5 Most Common Worries With a Drupal 8 Upgrade

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Are you worried about upgrading to Drupal 8?

Moreover, are you worried about how to go about the project and make sure it's a success?

Lots of my clients have asked me about this recently and were initially worried about the prospect of upgrading.

5 common questions we've received from them are:

  1. How best to do it?
  2. Will all the modules on their current site be available on Drupal 8?
  3. How much will it cost?
  4. When should they start the project?
  5. Will it be better to migrate from Drupal 7 to Drupal 8 or Drupal 7 to Drupal 9?

So I finally caved and decided to create some articles that give you answers to all your questions, the exact process you should go through and show you how we've helped clients make this project as smooth and easy as possible for them.

I’ll start with these main 5 questions that seem to be cropping up time after time;

How best to do it?

I’ve recently created a guide of considerations before you tackle the project including a helpful checklist. 

This checklist takes you from realising ‘why’ you’re upgrading through to the features you require for your future website and to your agency due diligence. 

People in a planning meeting, they look interested

Will all the modules on my current site be available on Drupal 8?

There’s now a cool module available called ‘Upgrade Status’ that allows you to run a check and see the status of all your modules, whether there is a version in Drupal 8 already available or if it’s perhaps still being worked on.

These are listed as:

  • Available
  • In development: A development release is available, which can be installed but for testing purposes only.
  • Not ported yet: There are no releases available yet
  • Replaced by: A list of other modules that have superseded this one.

If it’s not available yet, don’t worry as Drupal 8 is composer based so we can use third party libraries and build modules around them. Symfony components being one of them, but we can use many more.

Drupal 8 Modules Status

How much will it cost?

Each website is costed on a case-by-case basis and therefore it’s difficult to put a definitive cost on a bespoke project. There are many factors to consider that will alter the cost of such a project including:

  • size of website 
  • functionality that needs replicating
  • Number of pages & templates
  • Number of modules on your site and how many of these are available on D8
  • Areas in need of improving
  • Designs and templates needed
  • 3rd party integrations eg CRMs

As an example, most upgrade projects that we work on generally range from around £20,000 to £150,000 though this is not a finite range.

When should we start the project?

The short answer is as soon as possible. 

Drupal update roadmap

To be a success, projects such as these need time to be correctly planned before any code has been written. 

The first stage usually occurs internally with your team, planning your future website purpose and goals.
You’re probably very busy with your existing daily duties and will have to fit this around other important activities such as marketing, so it’s important to start early and schedule the time in your calendar.

Once these have been agreed, a specification will need producing of what is required from the new website including any improvements you’d like to make. Before any coding can begin, you’ll need to choose an agency; one that understands your business needs and you are able to comfortably work with. 

At this point, the upgrade to Drupal 8 can begin in addition to any improvements you have specified from your planning phase. This will end with a testing and review phase before launch to ensure the website meets the specification and that all modules have been successfully migrated.

Ongoing support is a highly recommended option which reduces security risks and the likelihood of website downtime. The agency you choose for the build may not offer this service of ongoing support so you might need to interview different agencies for this. You’ll want the support in place for when the new site goes live.

Migrate from Drupal 7 to Drupal 8 or wait and upgrade to Drupal 9?

Migrating from Drupal 7 to Drupal 8 is the most logical step as this will bring everything in line. Drupal 8 has been around for a few years and therefore is a tried and tested platform to migrate your website to. 

Drupal 9 is currently set for release in June 2020 and  will leave you with around a year between the release and Drupal 7’s end of life deadline - at which point official security updates will cease.

As Drupal 9 is essentially an extension to Drupal 8, when the time comes, the transition from 8 to 9 will be far more seamless and cost effective than any previous Drupal migration providing your modules have been kept up to date. In addition to this, upgrading to Drupal 8 first will allow you to leverage some great new features including a better editorial experience.

If you are one of the more than a million sites successfully running on Drupal 7, you might only have one more big upgrade ahead of you.
Dries Buytaert
Dries Buytaert
Founder - Drupal

Your next steps...

If, like Dries Buytaert says, you are one of the more than a million sites still running Drupal 7, remember you may only have one more major upgrade ahead of you. Now is the time to start thinking about your next steps and planning to migrate and upgrade your site before the deadline. Choosing the right agency, who follows Drupal best practice, will ensure that major upgrades to a newer version of Drupal are a thing of the past.

Follow the simple steps in our guide to upgrading to Drupal 8 including the helpful upgrade checklist to ensure your project runs smoothly without a hitch right from the start.

Planned your website Utopia?

We’d love to hear about where you’d like to take your business website next and where we could join you on your journey to reach Utopia.


Dan Pala

Dan P

Digital Strategy Director

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