The Cheeky Monkey Media Blog
A few words from the apes, monkeys, and various primates that make up the Cheeky Monkey Super Squad.
One of the greatest Drupal platforms, but a little past its prime, Drupal 7 is still actively operating on over 600,000 websites, out of more than 1.7 million sites that use the Drupal platform. Its legacy and usage is significant, considering Drupal 9 has been available for upgrade since June 2020, with 10 on the way in August 2022. Let’s remember that Drupal 7 was released in January 2011, more than ten years ago now. Initially, Drupal.org announced it would end support in November 2021, but due to the Covid-19 pandemic and its crippling effect on some businesses, it was extended to 2022, and now Drupal.org has announced on their website that:
“We are extending the end-of-life by one year to November 1, 2023.”
The Drupal.org team likely reached this decision because they don’t want to leave such a significant number of large, important web properties (including governmental and educational ones) that have not yet migrated off of Drupal 7 essentially unprotected. There could be the belief that it’s their moral obligation to continue to address Drupal 7’s security issues, which is understandable on their part. After this date, support will be available only from selected providers, but not directly from Drupal: no more security updates, bug-fixing, or documentation. On the one hand, we believe this is good news for owners of old websites built on Drupal 7, but some also think it’s terrible news for the Drupal ecosystem. To them, this might be concise proof that demonstrates a significant fragmentation between versions. Despite all this, Drupal did mention in their official article that “the scheduled Drupal 7 End-of-Life date will be re-evaluated annually.” Let’s also keep in mind that Drupal 8 ceased to be supported in November 2021, because of Drupal 9’s recent release and the subsequent release of Drupal 10 expected this summer. It’s no secret that most established web developers still regularly receive requests to work with clients who prefer to extend the life of less secure, obsolete technology as long as possible, and who don’t love the idea of migrating (and the associated costs) until absolutely no other choice is available.
Here at Cheeky Monkey, we personally have nothing against Drupal 7 – in fact we’ve loved all the Drupal 7 client projects we’ve built and launched – but we strongly recommend that all projects with this soon-to-be demarcated version (aka unsupported and open to security risks) migrate to Drupal 9 as soon as possible.
Sure, you’ve got a stay of execution. Most of you are probably pretty happy for the extension, as you may have been scrambling to plan and budget for a Drupal migration. If we can be the Ghost of Migration’s Future: We highly encourage you not to sit on it again, just to be in the same stressed spot next year.
Even if your organization is on a budget and surprised by the cost of a migration from Drupal 7 to 9/10, having an obsolete platform brings many potential risks. Compatibility, security, and compliance issues are widespread when running end-of-life software. We don’t recommend you leave it to the last minute. Having a Drupal site on a version that is no longer supported means that your site’s data and infrastructure would be at a much higher risk of being hacked. There are also a considerable number of hurdles that may arise if a company continues to use Drupal 7 indefinitely. Here are a few of them:
- Fewer developers will want to toil on Drupal 7, which will make it even more challenging to find support.
- It will continue to rely on an outdated version of PHP; Most web hosts will stop supporting PHP 7 as of November of this year.
- Drupal 7 core will not be improved upon, only upheld for patches to security fixes until 2023.
- Most modules are not actively maintained for Drupal 7. Few Drupal 7 modules are being improved upon or supported going forward. As mentioned, most are only held for security fixes, and most “maintenance” services wouldn’t include even that.
Currently, Drupal 9 is based on an innovative model where new features are introduced in minor releases while maintaining backward compatibility. This will provide site owners with a more precise roadmap in the future as to how they will be affected by future versions of Drupal. You can innovate and update your site, ensuring that you won’t need a complete rebuild from scratch in the future. Drupal 10 will be a direct evolution of Drupal 9, which means that the first version will be similar to the latest version of Drupal 9. This means that by keeping your Drupal sites up to date, you will be prepared for an easy, cost-effective upgrade once Drupal 10 comes out this summer.
We’ve got your back. Our expert team of highly trained Drupal monkey wrenchers (aka developers) can answer your questions and concerns about how you can migrate your current Drupal site to the most current and best version for your organization. Contact us and let’s map out the best plan for your site evolution.