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September 11, 2020

Drupal 7 End of Life and Support: A Guide to Next Steps

Drupal 7 was launched nearly a decade ago. That time has allowed many organizations to create awesome websites powered by over 11,000 contributed modules, 600 themes, and 200 distributions. But as they say, all good things must come to an end. Drupal 7 will reach end of life in November 2022, and bidding it farewell leaves many companies considering their next steps.

D7’s end of life was originally planned for November 2021, but with the impact of COVID-19 on so many businesses and their budgets, the team at Drupal decided to extend the timeline. Alongside it, Drupal 8’s end of life is also scheduled for November 2021 — a date that they’re sticking with due to dependencies. That means D7 will actually live on beyond D8’s scheduled EOL. 

The impending EOL dates have a lot of organizations dependant on Drupal 7 weighing their options:

  • Go from Drupal 7 to 8 (and eventually to 9) 
  • Skip Drupal 8 and eventually upgrade to Drupal 9
  • Switch to a new CMS
  • Stay on D7 using a Long-term Support provider 

Every website and company is different. There’s no catch-all answer when it comes to making the decision of when and how to upgrade your Drupal system. And while it’s important to make a strategic decision, there’s no need to panic or rush. In this blog post, we’ll help outline the pros and cons of each option — kind of like a Drupal choose-your-own-adventure. One where the ending includes a website about which you feel really confident. 

We’re here to help with your Drupal 7 End of Life and Support. If you’re ready, reach out and we’ll help you with a plan. 

Drupal 7 End of Life: Frequently Asked Questions

What does end of life mean?

When a piece of software reaches its end of life date, it will no longer receive bug fixes or security updates from the maintainers. 

How long will Drupal 7 be supported?

Previously, Drupal 7’s end-of-life was scheduled for November 2021. Given the impact of COVID-19 on budgets and businesses, Drupal has extended the end of life until November 28, 2022.

Is Drupal 7 obsolete?

No. Even though it’s a decade-old, end of life does not mean the end of your site. After the community stops supporting Drupal 7, a group of approved and vetted vendors will continue to provide security updates for Drupal 7 core and certain contrib modules under the Drupal 7 Vendor Extended Support program.

What is the difference between Drupal 7, Drupal 8, and Drupal 9?

Drupal 7’s release was considered a big update, but Drupal 8 adds a complete rework of the underlying architecture and a new set of powerful features. While Drupal 7 is still supported, it currently does not receive any new core features. 

Drupal 8 is also made to handle large complex websites with greater needs for functionality. And since Drupal 8 was such a major rework, that means the leap to Drupal 9 isn’t as big. Because D9 is the next step in the evolution after D8, it can actually be updated as part of a global Drupal release cycle rather than needing to be a large website overhaul. In comparison, the D7 to D9 transition will definitely require more work.

Drupal 9 highlights include:

  • Easy author editing with a WYSIWYG editor 
  • Smart language translation
  • Responsive to touchscreens, tablets, and mobile readers
  • Improved Compliance
  • Universal configuration storage

How do I convert Drupal 7 to Drupal 8? 

As mentioned, Drupal 8 significantly changed the way content and configuration is stored in the database, and is a rework of the underlying architecture. An update can’t simply be made to an existing Drupal 7 site. The content and configuration data from the Drupal 7 site must be migrated to a new Drupal 8 site.

Image demonstrating migrations from D6 and D7 to D8, for Drupal 7 end of life.
Image: courtesy of Drupal.org

When did Drupal 9 launch?

Drupal 9 was released on June 3, 2020. Drupal has listed their release cycle overview for more details. Drupal 9 was released alongside Drupal 8.9, a long-term-support (LTS) minor release of Drupal 8.

What about Drupal 10?

Drupal has said they’re targeting to release Drupal 10 around June 2022.

What do you need to do to prepare to get out of Drupal 7?

Technical mapping. When picking new modules or new features, keep in mind that you’re planning for the future. Do you have a clear update path for when you upgrade to D8 or D9 (and beyond)? For an in-depth look at technical mapping, check out Drupal’s guide to preparing your site

Content Audit. No matter which option you take, it’s a good idea to start a content audit to determine what should stay and what should go.  This is especially true when it comes time to migrating to a new site. 

Identity Stakeholders. You’ll likely have several members of your team involved in the steps needed to update your site. Make note of who will be responsible for what, and how you’ll start the process. 

Determine Budget. Whether you migrate to D8 or D9, or move to an entirely new CMS, you’ll need to set a realistic budget to ensure you can complete the project.

