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FAQs for this Week’s Drupal 8 Hard Stop

Nov. 2, 2021 marks a first for Drupal.

Never before has a Drupal version end-of-life date signaled a true hard stop, with no possibility of extended support and no commercial vendors that are in a position to provide off-grid security maintenance and bug fixes. 

At issue is Drupal 8’s Symfony 3 dependency, which was also decommissioned on Nov. 2, 2021.

Fortunately, the upgrade from Drupal 8 to Drupal 9 is a straightforward process that bears little resemblance to the inherently major undertaking that accompanied migration from Drupal 7 to 8. Unfortunately, however, more than 25 percent of the more than 1 million Drupal sites worldwide are still on Drupal 8. Despite the best efforts of the Drupal Community to convey that the Nov. 2, 2021 end of life date is truly a hard stop for Drupal 8, the message that the end of life date for this version is non-negotiable does not appear to have caught on. 

In the weeks and months ahead, unwelcome surprises may be in store for Drupal 8 site owners as a result of security vulnerabilities and a lack of support.  

For any site owner still on Drupal 8, upgrading to Drupal 9 needs to achieve top-of-mind status ASAP. 

We field questions from clients and the Drupal Community every day concerning the need to upgrade from Drupal 8 to 9 and the impact of Drupal 8 end of life. Here are the key facts and stats concerning what’s next for Drupal sites and what to do now. 

Drupal release dates and dependencies

Due to Symphony 3 and 4 dependencies, EOL dates for Symphony 3 and 4 will mean a forced EOL on Nov. 2, 2021 for Drupal 8 and a forced EOL in Q4 2023 for Drupal 9. Drupal 7 sites, on the other hand, will have the option of extended paid commercial support.

 

What does end of life mean in the Drupal world?

End of life signals the cessation of Drupal Community support, bug fixes, security updates, and any further core development. 

When previous versions of Drupal reached end of life, commercial vendors stepped in to fill the void with the option of paid support packages, but because of Drupal 8’s Symfony 3 dependency, which reached end of life on Nov. 2, 2021, ongoing support is not available.

 

Will a Drupal 8 CMS still function after Nov. 2, 2021?

Chances are, when we wake up on Nov. 3 and Nov. 4, Drupal 8 sites will continue to function as normal. We cannot predict the timeframe within which problems will begin to emerge, but it is absolutely just a matter of time. Once the Drupal Community stops issuing security releases and Symfony stops supporting the PHP code, potential vulnerabilities will run deep and wide. 

Security risks increase with each passing day after Nov. 2, 2021.
 

What’s the risk of further delaying migration from Drupal 8 to Drupal 9?

It’s not difficult to detect that a site is still on Drupal 8. Any organization that believes security is only an issue for sites that contain sensitive financial or medical data needs to question the potential organizational impact of their site being compromised or disabled.

There is no shortage of bad actors in the world for whom hijacking a site is seen as a sport. Failure to update can result in unnecessary exposure on many fronts. 
 

How long does it take to upgrade a site from Drupal 8 to Drupal 9?

From 10 hours or less on the low end to 50 hours on the high end. 

Upgrading from Drupal 8 core to Drupal 9 core is straightforward and simple. It’s the presence of contributed and custom modules, along with detection of any deprecations, that can delay or complicate the process. Drupal 8 contributed modules need to be evaluated to determine whether there is a supported upgrade path or if an alternative is required. Custom modules and themes also need to be individually reviewed to determine the upgrade path.
 

What if my Drupal 8 site has a module that does not have a Drupal 9 version?

The first step is to try and identify a replacement with similar functionality. If no good alternatives are found, site owners can opt to stay on the Drupal 8 version of the module, closely monitor the functionality, and watch for the release of an upgraded version. In some cases, site owners might opt to have a custom module written to handle the gap. 
 

If extended commercial support for Drupal 7 will be available after that version’s end-of-life date, why isn’t that the case for Drupal 8?

Drupal 8 has a Symfony 3 dependency. Drupal 7 doesn’t.  

Prior to the pandemic, both Drupal 7 and 8 were slated for end of life status this month. Due to the wide range of business disruptions brought on by Covid-19, and the fact that migrating from Drupal 7 to 9 is an inherently lengthy process, the Drupal Community extended the Drupal 7 end of life date by one year. 

While extending the Drupal 8 end of life date was not an option, it was also not deemed necessary, largely because the Drupal 7 to Drupal 8/9 migration process differs from the Drupal 8 to 9 upgrade by a depth and breadth of magnitude.
 

Will there be any sort of extension or grace period for upgrading to Drupal 9 following the Nov. 2 end of life date? 

No. 

The end of life date is based on a third-party dependency with Symfony 3. As such, it’s a non negotiable hard stop.
 

What is Symfony?

Symfony is a PHP framework for web projects that optimizes efficiencies in the creation and maintenance of PHP web applications, while leveraging a set of 50 reusable components. It is one of the most popular, reliable, and mature PHP frameworks available.
 

What to do now?

Promet Source has developed a comprehensive package of Drupal 8 to 9 upgrade capabilities to ensure a straightforward and seamless upgrade process. The Promet team of Drupal 8 to 9 upgrade experts is adept at working closely with clients to optimize outcomes while ensuring no disruption to current operations. 
 
Promet’s focus on accessibility during every phase of strategy, planning, design, and development enhances efficiency while providing the confidence that backtracking will never be required to ensure the new site meets current ADA Section 508 web content accessibility guidelines. 
 
As a leading Drupal consulting, development, and support provider, we leverage a depth and breadth of skills and perspective, with a commitment to add value and share expertise every step of the way. 
 
Contact us today and let’s get started!