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Drupal Migration Does Not Have to Be Scary

It's the season for celebrating scary stuff -- ghosts, goblins, ghouls, haunted houses and the whole host of night creatures. 

One thing that does not need to end up on the list that provokes a loud scream: Preparing for Drupal migration. If you are still on Drupal 7, you know that you need to migrate. Drupal 7 will be hitting end-of-life status in November of 2021, and even though that’s still two years away, the longer you delay this inevitability, the longer you are missing out on the superior features of Drupal 8, and the longer it looms over your to-do list. Fear not! A careful inventory and audit of your current site can serve to significantly streamline the migration process. 

Here are 6 Steps to prepare for Drupal migration to ensure optimal efficiency:

1. Audit Existing Content. 

A content inventory that flags outdated, redundant, or off-brand content is a critical first step in the site migration process. The less content that needs to be migrated to the new site, the simpler the process will be, so it’s helpful to clear out the clutter early, while identifying and prioritizing which information you want to keep (and migrate). 

2. Look at Site Analytics.

It’s often difficult for stakeholders to agree on which content and features are must-haves, and which ones can be left behind. Analytics help. Data that reveals which pages get the most traffic will bring much-needed insight and objectivity into the decision-making process. It will also identify which pages and articles are not likely to be missed because they are receiving relatively few visits. 

3. Audit Modules.

Evaluate your site’s contributed modules to determine whether they’ve been updated for Drupal 8 or pulled into Drupal 8 core. If they haven’t been, investigate whether there is a Drupal 8 alternative that could be used to maintain the same functionality. You'll also want to evaluate any custom modules that have been written specifically for your site by your development team, paying special attention to the ones that integrate with systems outside of Drupal. Search Drupal.org for a contributed module that could provide the same functionality. If you don’t find replacements, your development team will need to rewrite the custom module(s) for Drupal 8. 

4. Assess Your Theme.

If your current site is using a contributed theme, look into whether there is a Drupal 8 version of that theme. While it is unlikely that a larger site would use a contributed theme without any modifications, it’s quite possible that your site’s custom theme is a sub-theme of a contributed theme (a base theme like Bootstrap, Zen, or ZURB). If you can keep the same base theme (but in its D8 form), you might need fewer changes to upgrade your custom theme to work with D8.

5. Identify Complexities.

The next step is to determine whether there are particularly complex features or functions of the site -- such as multi-language capabilities or single sign-on (SSO). While there are solutions to these complexities, the migration process is significantly more straightforward when they are identified and accounted for early.

6. Consider an Automatic Migration Tool.

Automatic Drupal 7 to Drupal 8 migration tools (like the Drupal UI Migration Tool or the Drush Migration Tool) could be worth trying, especially if your site doesn’t have much custom code. The likelihood of one of these methods’ success for any particular migration depends on your site’s architecture. If it is predominantly made of content types and fields configured through the Drupal UI and using Drupal core functionality, there’s a greater chance an automatic migration will do more of what you need.

 

One final note: Considering that the June 2020 release date of Drupal 9 is just eight months away, some clients have asked whether it’s worth it to migrate to Drupal 8 at this point. 

Absolutely yes. 

Unlike the migration from Drupal 7 to 8, moving from Drupal 8 to 9 is an incremental, backwards-compatible upgrade. That means the migration from Drupal 8 to 9 can occur using the same process as a minor update (as long as your site’s installed modules and themes are also compatible with Drupal 9.

At Promet Source, we understand that your organization’s website tells your story and that no two are alike. We also understand that the series of steps to prepare for migration, which we have outlined here, are often outside of the scope of available time and resources. 

Our Architecture Workshops are designed to zero in on the big picture, taking into account all factors that affect the migration to a successful Drupal 8 website. For many clients, the opportunity to achieve stakeholder consensus over the course of a one- or two-day workshop, as well as a plan for next steps, represents a breakthrough opportunity that could otherwise take months and months of meetings and analysis.  

If you are in the process of auditing your site for migration, interested in learning more about an architecture workshop, or are looking for a value-added partner to perform the entire migration process for you, Contact us today.

--Written in collaboration with Lisa Wahlgren and Mindy League