Drupal is an advanced Content Management System (CMS). Like all CMS, the software is frequently updated and altered to ensure it provides an optimised service. If your website is run on Drupal it is important to be aware of the upcoming software changes and developments to ensure your website’s security and functionality are maximised.
There are currently multiple versions of Drupal including Drupal 7, 8, and 9. As Drupal 10 is scheduled to be released and other versions will no longer be supported by Drupal, it is essential to upgrade your website software.
If you are unsure what version your website is currently using then please contact a specialist Drupal agency.
Here is a summarised version of how the new Drupal upgrade impacts its users:
- Drupal 7’s end-of-life is in November 2022 and Drupal 8’s is in November 2021. This means if your website is using either of these versions it will no longer be supported or kept secure so your website will be vulnerable to security issues.
- Any websites run on Drupal 7 or 8 should upgrade to Drupal 9 before the end-of-life is reached on the current software and in preparation for the release of Drupal 10.
- Due to be released in 2022, Drupal 10 will aim to provide modern and optimised website functionality, increase user experience and ensure website security.
- If your website currently uses Drupal 7 the transition is a long process, so it is important to contact your website team and begin to start the transition.
What does End-of-Life mean?
It is extremely important users know their software’s end-of-life date as if they continue to use the software after this time, multiple problems can occur. Both Drupal versions 7 and 8 are coming to their end-of-life soon.
Drupal 7’s end-of-life has been pushed back to the 28th of November 2022. The original end-of-life timeline was September 2021.
Drupal 8’s end-of-life date is earlier than this and is scheduled for November 2021.
When both these versions of Drupal reach their end-of-life, Drupal will stop actively supporting the software.This may mean that websites running on these versions will become less secure and more vulnerable to new security risks, including hacking.
Why do I need to upgrade?
If your website uses either Drupal 7 or 8, you should strongly consider upgrading before they reach their end-of-life.
According to emerge, within only 60 days of the end-of-life period for either version, you should assume that your site has serious vulnerabilities. These may include susceptibility to:
Cyber-attacks on websites can take place in a variety of forms including any attempt to alter or destroy information, or website functions. They can result in private information being taken from your website.
A cyber-attack on your website could lead to personal information about the company, employees, and customers being accessed and taken. This personal information can even include customer’s credit card details so that the hackers can financially gain from the attack. Data breaches obviously put your customer’s details in an extremely vulnerable situation and so it is a huge risk to leave your website open to these security breaches.
This means that the website will not be available online and will not function properly. Therefore, users of the site will not be able to access information or complete tasks. If your business is reliant on your website as a sales outlet or for providing necessary information to people, this can cause issues or even stop essential processes from functioning.
Why does Drupal keep upgrading its platform?
Although it may seem time consuming and unnecessary for Drupal to continually upgrade its software, it is necessary for multiple reasons including:
One of the most important reasons Drupal must continually upgrade is for support and security purposes. According to Drudesk, one of the main goals of the Drupal community is to keep their CMS secure.
Drupal software is reliant on third-party components that have their own end-of-life dates. This means when the third-party software reaches its end-of-life the Drupal versions which use this software will become vulnerable to security issues. This is outside of the Drupal community’s control and makes it necessary that upgrades to the newer and more secure versions of software are implemented.
Drupal is a community generated software and the direction for software improvements is determined solely by this community.
Users are regularly invited to meetings and various forums to provide their feedback on the current software.
For example, the Drupal 10 Readiness Initiative involves running a meeting every two weeks where discussion and feedback can take place within the community.
This ensures that the Drupal software is continually modernised and always using feedback from its users to provide the best experience possible for both the companies,their clients and end-users.
Benefits of Drupal 10
There are multiple benefits of the new Drupal 10 software including:
Drupal 10 will be released on at least Symfony 5 or 6. Symfony is a framework used by Drupal to create its websites and it is necessary that Drupal uses the later versions of Symfony to coincide with the security upgrades.
Drupal.org explains that Drupal 10 includes features to provide:
- An improved layout builder
- Higher flexibility for editing
- Increased media functionality.
Optimised User Experience
Drupal 10 will use CKEditor 5 to replace CKEditor4 to provide more modern editing. Ckeditor.com explains that its newest version includes multiple features which add to the user experience including:
- Better URL handling
- Collaborative editing
- Enhanced site builder
- Highly customisable
- Improved menu
How difficult is it to upgrade Drupal ?
The difficulty in upgrading will completely depend on the version of Drupal you are using.
However, there is enough time to prepare for and to upgrade regardless of whether you are currently using Drupal 7, 8, or 9.
It is essential to speak to an expert before deciding whether to upgrade and which version to upgrade to as the process completely depends on the current version of Drupal your website is using.
For Drupal 7 Users:
The upgrade from Drupal 7 is the most difficult upgrade as the significant changes between the two versions make the upgrade much more complex than from 8 to 9.
If you are currently using Drupal 7 you will need to update to Drupal 9 before Drupal 7 reaches its end-of-life period.
Websites will need to be rebuilt in order to upgrade from Drupal 7, so you should speak to your web developer to see what is necessary for your website to upgrade.
Upgrading from Drupal 7 is a lengthy process. Although the end-of-life date may seem far away, it is best to start the upgrade process now as it can take significant time to update.
For Drupal 8 Users:
If your website uses Drupal 8, you will need to update to Drupal 9 before the Drupal 8 software reaches its end-of-life period and is no longer actively supported.
Fortunately, this upgrade is much easier than upgrading from Drupal 7 and may take less time.
However, Drupal 8 has an earlier end-of-life than Drupal 7, so it is advised that you begin the process soon to ensure your software is upgraded.
For Drupal 9 Users
If you are currently on Drupal 9, the upgrade process will be much easier than for those on earlier versions and there is no rush as Drupal 10 has not been released yet.
If you want to get a headstart, you can start preparing for the upgrade by using Drupal’s Upgrade status on your Drupal 9 site to check your Drupal 10 readiness and see what work is needed before the update.
When should I start the process?
The best time to start the process will depend on the current version of Drupal you are using. If you are using Drupal 7, we would advise you to start the transition sooner rather than later.
You should speak to your website team or a specialist Drupal agency to find out how much needs to be done and when it is advisable to start the process.
We understand that the various software timelines can be confusing and complex. We are more than happy to answer any of your questions about a website upgrade and the necessary timeframes.
If you are unsure about any of the content in this article or don’t know where to start, please do get in touch.