Drupal 7 to Drupal 8 Migration: The Last Major Headache
Drupal is one of the most popular open-source content management systems (CMS) in the world. According to the Usage statistics for the Drupal core page, almost 1.1 million sites are based on the Drupal core project at the moment of writing this post.
The CMS boasts a huge community of over 1 million members residing in all corners of the globe from China to the USA. Many respectable and renowned organizations and businesses have websites powered by Drupal, including the White House and the Economist.
MIGRATION WOES BEFORE DRUPAL 8
Although the release of the latest major version — Drupal 8 — took place in November 2015, only a relatively small percentage of website owners have migrated to the new platform so far. If we visit the same Usage statistics page, we’ll see that as of October 13, 2019, the number of Drupal 8-based websites is just over 300,000. At the same time, the number of websites that are still using the previous version of the CMS — Drupal 7 — is much greater — nearly 720,000.
There can be several reasons why website owners are so reluctant to switch over to the new system. One of them is the sheer complexity of the process. Up until the Drupal 8 release, upgrading to a new version was a mammoth undertaking.
Each new major version differed from its predecessor in, well, a major way. It was like lifting a train with all of its passengers and hauling it over to another track instead of simply letting the people leave one train on their own and take another one. That caused multiple incompatibilities between the two versions.
Apart from the core issues, Drupal users experienced problems with the contributed modules they’d installed on the old system. Those had to be upgraded as well. However, not all of them got new versions and had to be abandoned. The content migration presented yet another headache. Visit this page to watch a video from the DrupalCon conference held in Seattle in April 2019 for a better insight into the matter.
DRUPAL 8: A NEW MIGRATION APPROACH
Drupal 8 introduced a completely new approach to upgrading the system. After moving up from Drupal 7 to Drupal 8, there will be no more radical rebuilds when migrating between major versions like it had been before. The platform simply gets frequent minor updates.
Every month or even a couple of weeks, users receive minor releases with bug fixes and security patches. Take a look at the list of the latest releases on Drupal’s official website. You will see, for example, that only thirteen days passed from Release 8.7.4 till Release 8.7.5. That means better protection against cyber threats and a more stable performance of a Drupal-powered website since the problems discovered get solved more promptly.
Another benefit of the new upgrading method is the compatibility of all modules between future major versions. So, when Drupal 9 is released, any Drupal 8 module will run on the new platform. You may only be notified of the need to tweak certain modules (e.g., get a new library version) to make them fully operational on the new system. Who knows? Perhaps that green box on a Drupal module page with the compatible versions may eventually disappear.
DO YOU REALLY NEED TO MIGRATE TO DRUPAL 8 RIGHT NOW?
Actually, you still have some time before the official Drupal 7 support is terminated. According to the Drupal release/end-of-life timeline (you can find it here — “Preparing for Drupal 9” section), the Drupal security and bug fix support will end in the fourth quarter of 2021, while commercial security support will be performed until at least 2024.
That said, Drupal 9’s release is very close — the second quarter of 2020. While in the past many businesses often skipped one major version to reduce costs, that will no longer be the case with Drupal 8 to Drupal 9 migration. The process is expected to be smooth and painless. Migrating to D8 now will save you a lot of trouble in the future. Get an update every month or less, and live a trouble-free life.
We know that Drupal 7 to Drupal 8 migration can be a long and expensive process, especially for large enterprise websites with thousands of pages. You can follow the official upgrading guide to transfer your data to the new platform yourself. However, you are likely to stumble upon some blocks that may disrupt the smooth operation of your website.
A more sensible approach is to hire professionals who will take care of the whole upgrading business. The PSD2HTML Drupal development team is comprised of seasoned pros with years of experience working with this CMS on their résumés.
We provide the entire range of Drupal services from custom theme and module development to performance optimization and maintenance. Let us handle the migration of your website from Drupal 7 to Drupal 8 to ensure the perfect integrity of your valuable data.