Drupal has been updated, so there is a newer version available to use, which is Drupal 10. You can choose to remain on Drupal 7 and there isn’t currently anything wrong with being on an older version, however, the most important point to be aware of is this:
The end-of-life date (that is the end of official support given to Drupal 7), for Drupal 7 was originally announced as being November 2021 but this was later extended to November 2023 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Studies suggest that significant numbers of Drupal users are still using earlier versions of Drupal, particularly Drupal 7, however, the number of those migrating to Drupal 9 or 10 is increasing as the end-of-life date approaches. If you have a site that is running on Drupal 7, now is the time to start thinking about and planning your upgrade to Drupal 10.
So, what does End-of-Life mean?
When any major version of Drupal is launched, it is prioritised over any other version, meaning new features and security measures are more inclined to come with the new upgrade. As a consequence, the shelf life of the previous versions gets an expiration date looming over them. This does not mean that those earlier versions cease to exist altogether. It means that after the end of life date, the version it is associated with will stop getting official support, bug fixes and that security patches won’t happen much, if at all, as the focus has shifted to the newer version.
Also, at some point, we at Northbridge Digital will cease to work on Drupal 7 sites, due to this lack of comprehensive security support available from Drupal and the Drupal community.
For more information on what Drupal is, see here: https://northbridgedigital.co.uk/what-is-drupal/
What’s the difference between Drupal 7 and Drupal 9/10?
Drupal 9 was released in June 2020 and has continued the Drupal 8 trajectory which saw over 200 new features added. Drupal 10 is recommended due to it being a major update to a modern content management system.
Drupal 10 was released in December 2022, and comes with many additional new features and security upgrades. This upgrade was the most innovative and user-friendly version of Drupal yet, especially as it provides some neat improvements for site builders and developers. At the time of writing, there are some Drupal modules that aren’t yet fully compatible with Drupal 10. For some of our clients, we are currently updating to Drupal 9 and we will then review an upgrade to Drupal 10 at a later date when all the modules are fully compatible and working well with Drupal 10. Don’t panic though – this doesn’t mean you have to do two big upgrades in quick succession. Migrating from Drupal 7 to Drupal 9/10 requires a rebuild, but going from Drupal 9 to Drupal 10 is more of an upgrade as opposed to a complete rebuild of your site.
Your Drupal 7 site is still working, so why do you need to upgrade now or at all?
Below are some reasons that will help you make your decision.
Drupal 7 will at some point become unsupported by Drupal and the Drupal community.
A More Secure CMS in Drupal 9.
A Content Management System (CMS) is software that helps organizations with creating and modifying their website content. Thousands of Drupal community members are continuously testing the Drupal platform, which keeps it extremely secure and makes it the CMS of choice when it comes to managing large amounts of highly structured data.
A large number of high-profile businesses, as well as many national governments, and NGOs like the UN, have chosen to use Drupal, because of its reputation of being the safest CMS system out there.
Built-in layout tools in Drupal 9.
Drupal’s Layout Builder now allows content editors to easily build and modify pages visually using drag-and-drop, meaning website content editors will now have the ability to manage many layout management needs themselves without relying on developers. This unique tool caters to layouts for templated content and customisation of templated layouts.
More effective mobile responsiveness in Drupal 9.
Being mobile responsive is highly important for user experience and accessibility. With Drupal 9, each view has been thoughtfully designed to keep mobile accessibility in mind.
Built-in HTML5 support in Drupal 9.
Drupal 9 now leverages HTML5 to provide additional support for libraries, accessibility enhancements, and enhanced base themes. For example, the simpler HTML5 base theme allows users to develop a single-page website quicker as it provides a cleaner and simplified code and file structure.
Website performance refers to how quickly a website loads on a web browser, as well as the quality of the website’s usability, interactivity, and reliability. Website performance really is key to an organisation’s success. Nobody enjoys a website that is slow to load, and websites with better performance have improved SEO, conversion rates and provide an overall better user experience. Drupal 10 comes with enhanced performance results, which can be seen with the newer and quicker CMS release. Additional key contributors to improved performance in Drupal 9 are the upgrades in Symfony and Twig. Twig is the new theme engine, which is 15% faster than the one used in Drupal 8.
Built-in media library.
The new Drupal 10 Media Library is a media management tool that enables users to easily upload, search, and insert documents, videos, and images to your site. Media types that are available to import are as follows:
• File: txt, doc, docx, pdf, xlsx, zip
• Image: png, gif, jpg, jpeg
• Video File: can be imported from YouTube or Vimeo
The enhanced media library makes it much easier to find existing media items, which is especially useful and time-saving for websites that have a large amount of content.
Better user experience all-round.
With Drupal 10, there have been many improvements made to the overall user experience. For example, one focus has been to improve user experience for first-time admin users, which will make it easier for first time users to experience Drupal in a context that is applicable to them. The Drupal admin theme has been inspired by Material Design, which was created by Google. Material Design improves the user experience, as it standardizes everything and makes content more accessible.
A final message from Northbridge Digital.
An upgrade from Drupal 7 to 10 is a significant undertaking and will require time, resources and expertise to make it happen whilst enabling your existing CiviCRM activity to continue.
Upgrading to Drupal 10 from your current Drupal 7 site will help to future-proof your website and provide the necessary standards of security that you and we both expect. Northbridge Digital has extensive experience and knowledge of working with Drupal-based systems and associated CiviCRMs for more than over 10 years. We have already managed the move from Drupal 7 for numerous CiviCRM clients and are in the process of actively contacting other existing clients to discuss and plan this process with them. For an informal discussion about your site and a move to Drupal 10, please get in touch.