Drupal Updates 2021

Art Williams
Art WilliamsPrincipal / Chief Information Officer
Blue comic book inspired screen with Drupal logo and blog title

It is a significant time in the life of a Drupal website. End-of-life (EOL) for Drupal 8 (D8) was November 2021 and Drupal 7 (D7) will reach EOL in November 2023. If you are wondering why Drupal 8 would end prior to Drupal 7, that’s a fair question. But before we look into the answer, it’s important to understand what End-Of-Life means.  

What does End-Of-Life mean for software?

Simply put, after EOL there is no more official support for that version of the software.  

  • The Drupal Security Team won’t be looking for vulnerabilities
  • No more security updates if vulnerabilities are found 
  • The open-source Drupal community is not expected to maintain the software or its add-on modules

It does NOT, however, mean that the software will stop working. There is an unknown period of time after EOL where the software works fine and has no new vulnerabilities. This could last for  days, weeks, even months. So while it’s important to be aware of the date, there is still time to respond.

Drupal 7 & Drupal 8 Backwards EOL Dates

Now we return to the question about the timing of D7 & D8 EOL.  

D8 was a major rewrite of Drupal, which introduced a new concept of Continuous Innovation to the software. As new features were added to D8 over the years, the older code was phased out slowly instead of being immediately removed. This process, called deprecating code, maintains backward compatibility making for a smoother upgrade path. Deprecated code is only fully removed during a major version release.  

Therefore, the final version of Drupal 8 is almost identical to the first version of Drupal 9 except for the removal of all the deprecated (phased out) code. This results in the upgrade from D8 to D9 being only slightly more complex than a normal monthly security update.

Drupal 7 does not have this benefit. Every version of Drupal prior to Drupal 8 always needed a complete rebuild of the site to move from one major version to the next. There were some migration paths for moving content between sites, but all of the functionality and theming required starting over from scratch each time. This is why D7 has been given an extended grace period before it reaches EOL.

What About Your Drupal Site?

Now you may be wondering about the state of your own Drupal site and what version you have.  You can log on to your site and look at your Status Report page (/admin/reports/status) to see what version you have, then reach out to your developers to see what your options are. If you need some help along the way, feel free to reach out to our team.

A screenshot showing which drupal version is running

Texas Creative D8/9 Clients

For clients of Texas Creative, if your site was built after 2016, it was built on Drupal 8 or 9.  If your Drupal 8 site is hosted by Texas Creative, then your CMS Security Maintenance plan covers the upgrade to Drupal 9. In fact, we have already completed this upgrade on all of our clients' Drupal 8 sites.

Other Texas Creative Clients

However, if your site is older than 5 years or you are not hosting your Drupal 7 or Drupal 8 site with Texas Creative, then feel free to reach out. We can help you determine the best course of action concerning upgrading your site. Sites still on Drupal 7 have plenty of time to rebuild on more current software, but now is the time to start thinking about the process.

Extended Commercial Support

One final note - There will be an option for paid commercial support for D7 beyond the EOL. This support is no longer provided by the open-source community of Drupal developers, but instead will be offered by a handful of commercial support companies vetted by the Drupal Association. We can offer this service to anyone who wants to hang on to their D7 sites a bit longer at an additional ongoing cost. The specific rates and offerings have not been finalized by those support companies yet, but let us know if you are interested and we can provide information as soon as it’s available.