by Elliot Christenson on January 8, 2020 - 11:41pm

According to Drupal.org, Drupal 9 is scheduled to be released on June 3, 2020. It is scheduled to be released alongside a "LTS" minor version of Drupal 8 at the same time. What happens with Drupal 7?

There are three important things to know - and some associated dates:

  • When does community support end?
  • When does extended support end?
  • What should you do?

When does community support end?

Community Support for Drupal 7 is planned for until November 2021

This is a huge deal. Unlike the abrupt cancellation of Drupal 6, this will allow for the million websites running Drupal 7 time to make plans. This is a full year and a half to adopt some sort of a plan.

Security will surely be kept tightly under surveillance by the adept Drupal Security Team. Community support beyond security issues remains to be seen. This is somewhat uncharted territory.

myDropWizard already offers full support for Drupal 7 and Drupal 8 websites, so it might be time to look into one of our Support and Maintenance Plans.

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When does extended support end?

2024 - and beyond!?

Similar to our Drupal 6 Long-Term Support, our Drupal 7 Extended Support will be offered for as long as we have enough clients to keep it viable. The current minimum obligation to the community is through the end of 2024 - an additional 3 full years after community support stops. It is highly likely that we will have support beyond that.

Also: Clients who sign-up for Drupal 7 service in 2020 will retain our Drupal 8 rates into Extended Support!

What should you do?

If you are one of the operators of one or more of the million Drupal 7 websites, you have a few options:

  • Upgrade to Drupal 8 Now
  • Upgrade to Drupal 9 before November 2021
  • Switch Away from Drupal
  • Stay on Drupal 7

Let's talk through each of those briefly.

Upgrade to Drupal 8 Now

You probably already know this is an expensive and time-consuming proposition. Drupal 8 is a completely different piece of software from Drupal 7. Whether your website is large with an upgrade  price tag in the $millions, or your website is small and relatively simple with an upgrade price tag in the $tens of thousands, Drupal 8 upgrades are known to be costly.

It's also questionable how much benefit your users will get in day-to-day use of your website with such an upgrade. Obviously every website is different, but there is clearly a reason why there are still more Drupal 7 websites than Drupal 8 websites.

Finally, while the upgrade path to Drupal 9 from Drupal 8 is promised to be the smoothest yet, you can expect that to be a "non-zero" cost as well.

If you know of certain benefits you'll gain immediately by upgrading to Drupal 8, now may be the time to do this. It might be a good time to give it a second look, at least, to see if it's even a possibility.

As the days pass, this will obviously be the least viable option for most users at this point.

Upgrade to Drupal 9 before November 2021

This might seem surprising, but I actually think an upgrade to Drupal 9 makes more sense than an upgrade to Drupal 7 for most users.

Why would I say that?

Well, clearly, if you haven't upgraded by now, there is some impedement. Cost is always an issue. Time is always an issue. Now that we're jumping up a step, if an upgrade is being evaluated, it might actually make sense to make the jump to Drupal 9.

Every website is different. Maybe the reason you didn't upgrade to Drupal 8 was a critical module that didn't get upgraded from Drupal 7 in the same way you needed. Obviously this might not be improved with Drupal 9, but if you have to eventually change how you're doing things, at least the roadmap is longer.

There are the obvious downsides of the newer platform, however. It's going to be less "real world tested" and some modules may not have made the jump. However, compared to recent past Drupal major version upgrades, this seems to be minimized.

I guess another downside is the potential for cost overruns. Since Drupal 8 has now been around for a few years, you are more likely to hit unexpected issues in your upgrade process that could prove costly and/or time consuming.

If you know you're going to upgrade, now may be the time to start planning on your Drupal 9 upgrade! Upgrades almost always take longer than planned.

If you don't know whether you are going to upgrade, I don't see any huge urgency.

Switch Away from Drupal

I love Drupal, but I'm not oblivious to the rest of the world. There are other options out there that might meet your needs better.

So, what are some of the pros and cons of switching platforms? Well, without going into an exhaustive discussion comparing Drupal to other platforms in 2020 (note to self: this might be a fun thing to do in the future!), there are a few simple things to point out.

Potential Advantages to Switching Platforms

  • Might not be much harder than switching to Drupal 8/9
  • Staff may already be familiar with another platform
  • Finding vendors/developers to assist might be easier

Potential Disadvantages to Switching Platforms

  • Unless you have an extremely simple website, could be more costly or lose features
  • Training costs for staff that have learned Drupal
  • Your current Drupal developer might not be able to help!

If your site is super-simple, it's worth exploring, but let's be honest: if it were that simple to move to a different platform, you probably would have in the time since Drupal 8 came out.

Stay on Drupal 7

Your website (presumably) works. It's probably a critical part of the operations of your organization.

Don't feel shamed into upgrading for the sake of upgrading. There are plenty of people who will talk you into upgrading to Drupal 8, Drupal 9 - or something else altogether. They are probably equally eager to take your thousands of dollars.

The most cost-effective choice for most organizations who have not already upgraded their Drupal 7 website is to get Support and Maintenance "Extended Support" and keep their software working as is for at least the next 5 years.

Contact Us About Your Drupal 7 Website Now!

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