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Planning the Migration from Drupal 7 to 10: A Practical Guide for Entrepreneurs

Planning the Migration from Drupal 7 to 10: A Practical Guide for Entrepreneurs

If you are still on Drupal 7, it is crucial to think about migrating to Drupal 9 or even Drupal 10. Indeed, the end of official support for Drupal 7 is imminent. This transition seems daunting, especially since Drupal's architecture has undergone significant changes starting with version 8. However, with proper planning, the migration can go smoothly and bring many benefits. Here is a step-by-step guide to help you navigate this process.

In this article, we will see together how to do the migration. We will see what this entails if you are on version 7 and then we will talk about the stages of version 8 or 9. Before we begin, we will see the possible consequences of a solution which reaches its end of life.

What does software end of life mean?

In the software industry, “End-of-Life” (EOL) refers to the phase in the life cycle of software under which support for that software is no longer provided by the publisher. or the developer. This ending may concern…

  • technical assistance,
  • security updates,
  • bug fixes,
  • and functional updates.

The end of life of software is often announced in advance. This gives users time to prepare and execute their migration plan to a newer version or different software.

What will happen to Drupal?

For Drupal , end of life means that the Drupal community and the organization itself stop providing official support for these releases. For example, Drupal 7 and 9 will reach their end of life in November 2023. After this date, there will be no more official security updates. Therefore, sites that continue to use these versions could be at risk.

For Drupal 7 or 9 users, it is recommended to upgrade to a newer version of Drupal, such as Drupal 10, to still receive support and updates. Migration can be a complex process, requiring careful planning and careful execution to ensure the website continues to function properly during and after the transition.

What is involved in migrating from Drupal 7 to 10

In the context of Drupal, migration usually refers to the process of moving data and configuration from one version of Drupal to another. This may include items such as

  • content types,
  • the users,
  • the files,
  • images,
  • and others.

Migration complexity may vary depending on site size, number of custom modules, third-party integrations, and other factors.

Important to note

Additionally, while migrating from Drupal 7 to 10, it is crucial to note that there might be crucial changes in the system architecture, available modules, and user interface. This might require a site redesign, custom code rewriting, user training on the new interface, among other tasks.

In the following sections of this article, we will explore in more detail the steps required to migrate from Drupal 7 to Drupal 10.

Understanding the key differences between Drupal 7 and Drupal 9

Before you begin the migration, it is important to understand the main differences between the versions. Drupal 9 is built on Drupal 8, using Symfony and Twig as its core technologies. Which is a notable change from the primarily procedural structure of Drupal 7. Drupal 9 also offers better:

  • accessibility,
  • security,
  • and optimization for mobile,
  • in addition to supporting modern web development technologies.

Prepare your site for migration

Here are some things you need to consider if you want to succeed with your migration.

  • First, do the Audit of your current site. This will involve identifying the modules you are using. Review the content and structure of the site, and determine custom features.
  • Next, update modules. Some Drupal 7 modules have versions for Drupal 8/9 or 10. However, others may not be necessary due to new features integrated into the Drupal 10 core. You should therefore make an evaluation in order to choose better .
  • Subsequently, Save a copy of your site. Before proceeding with any migration, make sure to backup your Drupal 7 site.

How to migrate from Drupal 7 to 10?

Migrating from Drupal 7 to 10 without web development expertise seems like a daunting task. However, with the right approach and appropriate tools, it is possible. Here are the general steps to follow, without going into technical details:

Needs assessment

Identify what your business needs. It's important to evaluate your current website and determine what aspects of your site need to be preserved, what aspects can be improved, and what new elements you might want to add.

Choosing the right version of Drupal

You can choose between Drupal 8, 9, or 10. Each has its advantages and disadvantages. Drupal 8 is a significant upgrade over Drupal 7 with many new features, but it is already at end of life. As for Drupal 9, it is a newer and more stable version, but as you mentioned, it will reach its end of life in November 2023. Drupal 10 is the newest version, offers the most advanced features, however may present incompatibilities with some older modules.

Planning the migration from Drupal 7 to 10

Prepare a migration plan that includes

  • delays,
  • the resources required
  • and the people concerned.

Also identify what data and site functionality needs to be migrated.

Finding the right development partner

If you do not have in-house web development expertise, it would be beneficial to work with an agency or freelance developer who has proven experience in Drupal migration. They can help you complete the migration efficiently and error-free.

Migration and testing

Once the site has been migrated, it should be thoroughly tested to ensure it is working properly. Make sure all site functionality is intact and all data has been transferred correctly.

Training

Familiarize yourself and train your staff on the new Drupal interface and its features. This could take time and resources, but it is an important step to ensure a smooth transition.

Maintenance and support

Once the migration is complete, it will be crucial to have a maintenance and support plan in place. This includes security updates, functional updates, and troubleshooting any issues that may arise.

The benefits of migrating from Drupal 7 to a newer version include:

  • access to new features,
  • better security,
  • improved performance,
  • and ongoing support.

The downside is that it can be time consuming and require financial resources. Additionally, depending on the complexity of your site, there could be incompatibility issues that require time and expertise to resolve.

