Road at nighttime showing car lights and route ahead from Drupal 7 to Drupal 9

Navigating the upgrade path from Drupal 7 to Drupal 9

Richard Viner - 17 February 2022

Why move to Drupal 9?

Although many organisations are already running version 9 of the Drupal content management system (CMS), which was launched in 2020, plenty more are still on Drupal 7. This version is set to reach end-of-life in November 2022. (Drupal 8 actually got to this point first in November 2021.) 

End-of-life means the platform will no longer be supported by the development community at large. Specifically, for Drupal 7, this means the Drupal security team will no longer provide support or release any security updates for its core or contributed modules. This will result in a dormant open-source code base, increasingly at risk from targeted attacks. While it is true there may be occasional security releases on Drupal 9 which are backported to earlier versions, once Drupal 7 is no longer in support it won’t receive any patched security backports. This will leave it more and more vulnerable to exploits and attacks. 

Patch to protect

With the continuing rise of high-risk security vulnerabilities, it is vital to keep your website patched, protected and secure. Popular open-source CMS, such as Drupal and Wordpress, are primary targets for attack due to the number of organisations that use them and the ready availability of the codebase to the outside world.

At OWA we offer a monthly security protection service ensuring Drupal and Wordpress CMS sites are fully patched and secure. In addition to this, regular checks are performed to assess how severe a security vulnerability is and that it is patched accordingly.

Drupal 7 is set to reach end-of-life in November 2022. 

How simple is the migration path?

Drupal 7 is vastly different to Drupal 9 in terms of functions and architecture. Although the Drupal versions share similar concepts, the code is not compatible in design and requires experienced web developers to perform the migration between the two.

Some key differences come down to core architecture. Drupal 9 is integrated with Symfony – a performance PHP framework based on a high security level. Symfony helps Drupal developers write more advanced programming functions with the use of object-orienting programming, as well as building a faster, more SEO-friendly website. Drupal 9 also uses a newer Twig template engine. Twig vastly improves the PHP-based templating process due to its simple, reusable syntax.

When to start?

Drupal 9 is regarded as a more efficient, faster and future-proof platform than Drupal 7. 

Due to the possible time involved in upgrading your Drupal 7 site, organisations should plan early to avoid the difficult decision about what to do once Drupal 7 reaches its end-of-life. Any time from now onwards is sensible. Drupal 9 is a stable and mature platform that offers many benefits.

At OWA we are a group of highly experienced Drupal developers who have run a number of Drupal 7 migrations. We understand the processes and know exactly what’s involved so if you’re looking to migrate your Drupal 7 site we are here to help.

To note: On 23.02.22 it was announced Drupal 7 end of life would be extended to November 2023. While this news is welcome for the extra time it offers, our recommendation to upgrade to Drupal 9 remains the same.