Drupal 7 End of Life Options

To upgrade or not to upgrade. That is the question…

The path after Drupal 7 is not a one-size-fits-all process. Here are the options to consider:

1. Go from Drupal 7 to 8 (and eventually to 9) 

Pros

  • If there’s custom code/functionality or specific modules you need for your site (that aren’t ready for D9 yet), that would be a good reason to move directly to D8
  • It’s easier to transition from 7 to 8 and 8 to 9 than 7 to 9. Drupal 9 code will be like a minor version update of Drupal 8, ensuring your website will not break or need monumental custom code. 

Cons

  • Migrating to Drupal 8 could mean you lose out on a lot of the community code modules that made Drupal 7 so great. The community code pool is smaller for D8. But, this is also true for D9.

2. Skip Drupal 8 and wait for Drupal 9

Pros

  • Upgrading straight to Drupal 9 gives you time to secure your budget and get everyone prepared for the migration.
  • The powerful migrate module has many tools to help developers migrate even the most complex Drupal 7 website to Drupal 9.
  • If you’re already considering a website redesign, you can start fresh on Drupal 9, and have time to plan.

Cons

  • It could be costly, depending on the complexity of your site. An upgrade to Drupal 9 from Drupal 7 will require a developer to create a migration; meaning a brand new website needs to be built in Drupal 9 and all content from your current Drupal 7 will be migrated to the new site or rebuilt. 

3. Move to an entirely new CMS

This option only makes sense if you have the current funds to do such an extreme rebuild. But, on the flip side, if your site is very simple (for example, a Blog) that doesn’t require a lot of features or functionality, moving your legacy Drupal 7 to a CMS like WordPress can be a very cost effective solution.

If you’re not ready to decide, there’s no reason to. There are agencies and providers that can keep your D7 website updates and move you to Drupal 7 Long-term Support.

Yes, you’ll have to rebuild eventually. But, by choosing a Support Package, you can take the time you need to make a strategic decision, as well as buy some time to allow funds to free up. 

Kanopi’s Drupal 7 End of Life and Support Package

We at Kanopi are here to help you now…until you’re ready to make the jump.

The great news is when D7 reaches end of life, companies using it will not see any immediate difference from the front-end perspective. And, neither will your site visitors! In the back-end of your Drupal site, the platform and modules will begin to display as “Unsupported”, but everything else will essentially continue to work as it had previously.

By choosing a Kanopi End of Life and Support Package, we patch and maximize the value of your Drupal 7 investment for as long as possible—with the lowest level of financial investment until you are ready to move to D9. 

Why You Should Consider Staying On Drupal 7

  • Thanks to its open source code, Drupal 7 has tons great of modules
  • There’s ample support from other professionals in the D7 community 
  • Drupal 7 community developers have been working on it for a long time (nearly a decade!) so they’re very familiar with the code
  • Drupal 7 is still highly secure

Kanopi’s Drupal 7 End of Life and Support Package

Continuous Improvement Approach

Instead of large structural changes, we work on small incremental changes that support your budget. We work with you to Strategize, Implement, Learn, and Improve.

Our Drupal 7 support includes:

  • Module and plugin upgrades
  • Bug fixes and security patches
  • Development modifications
  • Updating content types/views
  • Third-party integrations
  • CSS/HTML changes
  • Commerce updates
  • Performance enhancements

Website Growth Plan

In addition to keeping your D7 site supported beyond EOL, we also work closely with you to future proof your site. We create a roadmap for exactly how you can increase conversions for your organization using your website

Support and Security

Kanopi currently supports 150+ Drupal 7 domains. We work to keep their sites healthy until they’re ready for an upgrade. 

How Kanopi Has Helped D7 Clients

UCSF Urology

Kanopi was able to build-up resources to make an impactful change to the homepage while modernizing and humanizing the digital presence. This included content strategy, design enhancements, and technical improvements.
Read the full UCSF Urology Case Study

Berkeley I School

We reorganized the way code and files were structured and refactored some of the custom modules so we could take advantage of newer tools in Drupal 7, such as the Database API, Panels, and various caching methods.

Read the full iSchool Case Study 

Mises Institute

We saw an opportunity to improve the homepage and podcast pages as listenership continued to grow rapidly. Working with internal stakeholders, we conducted on-site surveys, google analytics statistics reviews, and heat mapping to create a new look and UX for the homepage and internal pages.
Read the full Mises Case Study.

Corum Group

Corum Group needed updates to their website that would position them as thought leaders in their industry, and improve the UX and design of their site. They needed to retain overall functionality and remain on Drupal 7, while refreshing and fixing the site’s issues.
Read the full Corum Group Case Study. 

We’re here to help with your Drupal 7 End of Life and Support. If you’re ready, reach out and we’ll help you with a plan. 

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