Arlina Espinoza Senior Technical Lead
June 23, 2023

This month at DrupalCon Pittsburgh, the Drupal Association announced what many of us were expecting: that end-of-life for Drupal 7 was being extended yet again – this time to January 5, 2025.  This time, according to the association, there will be no exceptions and no further extensions. This time it’s real.

The announcement was hardly a surprise. A full half of all Drupal sites still run on D7 as of June 2023, while a third operate on D9, and less than one percent have jumped to D10. Drupal 9 will cease to be supported when Symfony 4 reaches its end of life in November 2023, making D7 a long-running anomaly, persisting 14 years after it was first introduced in 2011.

There’s a reason why website owners have been so slow to move on from D7. The wholesale rewrite of the codebase that occurred between D7 and D8 means that advancement to any newer version of Drupal requires a wholesale migration rather than a simple upgrade.

But now there’s plenty of time before you need to schedule that inevitable migration, right? Not so much.

Why you need to migrate now
For one, depending on how complex your site is, migration can be a pretty time-consuming process. Content migration alone can take months or even over a year for some government and enterprise sites without factoring in any redesign or content overhaul you might want. Migration is a big deal, and as such, it’s an opportunity to rethink all aspects of your site, and this entire process can take well over a year.

Also, just because Drupal 7 will be supported until January 2025 doesn’t mean all its bits and pieces will be – in fact some D7 modules are already no longer supported. Furthermore, as of August 1 of this year, support for moderately critical and lower severity security issues will be significantly reduced, with security releases only being provided in cases of severe issues. Also, if you host your D7 site on Windows, you will be unsupported as of August 1.  

If you’re still operating on Drupal 7, you can expect less and less support as time goes on.

But even if all goes well and there are no bugs that need fixing and no modules that need updating, maintaining a Drupal 7 site means you’re effectively frozen in time. It makes little sense to invest time and money into an obsolete CMS when you’re just going to have to rebuild everything on a new platform, so staying put means pressing pause on any new features or design elements you might want.

To sum up, if you’re still using Drupal 7, the time to start planning your migration is now. While technically, you’ve got a year and a half to do it, D7 is already effectively obsolete. If you care about your site performing well, it’s time to move on.
What Drupal 10 offers

Drupal 10 is, in essence, an enhanced version of Drupal 9. Its media library is the same as D9, and the APIs haven’t changed much. D10 features a new version of PHP (8.1) and a new underlying technology stack (Symfony 6.2). It uses modern JavaScript components, replacing some uses of jQuery UI and jQuery, and a new version of Twig (3.x), which is touted as a faster, more secure, and more flexible PHP template engine.

For content creators, the key changes are the introduction of CKEditor 5 as the sole WYSIWYG editor and introducing a new back-end theme (Claro) and front-end theme (Olivero). CKEditor 5 allows for more flexible content editing with track changes, comments, revision history, real-time collaboration, and import from Word without the markup. Olivero is WCAG AA-compliant, out of the box, and a step forward regarding accessibility.

A much-touted feature that is expected to become available in versions 10.1 or 10.2 is automatic updates. Once introduced, Drupal will send notifications to alert users when updates have been completed and information on any further steps that are required. Automatic updates are already available as a module (this may not work in certain hosting environments) and can be expected as a Core feature in the coming months.

D10 and decoupling with Next-Drupal
Thinking about going headless for greater speed, scalability, and security? Since D8, Drupal has been a dependable CMS for decoupled configurations thanks to its support for REST, JSON:API, and GraphQL APIs. D10 makes decoupling even easier by adding read-only menus for Drupal HTTP APIs, making it easier for front-end developers to consume menu data to build navigation systems.

Chapter Three’s decoupled front-end framework Next-Drupal is now fully updated for Drupal 10, with all deprecated code and APIs having been removed. We have also updated Next-Drupal and the JSON:API and GraphQL starters to Next.js 13. Demand for this platform is growing, with it currently being downloaded thousands of times a week.

Contact us if you have a Drupal 7 site you want to upgrade.