Are You Suffering from Drupal Upgrade Fatigue?
We’re hearing it these days from many of our support clients:
Drupal did not always move so fast. The two and a half years between the release of Drupal 10 in December of 2022, and the release of Drupal 9 in June of 2020 is in sharp contrast to the four and a half years between the release of Drupal 8 and 9, and the nearly five years between the release of Drupal 7 and 8.
The primary issue driving what feels like an accelerated timeframe for the recent Drupal 10 release is Drupal’s current Symfony dependency. Drupal 9 is based on Symfony 4 and CK Editor 4, both of which are slated for end-of-life in November of 2023. End of life means an end of Drupal Community support, as was the case for the November 2021 end of life for Drupal 8.
When a Symfony dependency reaches end of life, that translates into no option for extended, off-grid support from commercial vendors for security maintenance and bug fixes. Drupal 7, on the other hand, does not have a Symfony dependency, and we anticipate that commercial support will be available for Drupal 7 sites following D7 end of life – which is scheduled for November of 2023.
What has Driven Drupal's Symfony Dependency?
So if Symfony is the source of the recent upheaval, why the switch?
I asked this of Josh Estep, a Senior Drupal Developer for Promet, and he explained five essential benefits of Symfony:
- A bigger developer community. Symfony is a widely used PHP framework, and thus has a large community of developers who can contribute to and support Drupal.
- Improved performance and scalability. Symfony components are designed to be lightweight and efficient, which helps to improve the overall performance and scalability of Drupal.
- Better maintainability. The use of Symfony components and conventions in Drupal makes the codebase more organized and consistent, which makes it easier to maintain and extend.
- Improved development experience. Symfony provides a set of well-documented, reusable components and tools that can be leveraged by developers to build Drupal sites more quickly and efficiently.
- Better integration with other systems. Symfony's use of modern web development techniques, such as HTTP caching and routing, makes it easier to integrate Drupal with other systems and services.
Keeping Pace within a Digitally Driven Climate
It’s important to keep in mind that if Drupal’s fast pace is a source of frustration, this is simply a reflection of the digitally-driven environment that powers our world. All technology is moving fast, and the collective brainpower of the worldwide Drupal community does not lend itself to a CMS that stands still.
Each new Drupal version release represents a big step forward toward a far superior CMS.
We get the frustration though. Many Drupal site owners are still reeling from the trauma of migrating from Drupal 7 to Drupal 8 or 9. Upgrading from Drupal 7 was a huge leap, and it can’t be emphasized enough that subsequent upgrades from Drupal 8 onward can be streamlined, straightforward processes that yield consistently superior CMS experiences.
High Price of Delayed Upgrades
An organization’s website now stands as its most critical asset, and any inclination toward “set it and forget it” is a perilous path. Regular maintenance and an embrace of upgrades as they are released is the only healthy approach toward ensuring a secure, high-functioning site that’s free of unwelcome surprises.
Let there be no doubt, (and I’d say this even if I was not Promet’s Director of Support Services) for anyone who feels confused and confounded by the steady stream of upgrades and releases, a trusted Drupal Support partnership with a provider who is on top of it and has your back, is the solution.
Upgrades and website maintenance are not something that can be delayed. Josh Estep has pointed out that the perilous path of putting off website upgrades is not linear. The impact of delayed upgrades is more of a snowball effect as bug fixes and incompatibilities between modules and current versions become increasingly complicated to unravel.
A commitment to keeping both Drupal core and contributed modules up to date, needs to be internalized and incorporated into standard operating procedures for every Drupal site owner – for all sorts of great reasons. Here are the top eight according to Josh Estep.
8 Imperatives for Keeping a Site Up to Date
- Security. New versions of Drupal core and contributed modules often contain security fixes that address known vulnerabilities. Keeping your site updated can help protect it from potential attacks.
- Features. New features and functionalities that can enhance the functionality of your site may also be included in Drupal core and contrib updates.
- Performance. Latest versions of Drupal core and contributed modules may offer performance benefits.
- Compatibility. New versions of contributed modules are often released to maintain compatibility with the latest version of Drupal; furthermore, it will be easier to keep PHP up-to-date because the latest core and contrib updates are likely to account for upcoming versions of PHP.
- Conflicts and complications. The dependencies between the modules may have changed between version releases. This causes it to be significantly more difficult to update core and contributed modules on a Drupal site that has not been updated in several months or years. For example, a module may have been updated to require a newer version of another module, which is not compatible with the older version currently installed on the site; this creates conflicts that need to be resolved before the update can proceed.
- Time-consuming workarounds. Older versions of Drupal core and contributed modules might not support the latest version of Composer, which might require workarounds to complete updates, such as custom patches.
- Costly code changes. Older versions of contributed modules may not be compatible with the latest version of Drupal, and may require significant code changes or implementation of alternate contributed modules or even custom modules to maintain existing functionality. If most members of the Drupal community have already performed a given contributed module upgrade several months ago, it's less likely that issues identified due to core or other contributed modules being very out dated have been discussed online. This decreases the probability of being able to leverage findings from the Drupal community.
- Lower likelihood of errors. The level of effort associated with updating custom modules is greater when maintenance is delayed.
Interested in a streamlined migration to the latest Drupal upgrade, or better yet, not having to worry about whether your site and all its modules are up to date at all times? Let’s talk.