Drupal 8 for Drupal 7 site owners

Drupal 8 upgrade information

The Drupal 8 GA release has absolutely no impact on websites that are still running Drupal 7. There's no need to immediately migrate your websites to Drupal 8, and there are no current plans for a Drupal 7 end-of-life by either Acquia or the Drupal community.

However, based on our experience with what happened with Drupal 6 after Drupal 7's release, development on Drupal 7 will probably slow down considerably after the Drupal 8 release. It's worth discussing how Drupal 7 will exist in the development landscape, as well as what options you may have if you decide to update your websites to Drupal 8.

Drupal 7 maintenance

How the Drupal and general communities plan on maintaining different code sets can affect your continued Drupal 7 usage plans, and include the following major areas:

  • Code and Security Vulnerabilities

    With no end-of-life in sight for Drupal 7, security releases and bug-fix updates will continue to be made available for the foreseeable future.

  • PHP support

    Drupal 7 is compatible out-of-the-box with PHP 5.6, which will not reach end of life until at least 2017. It is the latest version available on Acquia Cloud. New releases of PHP will likely result in patches to Drupal 7 Core and popular contributed modules that will extend the lifespan of Drupal 7 projects well into the foreseeable future.

  • Module updates

    Although module maintainers will likely continue to update their Drupal 7-based modules, with the arrival of Drupal 8, many maintainers may shift their focus primarily to this new Drupal version. Because of this, in some cases you may experience slower or stalled changes to Drupal 7 modules moving forward.

Migrating to Drupal 8

There is no immediate need to upgrade your Drupal 7 website to Drupal 8. The only situations in which you would need to migrate or rebuild your website using Drupal 8 is to either take advantage of the shift in community focus to Drupal 8-related modules and initiatives, or if to gain access to the functionality that comes out-of-the-box with Drupal 8 that would otherwise need to be backported to Drupal 7.

There are several other potential reasons to migrate to Drupal 8, along with things to watch for, which are described in this section.

Expenses

The choice to move ahead with a Drupal 8 migration depends on the value that Drupal 8 offers, weighed against the expenses in terms of development time and migration-related issues.

In many instances, a great deal of time and money have already been invested in building and customizing a Drupal 7 site to fit different needs that have arisen. A migration to Drupal 8 may require a conversion or rebuild of existing themes and code. With Drupal 8 being so different in many ways from Drupal 7, the conversion of code will, in many cases, not be as simple as they would be if the code was being converted from Drupal 6 to Drupal 7. That is why some teams may choose to build a new site from scratch with Drupal 8.

Early updates to Drupal 8 are likely to come more quickly than they will for Drupal 7, so Drupal 8 site maintainers must be prepared to factor routine code updates into their development cycles.

Drupal 8 has a significantly different framework than Drupal 7. Experienced Drupalists will need to adapt to the new architecture, and it may not be as easy to migrate code from Drupal 6/Drupal 7 to Drupal 8 as it is to migrate code from 6 to 7. However, Drupal 8’s architecture will seem less alien to many non-Drupal developers who are used to working with frameworks like Symfony or PHP template engines like Twig.

Migration paths

Drupal 8 core already includes Drupal 8 migration paths that you can use for your Drupal 6 and Drupal 7 websites.

Unfortunately, many modules have not yet been ported to Drupal 8 from Drupal 7, so there are fewer options to choose from, and popular modules will either need to be migrated by their existing maintainers or through targeted community migration efforts sponsored by companies and organizations which need Drupal 8 versions. Acquia is currently working to track progress on those initiatives for many of the most common Drupal 7 modules.

Modules in Drupal 8

A number of popular Drupal contributed modules, like Views, are now part of Drupal core, enabling many users to begin performing initial evaluations. Many modules and themes were also removed from Drupal core.

The Migrate API has been ported into Drupal 8 core. The API is flexible and extensible, and can perform complex migrations of content from WordPress, XML, CSV, and Drupal. The Drupal 7 Migrate module's UI and extras are currently in Migrate Plus. The maintainers of Migrate Plus are focusing on implementing a UI and Drush commands for Drupal 8 migration.

A new module called Migrate Drupal is also in core, and uses the Migrate API to provide upgrade paths from Drupal 6 and 7. New Drupal 8 users will use this module to move their old content and configuration into Drupal 8. Migrate Drupal contains a migration path for Drupal 6 to Drupal 8, but doesn’t yet have a complete upgrade path from Drupal 7 to Drupal 8.

Contributing to the Drupal 7-to-8 migration

Drupal users who want to contribute to the Drupal 7 migration can start by reading the Drupal 7 to Drupal 8 Migration path meta-issue on drupal.org. It divides the Drupal 7 upgrade path by module, and organizes tasks by priority. Less experienced Drupal users should start with lower-priority tasks. For example, migrating variables to configuration is one of the easiest kind of migrations to write. The IRC channel #drupal-migrate is also dedicated to Drupal migration issues.

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