Migration from Drupal 7 to Drupal 8

At the beginning of 2019, the Drupal Association announced the "End of Life" of Drupal 7: from November 2021 it will no longer be officially supported. In this article you will read everything you need to know to keep your site safe and reliable and how we can help you with that.

For example with a free technical scan. Request one now!

May 15, 2019

I have a Drupal 7 website. Do I have to migrate to Drupal 8 now?

As soon as the End of Life enters from November 2021, your website will not suddenly go off the radar. It simply means that the CMS will no longer be actively developed on and security releases will cease to be released. The Drupal Association is looking for official partners that can continue to provide support for Drupal 7 with the worldwide community of Drupal developers possibly continuing to take up development. For the long term, however, migration is inevitable. A large part of what you are currently developing in Drupal 7 will have to be re-done in Drupal 8. We therefore advise you start thinking about a migration to avoid wasting time and money.

What exactly does a migration involve?

A migration means that all content, functionality and display must be converted to a new system. The migration from Drupal 7 to Drupal 8 is however primarily a content migration. This means that if everything is structured according to the standards (for nodes, taxonomy terms, users, files and media) then the migration can be largely automated.

However, due to the big differences with Drupal 7, website functionalities will usually have to be migrated manually. Fortunately most modules in Drupal 7 has a corresponding version available in Drupal 8, so conceptually not much needs to be changed.

The display, called 'theme' in Drupal, has been completely overhauled in version 8. Therefore an old theme cannot simply be migrated.  Instead you will have to develop a new theme from the ground up. Many website owners have therefore seized this opportunity to also improve visual design and user experience as part of their migration plan.



Perhaps it's better to wait for Drupal 9?

The logical successor to Drupal 7 is of course Drupal 8. But since Drupal 8 will be phased out at the same time as Drupal 7, it may seem logical to migrate directly to Drupal 9. However, Drupal 9 is built in Drupal 8 and an upgrade is in fact a small one (you can read more about the plan behind Drupal 9 here ). Because a full migration will not be necessary, there is no need to wait for the arrival of Drupal 9 (probably in June 2020) and you can already start migrating to Drupal 8.


Are there alternatives?

There are of course alternatives to Drupal and you can switch to another CMS. But if Drupal 7 has been the most logical choice for your website until now, then Drupal 8 will be too. The benefits will remain the same.

If you have a platform with a lot of functionality then you could also consider migrating to a 'headless' or 'decoupled' setup from Drupal. In this setup you pull the front-end (the part that people see and use) and separate it from the back-end (the CMS, the system that is only used by administrators). The result is that the back-end no longer displays the content as a site but makes it available to the front-end application via a so-called ‘API’ (application programming interface). Dries Buytaert has written a good article about how you can tackle this.

A big advantage is that the front- and back-end can be developed and kept up-to-date separately. In this way you can easily implement a new visual design in the front-end and future migrations will be much less radical. A headless CMS also makes it possible to migrate parts step by step so that you can spread the costs over a longer period.

You can read more about the optimal use of Drupal as a headless CMS in this extensive article from our CTO Martijn Houtman.


Can you migrate my Drupal site?

Yes! is the short answer. As Drupal specialists, we have already completed a number of migrations and are well prepared for these tasks. However, the amount of work strongly depends on the degree of complexity. We determine this with a brief technical assessment; a 'scan' of the structure and operation of the website. For this we need at least access as an administrator to the CMS. It is even better to also have access to the source code and database in order to get a really good picture of the complexity.


A free technical scan by Unc Inc?

To help you on your way, we offer you until November 2021 the opportunity to have a technical assessment of your site done for free, done by a specialist from Unc Inc. We start with an introductory meeting: how did you end up at this point and what are your plans for the future? With this in mind, we look at the technology of your website. We make an analysis and give you advice about the approach to migration and the developments of new components. With a realistic estimate of the time and costs, you can make a well-considered choice for the future of your website.