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Drupal End of Life - What Should I Do?
Web migrations sound scary, but Drupal’s open-source community is taking care of us so we can keep the latest version to take advantage of the world’s best CMS!

Drupal end of life - What should I Do?

Drupal Core Committees are working hard on helping us prepare for the easiest website migrations as possible to ensure the world’s leading web content management system remains modern, leverages the latest technologies, performs exceptionally well and is, of course, secure. 

Image of the Drupal end of life timeline with key information.
Drupal end of life timeline

Drupal 7 End of Life: November 2021

Hearing that your website content management system (CMS) is at its end of life is not something anyone ever wants to learn about as, like most of us, you have a ton of things to do and don’t always have the time and resources for a web migration.

We totally get that! But with change comes many new awesome opportunities. So as you consider what to do when Drupal 7 end of life coming in November 2021, take into account that change needs to happen in the digital space. Change can be scary, but it is also necessary

We love the Drupal community. Historically, Drupal would only support two major versions of the platform at the time.  Instead, they realized how many great websites adopted Drupal 7 and extended the support including the platform’s security longer than normal allowing all of us to leverage the most value as possible from our investments.

This means that all Drupal 7 sites will receive additional support for another year and a half!  How amazing is that!

Still using Drupal 7 and are wondering how to migrate?

If you are still on Drupal 7, as many of us, it is important to ensure you are staying up to date with your PHP versions as well. 

If you decide to stay on Drupal 7 until after 2021, we, alongside the Drupal Core Committees that you should engage a vendor like OPIN for a long term support contract, or better yet, migrate to Drupal 9.

The long term support contract will help you patch and maximize the value of your Drupal 7 investment for as long as possible with the lowest level of investment until you are ready to move to 9. 

Most Drupal 7 sites will now skip 8 and go straight to 9 given where we are in the migration cycle!

Drupal 8 End of Life: November 2021

As well, Drupal 8 has a dependency on Symfony 3 which has an end-of-life-date of November 2021, so the Drupal community will align its plans with it as well. 

So to keep your Drupal sites secure, Drupal 8 and 9 need to adopt Symfony 5. Therefore, this means the end-of-life of Drupal 8 can be no later than November 2021.

Still using Drupal 8 and are wondering how to migrate?

If you are on Drupal 8, you just have to keep your Drupal 8 site up-to-date and you'll be ready for Drupal 9.

Drupal 9 will be released in 2020, and it will be an easy upgrade

As Nathaniel Catchpole explained in his blog "The Long Road to Drupal 9", this open-source CMS uses various third-party technologies such as Symfony, Twig, and Guzzle so that it continues to stay ahead of the curve. 

This means that the Drupal platform needs to keep in sync with these technologies to ensure nothing breaks, deprecates or worst remains unsecure.

WHY UPGRADE TO DRUPAL 9?

Many features were added throughout Drupal 8’s lifespan. These features helped improve the methods of solving problems, which eventually led to the previous code to become deprecated, which is to say it should no longer be used due to better alternatives.

Clock chart of the Drupal API versions.

Chart used from documentations on Drupal.org

In other words, as the founder of Drupal, Dries Buytaert stated:

  • “Any Drupal 8 module that does not use deprecated code will continue to work with Drupal 9.
  • Any Drupal 8 module that uses deprecated code needs to be updated before Drupal 9 is released, or it will stop working with Drupal 9.”

Working on Drupal 9 within the same codebase as Drupal 8 provides an opportunity to remove anything that will no longer be necessary, which will ensure a seamless integration process for your organization. 

Migrating to Drupal 9 will be easy (ish)

Providing that you are caught up on your Drupal 8 updates, making the move from Drupal 8 to 9 will be a breeze, however, moving from Drupal 7 to 9 is a different story. 

As mentioned, Drupal 9 is built from Drupal 8, meaning that the upgrade path has been carefully designed to be much easier. The implementations that the Drupal community has previously created for Drupal 8 over the years mean that the upgrade from 7 to 9 will be a much larger task.

To further iterate this point, Helena McCabe, a member of the Drupal Association states: 

“Instead of waiting for Drupal 9, we recommend migrating from Drupal 7 to Drupal 8 as soon as possible. Incorporate deprecation checking tools into the migration process to make sure the upgrade is as Drupal 9 compatible as possible.”

The last minor release of Drupal 8 between now and June 3, 2020, will become Drupal 9. It is very important to keep the Drupal core up to date if you are currently on Drupal 8 to ensure a better upgrade experience. 

Chart of the timeline for the Drupal version releases.

Timeline used from documentations on Drupal.org

So far, thousands of sites have transitioned to Drupal 8, and are now ready for Drupal 9, be sure that you are prepared for the June 3, 2020 release which will mitigate the risk of taking on a much more costly and lengthy transition to Drupal 9.

Wait, I only have a year to migrate from Drupal 8 to 9?

Yes, but here is the great news for those of us who have gone through these migrations before. Moving from Drupal 8 to 9 will be MUCH easier than previous upgrades due to how many similarities in the platforms. 

The first release of Drupal 9.0.0 is designed to be VERY similar to the last release of Drupal 8. 

It has two primary goals: 

1.  To make transitioning from 8 to 9 easier. 

2.  To Remove/deprecate all the code in 8 that is no longer needed to make the platform as clean and ready to scale in its newest version. Which is awesome for all us Drupal web developers.

So keep your Drupal 8 websites up to date with every release and then you will be well prepared for Drupal 9!

What about all my add-on modules supported in Drupal 9?

This one is a bit more tricky, as it truly depends on the individuals contributing to each module/add-on as there is no control or way to ensure they are keeping up. 

Again some great news, if these modules are using the latest Drupal 8 APIs, they SHOULD WORK with Drupal 9, but we highly recommend testing each one to ensure nothing is broken.

Have questions on how to migrate your website?

Due to Drupal End of Life here at OPIN, we have helped many large enterprises create daring and unique web solutions. Using Drupal, we strive to take your project further than any “out of the box” content management system is capable of. 

Our enterprise websites are specially designed to enhance your agency's lead generation, marketing, conversion, and brand engagement.

Need help migrating from Drupal 7 to 8 or 9?

Working with OPIN to create your next project means that we will be with you every step of the way. We will integrate comprehensive digital solutions, providing you and your users with a truly enterprise-level digital experience.

OPIN has worked on some incredibly complex and ambitious Drupal projects over the years. The enterprises we work with often require several digital properties, enhanced workflow capabilities, world-class accessibility compliance, and custom integrations across technologies.

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Ryan is a passionate storyteller who thrives on challenging the status quo. He is an avid researcher with a keen analytical mind able to strategize on sales and marketing decisions by analyzing data and behaviours across various industries and technologies.