life, the recommended transition to Drupal 8, and the context behind Drupal 9 replacing Drupal 8.
- Drupal 7 will sunset next year, and you don’t want your site to get left behind.
- By being proactive about transitioning to Drupal 8, you will sooner feel the important advantages that Drupal 8 and 9 has to offer.
- There’s no advantage in going directly from Drupal 7 to Drupal 9.
- The transition from Drupal 8 to Drupal 9 should be relatively easy.
- Take action now. For your peace of mind and your site’s benefit, contact Entermedia to start discussing your schedule for the transition as well as your larger goals for your site.
To learn more, read our recommended Drupal 7 transition roadmap: