Migration from Drupal 7 to Drupal 8

Earlier this year the Drupal Association made an 'End of Life' announcement through this Public Service Announcement, and will therefore stop officially supporting the software from November 2021. Drupal 7 was released in November 2011 (the year the world ended according to the Mayan calendar) and will therefore have been supported for a total of 10 years.

May 15, 2019

The logical successor is Drupal 8, released in November 2015, and has a slightly different 'release cycle' from previous versions: where Drupal 8 is an almost completely new version compared to Drupal 7, and therefore can be quite some work to migrate, Drupal 8 is being set up in such a way that migration to Drupal 9 will be a much smaller step; the first version of Drupal 9 will therefore be a minor upgrade from the latest version of Drupal 8.

I now have a Drupal 7 website. Do I have to migrate? And if so, how?

When the End of Life enters, it does not mean that the website will suddenly stop working. From that moment on, it solely means the Drupal Association does not provide official support, and therefore will no longer be active development on the platform, and there will be no more security releases. In all likelihood however, there will be a paid service for official support, just like this was the case with Drupal 6. In addition, there will always be a community that may pick up on development. In other words: the development will not come to a complete halt.

Our advice, however, is to think about taking steps for a migration, especially when there are concrete plans now for (relatively large) updates. Keep in mind, however, that a migration is primarily a migration of content. Functional components may have to be redesigned and reimplemented. A new theme will need to be developed, as old themes will not be able to be migrated. This therefore offers opportunities to update your site and bring it into the next century :-)

Should I not wait for Drupal 9?

Drupal 8 will be phased out at the same time as Drupal 7, so it may feel a little illogical to go to Drupal 8 first. But this is precisely the advantage of the setup of Drupal 8: the code is written in such a way that Drupal 9 will continue where Drupal 8 will stop, without having to do another complete migration. Read more about the Drupal 9 plan in this article.


What does a migration entail?

A migration means that all content, functionality and visual elements must be converted to a new system. As stated earlier, a migration mainly offers the copying of content, such as Nodes, Taxonomy Terms, Users, Files and Media. This can be automated for the largest part, provided that work has been done properly within the Drupal standards. Functional components will usually be manual work, although a version for Drupal 8 can be found for most modules for Drupal 7, and not too much has to be changed conceptually. Regarding the presentation, in the case of Drupal a theme, everything has been completely redesigned, and the majority will have to be set up again. However, we are well prepared for this and have already gone through a number of migrations, so we have a good idea of ​​what needs to be done.


Are there any alternatives?

Of course there are alternatives, but the same reasons for having chosen Drupal 7, apply to Drupal 8 (for example content based websites), and we advice to not invest too much in the current version but rather invest in migrating to the new version.

However, it is also possible to migrate a website in parts, for example if it is a more functional platform. A good way of doing this, for example, is to go for a 'headless' setup. Dries Buytaert has written a good article about this.

What we do in the case of a migration to a headless design is to pull the front (the part that people see and use) away from the back (the CMS, the part that is usually only used internally). We usually make the front with Javascript techniques that specialize in it, for example React. The back then remains as it is now, but instead of displaying the content as a website, the back will now be purely a data-driven component that discloses this data through a so-called API. This results in a stricter separation between front and back, so that these can be considered as separate parts, and can be developed independently and kept up-to-date. This also offers the possibility to migrate part by part, so that the costs are spread over a longer period of time, and investments are not made in parts that can no longer be used later.


Can you migrate my Drupal site?

Most probably it does, although it depends on the type of site, how much work this will entail. If the Drupal standards have been used properly, migration will be a lot easier than if a lot of manual work has been done that is very specific to this site.

We usually start with a short assessment, in which we look at the structure and design of the site. Based on this we can properly estimate how much work it would cost us to implement the migration. For this we require (administrator) access to the site, but access to both the code and database will help a lot.

Do you want us to help you with this? Then contact us!