Drupal, one of the most popular content management systems (CMS) worldwide, has been empowering websites for over two decades. As the community constantly evolves, it's essential to address the needs of users running older versions. A Recent Public Service Announcement (PSA) stated the Drupal Community, while no longer officially providing feature updates for Drupal 7, will offer extended support to bridge the gap until January 2025. In this blog post, we will explore Drupal 7 Extended Support (DES) and discuss the benefits it brings to site owners who are still utilizing this trusted CMS.
Understanding Drupal 7 Extended Support
With the release of Drupal 9 in 2020 and Drupal 10 in 2022, the Drupal community has actively encouraged users to migrate to the latest versions, benefiting from enhanced features, performance improvements, and security updates. Consequently, official support for Drupal 7 was originally planned for November 2022 then extended to November 2023. However, recognizing that migration may not be feasible for everyone, the Drupal community has extended its core support to allow Drupal 7 website owners more time to plan their migration to Drupal 10.
Benefits of the Extension
The Drupal Security Team will continue to release security patches for Drupal 7 sites. These patches address vulnerabilities and ensure the ongoing security of your website until January 2025. By applying these updates, you can minimize the risk of potential security breaches and maintain the integrity of your Drupal 7 site.
Drupal 7 support offers maintenance for critical issues that may arise. While the scope of support is limited to the most critical problems, it ensures that your website remains functional and operational. The Drupal community aims to provide reliable assistance to Drupal 7 users during this extended support period.
Time for Migration Planning
For website owners who have yet to migrate to Drupal 10, the support extension provides a valuable window to plan and execute the transition. This additional time can be utilized to evaluate requirements, assess the impact on custom modules or themes, and engage developers or agencies for a smooth migration process.
The PSA, along with the extended support for Drupal 7, provides a bridge for users who require additional time to plan and execute their migration strategies. This stability enables site owners to maintain their Drupal 7 websites while they work on ensuring a smooth transition to newer versions of Drupal, minimizing disruptions and allowing for a controlled migration process that aligns with their business needs.
Potential Pitfalls to Be Aware of
Third-Party Support Options
Drupal 7 extended support not only encompasses official community support but also encourages third-party organizations to offer their expertise and assistance. These vendors can provide specialized support, consultancy, and development services to help you navigate the Drupal 7 ecosystem until the end of the extended support period.
Increased Risk Exposure
The release of a security PSA inherently draws attention to a vulnerability, thereby increasing the risk exposure for Drupal 7 and Drupal 8 websites. Attackers who were previously unaware of the vulnerability may now actively search for websites that have not yet applied the security patches. This heightened risk puts site owners who have not yet addressed the issue at a greater disadvantage, potentially leading to compromised websites and data breaches.
Compatibility Challenges and Dependencies
Drupal sites often rely on various contributed modules and themes to enhance functionality and design. With the security PSA, there is a possibility that some modules and themes may not have updated patches available immediately. This can create compatibility challenges, as updated Drupal Core may not be fully compatible with all modules and themes, leading to broken functionality, design inconsistencies, and the need for additional development efforts to ensure seamless integration.
- PHP can be compared to a chef in a kitchen - it's a powerful tool that processes and combines various ingredients (code, data, and resources) to create a delicious and customized web experience for visitors.
Windows-Only Issues Include:
- Windows Hosting Providers: There are several hosting providers that offer Windows-based hosting plans. Some popular examples include GoDaddy, HostGator, Bluehost, and A2 Hosting.
- Microsoft Azure: Azure is a cloud computing platform provided by Microsoft that offers hosting services for websites and applications.
- Windows Server with other hosting software: Windows Server is a powerful operating system that can be used as a foundation for hosting websites. You can install other web server software like Apache or Nginx on a Windows Server to host your website.
- Windows-based Content Management Systems (CMS): Some content management systems, like Umbraco and Sitecore, are specifically designed for Windows hosting environments. These CMS platforms leverage the features and capabilities of the Windows operating system.
User Confidence and Reputation
Security vulnerabilities, even when promptly addressed, can undermine user confidence in a website or organization. The release of a PSA can draw attention to the fact that a vulnerability existed, potentially damaging the reputation of site owners who have not yet applied the security patches. Users may question the website's security measures and hesitate to engage with the platform, leading to potential loss of traffic, conversions, and overall trust.
Drupal 7 extended support serves as a lifeline for website owners who require additional time to migrate from Drupal 7 to newer versions of the CMS. By extending security patches, offering critical issue maintenance, and fostering community collaboration, Drupal 7 sites can remain operational, secure, and reliable until January 2025.
While the Drupal community continues to encourage users to embrace Drupal 9 or Drupal 10, the Extended Support program acknowledges the diverse needs of its user base. It provides a valuable opportunity for meticulous planning and a smoother transition to the latest Drupal versions.
For Drupal 7 site owners, it is essential to evaluate the benefits of the extended support program and weigh them against the long-term goals of their websites. Whether it's a migration to Drupal 9/10 or leveraging the extended support period, prioritizing security and maintaining an up-to-date CMS environment is key to ensuring the longevity and success of your online presence.