It’s official - Drupal 7 will be sailing off into the sunset in November of 2021. Drupal’s creator and evangelist, Dries Buytaert, has confirmed that the community will be ending support for this project at the same time as Drupal 8. Drupal 7 is still the most widely used version of Drupal on the internet today.
While the chart above only reports on sites that have the update status module enabled, it's clear that there are a large number of websites that will need to be migrated to ensure that they are secure, robust, and using the latest technology. Due to the sheer number of sites on Drupal 7, the community is taking more time phasing out support, giving owners ample time to migrate.
Wait, Drupal 8 Support is Going to End at the Same Time?
Yes. Drupal is adopting the same release cycle as Symphony, the primary underlying software that Drupal 8 runs on. This will allow the next version of Drupal, Drupal 9, to be built on the newest version of Symphony. In this way, Drupal will stay on top of emerging trends, boost security, and increase performance as it evolves.
Didn’t I Just Upgrade to Drupal 8? Do I Have to Replatform Again?
No. One of the key advantages is that the upgrade path between Drupal 8 and 9 has much less friction. Assuming your site has been frequently updated and patched, and the modules used within the website are maintained and aren’t using deprecated APIs, the path to upgrade should be as simple as a composer update command. So if you’re on Drupal 8 right now, (especially if you’re one of our existing clients) maintaining an up-to-date site should be easy and will have minimal development overhead.
The Drupal 9 Release
Drupal 9 will be released on June 3rd, 2020, a little over a year before the end of life for Drupal 7 and 8. This gives the community and developers plenty of time to work out the kinks and get a more stable and solid CMS ready for our clients. So when Drupal 8 ends, we can be confident in moving it to version 9.
What If I’m Still Using Drupal 7?
Support ends for Drupal 7 in about two years, so there is still time to invest in moving your sites over to Drupal 8. While the upgrade path between 8 and 9 should be relatively seamless, the same can’t be said for Drupal 7 to 8. Since the underlying framework radically changed between 7 and 8, we usually recommend a redesign, since this allows us to add features such as greater usability, compliance, faster search, and improved security.
We have, however, done some re-platforming if there isn’t budget for a complete redesign. This would mean we keep the existing design and UX, but end up re-building the theme and backend. End users of your website will see little difference, but a content editor will have access to all of the updated features for Drupal 8, as well as a path to Drupal 9 and beyond.
We’re Here to Help
If you’re an existing client of Boston Digital, your account rep will be reaching out about this so that you’re aware. If you aren’t one of our existing clients but are interested in our services, please feel free to contact us and we can discuss your situation in more detail. While the overhaul from Drupal 7 to 8 was pretty substantial, the path from Drupal 8 to 9 is much less painful due to the groundwork that was already laid.