by Elliot Christenson on June 4, 2020 - 1:03am

The Top Five Reasons Why You Should Stick With Drupal 7 in 2020 and Beyond.

Drupal 9 was launched yesterday! There will be no shortage of buzz about how you can get your site upgraded and ready for Drupal 9. Obviously, it's the best Drupal ever, and it's positioned well for the future. However, are you well positioned for the future?

None of us need to be reminded that the first half of 2020 has seen many worldwide disruptions to our way of life. Millions of people have lost their jobs. So, if you're one of the thousands of organizations that utilizes Drupal 7 in a mission critical fashion, 2020 or 2021 might be a tough sell to get that update to Drupal 9 done! Let's together look at 5 reasons why you don't need to hurry that process.

5. 700,000 Drupal 7 Sites Can't Be Wrong

Drupal 7 is the most popular version of Drupal. Ever. That ecosystem isn't going to dry up in a few brief months. With the explosion of YouTube videos detailing "classic nostalgia computing projects", I think it's very clear that when something is useful, and it has passionate users, it never really goes away. Drupal 7 isn't software from the 1980's however. The developer community is still fresh, and there are thousands of themes, modules, and best practices on how to imlpement them cost-effectively.

4. Community Support Until December 2021

Due to the recognition of this popularity, Drupal 7 is going to be maintained and updated for security by the community through the end of 2021. That already gives you 18 months to not worry about an expensive migration to Drupal 9 (or WordPress or SquareSpace or that custom React site that everyone thinks they want!). If you decide against it, there are thousands of developers with experience in Drupal 7. Getting help for the more established system is not something to dismiss!

3. Hurrying is Expensive

There is this tendency among programmers and "techies" to always be on the cutting edge of what's new. However, the rest of the world doesn't work that way: ever. Times are certainly not pointing towards a willingness to update soon. It took several years and thousands and thousands of developer hours to get Drupal 7 to where it is today.  Maybe Drupal 9 will be there in a few years - maybe it won't. I'm a Drupal believer, but if the past six months has taught me anything it is to be ready for any outcome.

Upgrades always boil down to money. If you have a small/simple website, but you are a small, resource strapped organization, then you probably can't afford a massive upgrade this year. The $10,000+ development project to move to a shiny new Drupal 9 site is much better spent on Drupal 7 SEO, mobile optimizations, or marketing. While the numbers will likely be larger for larger organizations, the same realities could hold true.

That's if you even have the budget.

2. Drupal 7 is Lightweight and Works

Your current website isn't broken is it? If you're not eager to replace some difficiency, why upgrade?

This will depend on your usage case, but computing resources always get cheaper and faster over time. Not only might you not be in a position to SPEND money, you might need to find some ways to cut your budget. If you haven't revisited your hosting budget over the past decade, you might be able to host your Drupal 7 on much lower cost services than before. This is also typically true in comparison to Drupal 8 or 9 which are going to generally utilize the same or more resources.

You probably made a huge investment in your awesome Drupal 7 website. Leverage that investment!

1. Upgrades Always Take Longer and Cost More Than Expected

I think all of these points are common sense. This one probably most of all - but we all quickly forget it. Again, this doesn't apply to the simplest of websites - or websites that exactly fit into a role perfectly filled by Drupal 9! Thousands of website owners might be able to move to Drupal 9 at little cost. Even if that's a majority, that still leaves hundreds of thousands of Drupalers with tough decisions when those development estimates come in. Drupal 7 is the most popular version of Drupal. We in the Drupal world don't fall for popularity arguments, or we'd all be running WordPress, so I'm not going to convince anyone that Drupal 7 is better than Drupal 9.

I don't think it needs to be. The used car that can still get another 50,000 miles out of it can still provide excellent value against the shiniest best-valued new car. Especially if you already own that used car. :)

Final Thoughts

I was told writing about something like this might bring some controversy. I don't see it. We have a community of hundreds of thousands of websites running Drupal 7, and we can't expect them to all adopt Drupal 9. Most average users won't even hit the software update button on their laptop or smartphone! Those are free and typically painless.

I work with many nonprofits as a volunteer. Where it makes sense, new projects might start on Drupal 9, but legacy websites that have been working for years? How can I justify the time or budget when the time and budget is much better spent on theming or SEO?

Drupal 7 is great software with a rich ecosystem and history.

Drupal 8 is great software with super-easy upgrades.

Drupal 9 is hopefully the greatest  software of all-time with a promising future that will leave Drupal 7 in the dust.

UntilI then I intend to keep evangalizing for all the Drupals everywhere that they make sense!

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I agree - I recently tried drupal 8 - one really really big issue is media management. So many requirements have been addressed it is completely confusing. So, confusing, I could not easily figure it out and did not want to put that on my content producers.