Our Journey To Drupal 8

Post by Mike C Picture of Mike C
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Our company site has usually been the testing ground for a new Drupal CMS update, starting as far back as 2004 with Drupal 4.5. As Drupal 7 launched we missed the window of opportunity to migrate our site and became caught up in the inevitable day to day client work throughout the life of Drupal 7.

The site sat on Drupal 6 - servicing us well for the day to day requirements - right up to and then past the end of life for Drupal 6. We knew moving to Drupal 8 made total sense, and our brochureware site didn't require a huge library of contrib modules to hold us back - but why did it take us so long to launch anything?

Drupal 8.0 launched on November 19th 2015 - to much fanfare and partying in the community. It worked as far as installing as a fresh site and configuring with the tried and tested point and click user interface.

As we started digging deeper in early 2016 we found that a lot of the behind the scenes bits we liked to use in our development and hosting workflows were lacking - the CMI & features, content moderation, drush, Panels. In the contrib area there seemed to be a lot of activity around re-writing modules, forking modules, lots of grand ideas, disagreements but no time to implement them all. Finding some beta code on Github vs Drupal.org was also adding to the time & effort to track things.

We weren't in a rush to be first out with a Drupal 8 powered site - and didn't want to end up with an unmaintainable Drupal 8 alpha/beta site and suite of modules which had no upgrade paths. We'd never want to give that to a client, and we were treating the Ixis site build as a client project.

So we went back underground and left Drupal 8 for a few more months whilst getting on with client work again.

In early summer we began constructing a prototype of the site by migrating our existing content over in to mirrors of the Drupal 6 content types and keeping things as simple as possible. With the content in place it allowed us to build some Views for displaying content and playing with the concept of landing pages for each of our services.

We built an initial rough theme based on an in-house design to get a feel for the Twig functionality and building the custom landing pages. As the Panels suit of modules was still a moving target consisting of numerous patches to make it stable we dismissed it and went to town with the Paragraphs system and a number of custom types to fit our needs.

To commemorate the new site launch we've worked on a series of blog posts covering some of the elements we worked on during the site build. We'll be publishing them over the coming weeks.

  1. Migration of content from Drupal 6 to 8
  2. Taming content with Paragraphs
  3. Handling media
  4. Social media cards
  5. The wonders of Twig theming
  6. Bringing pages to life with animation

Mike C

Managing Director

17 years of Drupal development wrangling and a background in digital project architecture.

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