The different migration options from Drupal 7 to 10

To migrate your website, we have considered three scenarios. You will choose the option that best fits your situation.

Option 1 – Do it with your internal team

Implications and how to proceed : If your company has an in-house team with expertise in Drupal, this may be a viable option. This would involve:

  • initially spend time planning the migration. You should also consider training on the new features of Drupal 10. Indeed, as we mentioned, Drupal 7 differs significantly from Drupal 10.
  • Allow time for actual migration and subsequent testing.

It would also be necessary to allow time for troubleshooting potential issues and for continued learning as Drupal continues to evolve.

Advantages : Migrating in-house can provide greater control over the process and timelines, as well as deeper knowledge of the site and how it works. It can also be less expensive if the required expertise is already available in-house.

Cons : This can be a long and complex process, especially if the team doesn't already have extensive experience with Drupal migrations. Additionally, it could divert internal resources from other projects or responsibilities.

Use the Drupal Migration Tool

Drupal 8 and 9/10 offer a built-in migration system that makes it easy to transition data from Drupal 7. This tool supports the migration of content types, users, taxonomies, and more. It is recommended to test the migration on a development environment before deploying it to production.

Option 2 – Choosing a Freelancer

Implications and how to do it : Hiring a freelancer who specializes in Drupal could be another option. This would involve

  • find a freelancer with proven experience in Drupal migrations,
  • discuss and agree on timelines, costs and expectations specific to your project.

Advantages : This can be less expensive than an agency and gives you the opportunity to choose an expert specifically suited to your needs. You may also have a closer, more direct working relationship with the freelancer.

Cons : It can be difficult to find a reliable, highly qualified freelancer. Additionally, a freelancer's ability to manage a large project or deal with unexpected issues may be limited compared to an in-house team or agency.

Option 3 – Work with experts or an agency

Implications and how to proceed : Hiring an agency specializing in Drupal can be a good option. Indeed, if you want to ensure that the migration goes well and if you prefer to leave the technical details to experts. This involves

  • search for and choose an agency,
  • discuss project details, timelines and costs, and
  • provide them with information about your site.

Advantages : An agency can offer a team of experts, proven migration experience, and the willingness to manage complex or large-scale projects. They can also offer additional services such as training, support and maintenance after migration.

Cons : Agencies can be more expensive than in-house options or freelancers. Additionally, you might have less control over the process. Therefore, you must trust the agency to make the right technical decisions. Furthermore, there may be difficulties in communication or mutual understanding of objectives and expectations. This is accentuated if the agency is not local or if it works on several projects.

What are the big differences between Drupal 7 and 8 (10)?

The migration from Drupal 7 to Drupal 8 (and later to 9 and 10) represents a big step forward in terms of

  • features,
  • flexibilities and
  • user experience.

However, this transition also involves big changes in the way Drupal is built and used. Below are some major differences.

1. Architecture and object-oriented approach

Drupal 8 adopted an object-oriented architecture and integrated the Symfony framework. This marks a significant departure from the procedural approach used in Drupal 7.

Indeed, you have greater flexibility. And, what's more, it allows you better integration with other PHP technologies.

2. Setup

Drupal 8 introduces a new configuration management system that makes it easier to transfer configuration between different environments (development, test, production).

In contrast, Drupal 7 relies on the database to manage configuration. Therefore, deployment seems more difficult.

3. Content Models (Twig)

Drupal 8 replaced the PHPtemplate theme engine with Twig. It is a modern, flexible and secure templating engine. Twig makes theme code more readable, more secure, and more accessible to front-end designers.

4. Multilingualism

Drupal 8 has greatly improved support for multilingualism compared to Drupal 7. It allows for easier and more complete translation of content, configurations and user interfaces.

5. Online edition

Drupal 8 offers a more modern and user-friendly online editing experience. In particular, you will find in-place editing which allows you to modify the content directly from the display page, without having to use a separate editing form.

6. RESTful APIs

Drupal 8 was designed to be "API-first", meaning it is simple to build applications that communicate with Drupal via RESTful APIs. This makes it easier to integrate with other systems and create "headless " or "decoupled" Drupal applications.

7. Modules

Drupal 8 includes several important modules that were previously separate contributed modules in Drupal 7, such as Views, CKEditor, and Entity Reference.

However, it is crucial to note that not all Drupal 7 modules are available or required in Drupal 8. This is because the architecture and new built-in features are completely different.

Conclusion

Migrating from Drupal 7 to Drupal 10 represents a major challenge. However, it is a significant opportunity to improve and modernize your website. Whether you choose to carry out the migration in-house, hire a freelancer or work with a specialist agency, the important thing is to understand your needs, your resources and the implications of each option!

It's also crucial to recognize that migrating from Drupal 7 to 10 is not simply an upgrade. It's a complete overhaul that requires careful planning and preparation. But, with the right approach and support, this transition can allow you to take full advantage of the features, flexibility, and power of Drupal 10 to deliver a great online experience for your users.

Do you want to work with professionals?

Finally, it is important not to delay planning and beginning this transition, especially with Drupal 7's end of life quickly approaching. The future of your website starts today. Contact us if you require assistance.