— Why can't we just keep using Drupal 7?
In November 2021, Drupal 7 will no longer receive active support from the Drupal community, resulting in no further security updates. This also means that integrating future modules and applications, and basic site maintenance initiatives will be much more difficult as time passes. To ensure your website remains secure, online, and healthy, you need to upgrade it to a more modern application.
— Drupal 7 vs Drupal 8—What's the difference?
Drupal remains a powerhouse in the Open Source CMS world (and can be for certain applications). The structural limits of Drupal 7 were identified early, and powerful additions were made with the introduction of the more modern, scalable, and secure Drupal 8.
KEY BENEFITS OF DRUPAL 8 INCLUDE:
- Modern technology stack, which results in more efficient development and lower day-to-day operating costs.
- Improved security from a new templating language that streamlines frontend development and increases application security. On a technical level, all templates would be built using the new Twig template engine. This technology abstraction from PHP is just one of the ways that Drupal 8 improves security and performance.
- Lower cost of management as a result of the improved templating, more flexible modules, more modern practices, and newer technology powering it all
- Easier content management that makes adding, removing, and editing content much easier.
- Mobile-responsive admin interface so site admins can modify content from their phones or tablets.
- Speed and performance improvements that result in improved user experience (UX), site engagement, and SEO performance. Drupal 8 uses improved caching mechanisms to substantially improve loading times for end users.
- Future-proofing your website with a direct upgrade path to Drupal 9 in 2021. Once you’ve upgraded to Drupal 8, the following updates are much less work.
— Should we wait and upgrade from Drupal 7 to Drupal 9?
No, if only it were that easy. The difference between previous versions and Drupal 8 is substantial, and that's where the benefits lie. Drupal 9 is essentially cleaning up vestigial parts of Drupal 8: it removes some legacy and deprecated code, without adding any new features.
Upgrading to Drupal 8 now lets you get all the benefits without waiting. And once you're on Drupal 8, getting onto Drupal 9 will be negligible.
— Will upgrading from Drupal 8 to Drupal 9 be as much work?
Also, no. Drupal’s founder and project lead, who is the co-founder of Acquia, Dries Buytaert, has provided and expertise around this exact topic. According to Buytaert, “the big deal about Drupal 9 is…that it should not be a big deal. The best way to be ready for Drupal 9 is to keep up with Drupal 8 updates.” He says “the upgrade to Drupal 9 will be easy. Because we are building Drupal 9 in Drupal 8, the technology in Drupal 9 will have been battle-tested in Drupal 8.”
Additionally, Drupal.org confirmed this by saying, “it’s made to be an upgrade from Drupal 8. All components from Drupal 8 will be working on day one of Drupal 9.”
Based on these reputable sources, we are confident that the upgrade effort for transitioning from Drupal 8 to Drupal 9 will be minimal. That upgrade will likely take days—or even hours—depending on the complexity of your site. Upgrading from Drupal 7 is a much more involved process.
— How much work is it to upgrade from
It depends on the complexity of your website, but it can be quite involved and take multiple months. There are substantial technical differences between Drupal 7 and Drupal 8+. These differences are significant enough that Drupal 8+ is often considered an entirely different type of technology. As such, Drupal 7 cannot be "upgraded" to Drupal 8. A Drupal 8 application needs to be built from the ground up, with careful migrations conducted with individual parts of your platform.
GET A FREE AUDIT OF YOUR DRUPAL CODEBASE BY OUR EXPERT DRUPAL TEAM
These questions begin your journey, but an audit and planning phase that highlights unique opportunities and issues is the next step. Get a no-obligration code audit to help kick off your roadmap with confidence.
— What sort of projects should I consider during the upgrade to Drupal 8?
Drupal 8 unlocks advanced functionality that lets your website perform better than before. How can you best take advantage of this?
Here are some areas you should think about:
If you've been auditing your user experiences or working on improving conversion rates you likely have a backlog of improvements to make. This update could be a great time for the implementation of design refinements and new features based on the results of Conversion Rate Optimization or User Experience Audit.
Drupal 8 has extensive support for multilingual capabilities. Capabilities allow for native language support for the administrative interface in addition to the public site, and how this information is presented and managed to users. This—along with thoughtful SEO—can help your company establish a digital foothold abroad.
Many people complain about the administrative side of Drupal 7. And oftentimes resources aren't devoted to that. But upgrading to Drupal 8 is a great time to take advantage of the improved UX and flexibility by making customizations. These could allow for faster data searches, improved permission controls, and easier content management.
Drupal is at its best when it's handling large sets of complex data. The newer Drupal 8 Migrate API allows for finer-grained controls of the frequency, resiliency, and notifications for data imports.
Being ADA compliant in 2020 is table stakes. From the administrative interface to the semantic HTML5 output by the Twig template engine, Drupal 8 helps your website reach a larger audience than ever.