Drupal 7 End of Life Is January 5, 2025 — It’s Time to Upgrade!
The deadline for Drupal 7 end of life has been extended to 2025, but it won’t be extended again. You’ll need to upgrade to Drupal 10 or change your CMS in 2024.
What Does Drupal 7 End of Life Mean?
After that date, the Drupal community will stop creating new projects, fixing bugs, and providing support for anyone still using those platforms, leaving outdated sites extremely vulnerable. Drupal 10 is the latest Drupal version and Drupal 11 is on its way in 2024. That means every Drupal 7 website owner to put plans in motion for a Drupal 10 upgrade now.
Here, I’ve laid out some honest answers to how a Drupal upgrade might affect you. Even if you don’t read this whole post, these are the important takeaways you need to know:
- Drupal 10 is the latest Drupal release; Drupal 11 is coming later this year.
- Upgrading from Drupal 7 to a later version is a substantial effort.
- Upgrading from Drupal 8 to 9 or from Drupal 9 to 10 is significantly easier; the upgrades have been vastly simplified.
- You need to plan now to transition an existing site built in 7, 8, or 9 to something newer.
- No matter which situation you’re in, you’ll need an experienced Drupal development team to help you manage your path.
What to Do Now If You Currently Use Drupal 7
Make the jump to the newest version of Drupal starting any time between now and January 2025, but plan for a challenging transition. The good news is this is the last major migration you’ll need to undertake; Drupal upgrades were vastly simplified starting with Drupal 8.
What to Do Now If You Currently Use Drupal 8 or 9
Transition to Drupal 10 immediately, and expect a much easier upgrade than those who are still on Drupal 7 — the process of going from 8 to 9 should be the easiest major Drupal version upgrade in its history. These versions share the same functionality and their core supports the same platforms. If you want to try the Drupal 10 upgrade yourself, refer to our technical guide for upgrading Drupal 9 to 10.
What to Do Now If You’ve Recently Started a Drupal 10 Project
If you’ve embarked on a new Drupal 10 project recently, don’t worry: Drupal 10 to 11 upgrades are much simpler than upgrades from the earlier versions.
What to Do Now If You’re Planning a New Site in Drupal
Drupal 10 is the best option for a new Drupal site in 2024, whether you’re migrating from another CMS or building from scratch.
What about Drupal 11?
Drupal 11 is slated for release in 2024. Like the upgrade from Drupal 9 to 10, the upgrade from 10 to 11 will be a straightforward process that does not require significant rebuilding of your website or application. You can upgrade to Drupal 10 now (or build new sites in it) and transition to Drupal 11 with minimal effort once it’s released.
Should You Switch From Drupal to WordPress or Another CMS?
Before going any further, now’s the time to evaluate alternatives and determine which solution will best fit the needs of your team and your organization as you move into the future. While some of our clients opt for closed-source, proprietary content management systems, the choice for most comes down to Drupal vs. WordPress.
If you’re already in Drupal 8 or later, the move to another CMS will require much more work than upgrading.
However, if you’re on Drupal 7, the upgrade process is a similar amount of work to moving to a new CMS altogether. If you’re uncertain about this decision, we’re happy to help you evaluate the options in further detail.
The Main Benefits of Drupal 10
D10 is built in D9 — essentially, it is just the latest version with minor but meaningful upgrades that include the following:
Integrated configuration management
Controlling data and component display is simpler than ever, especially for non-technical team members, as no coding is required.
Out-of-the-box media management
Although Drupal has a long history of supporting the management of images and generic files, it now offers a generic “media” field for uploading local audio, video, and images, as well as external media from sources like YouTube and Vimeo. A library allows you to easily manage your media archives.
Fully multilingual capabilities
Automated language translation allows you to reach different audiences with localized content. You can target specific geographic locations or audiences with detection of a preferred language based on a user’s IP address, browser settings, URL, or session, and content can be created, updated, and delivered to any audience in 100 different languages.
Accessibility for all
With everything from better text contrast to aural alerts and required image ALT text, D10 lets you create a variety of dynamic content interactions that are more usable for all.
Enhancements allow content managers to make changes more easily from mobile devices, and end users to more easily consume content on the mobile platform of their choice.
D10 features the fastest page loads to date thanks to new caching features.
New Administrative Theme
To make the content management experience smoother and more up-to-date, a new administrative theme, “Claro”, ships with Drupal 10
Updated WYSIWYG Editor
CKEditor 5, a more robust and user friendly text editor, ships with Drupal 10.
As a Developer, What Do I Gain?
Drupal has obviously established itself as an enterprise-class CMS, but under the hood, the architecture and coding practices have been more suited to PHP tinkerers than true software engineers. Looking back to Drupal 7, it was a lot of Spaghetti PHP, mostly procedural code, and config-in-the-database meant that Drupal just didn’t feel like the kind of system you expected to work on as a developer at that time.
But D10 — as an extension of the Drupal 8 rewrite — represents a fundamental rethinking of D7’s architecture, and the shift toward object orientation, Twig 2-based templates, config-in-files, and a host of other changes make it something that can attract and maintain the attention of more seasoned developers. Combine it with PHP 7.4.5, and you’ve got an architecture and development framework that feels much more contemporary.
As a System Administrator, What Do I Gain?
The most obvious answer to what Drupal 10 offers the system admins/IT folks is future-proofing. Drupal 7 and other outdated versions will eventually go the way of D6, left like an Apollo service module to float into space — appreciated, but no longer needed (or supported). You’re going to have to upgrade at some point, and planning for that upgrade can’t happen soon enough.
D10 also offers you the ability to implement a more well-governed devops workflow: the move from config-in-the-database to config-in-files makes versioning, staging, and feature updates much more practical. That said, your developers will still need to make use of those features for them to be valuable to you. Make sure they’re using the config exporter and the Features module and that they’re being smart about compartmentalizing their code. Otherwise, you’re in for the same D7-style devops workflow: “keep a text document that lists the steps, and repeat the changes in both databases on deployment.”
As a Content Manager, What Do I Gain?
As a content manager, Drupal 10 probably won’t feel like a drastically different world, although the user experience will feel smoother and more up-to-date. It uses almost all of the same terms you’re used to: content types, nodes, taxonomy, views, etc., which means you won’t have to retrain yourself on how to manage content. It uses an updated CKEditor for editing body copy, a new administration theme, and sets the stage for visual content editing with modules like Layout Builder and Layout Paragraphs.
As a content manager, one of the most important things for you to know about upgrading is this: Drupal is really a collection of modules, and your site’s administrative back end is the product of how all of those modules are configured to interact with one another.
With a new administrative theme, updated text editor, and tools like Layout Builder, Drupal 10 sets the stage for a more modern, visual content editing experience.
What About the End User?
Because Drupal is so flexible, the end user’s experience will depend heavily on how well crafted and intuitive the front end of your website is. That said, Drupal 8 and Drupal 9 brought a host of performance improvements that are carried over into Drupal 10, especially when teamed up with PHP 7.3 or higher (the latest versions of Drupal’s underlying programming language). So you can expect a lot less sluggishness when serving pages. Additionally, Drupal 10 plays very well with a lot of the modern front-end frameworks (e.g., AngularJS, React), so your developers have a lot of freedom in how they craft the design and user experience.
What Module and Theme Changes Should I Know About?
Essentially, all other modules that worked in Drupal 9 will work in Drupal 10 as long as they don’t contain deprecated code. Most modules have been long-ready for Drupal 10 since module compatibility is much more seamless in later versions of Drupal.
How Hard Will the Upgrade From 7 to 10 Be?
Unlike the easy upgrade from Drupal 9 to Drupal 10, making the jump from 7 to 10 will be fraught with potential issues — a lot has changed, and the upgrade paths aren’t always clear — but the effort will be well worth it in the end. If your site involves only a small set of very common modules, the process will be simpler, but you should still plan for some complexity. Also, the theme engine has changed drastically, so you’ll have some work to do if you want to convert custom templates to Twig 2 (assuming you’re not using an out-of-the-box theme). Plan early for your upgrade and don’t underestimate the effort.
If you’re already on Drupal 9, the smoothest path you can create while awaiting your upgrade is to stay current with update releases and the latest versions of dependencies, modules, and APIs.
If your existing site is ready for an upgrade or you’re planning to begin a new Drupal project, reach out to begin a discussion with our team as early in the process as possible. We’ll explain how the changes presented here apply to your unique situation and create a strategy for reaching your goals most effectively.
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