The introduction of Drupal 8 (and Drupal 9) brings a new framework to Drupal and exciting improvements to its performance. But is it the right choice for you?
Did you know? Drupal 7 is reaching End of Life
Thanks to the efforts of the GT Drupal Users Group and the development of quickstart resources like Drupal Express, Drupal 7 has been a popular choice of CMS for campus sites.
However, Drupal 7 is reaching End of Life in Novmber 2021.
OIT Plesk Web Hosting will be phasing out support for Drupal 7 sites, and existing sites will be required to upgrade or change CMS.
The challenges of Drupal 8
Drupal 8 is built with a completely different framework than Drupal 7, and although the user interface is still familiar, it can be viewed as a totally new CMS.
While Drupal 8 may seem like the next logical step for your site, there are several challenges to be aware of before committing to adopting it:
- Many Drupal 7 modules are not available for Drupal 8
Modules need to be entirely re-written for Drupal 8, and progress is dependent on volunteers from the open-source community.
- There is no direct upgrade path from Drupal 7 to Drupal 8
Although some tools exist that can help with partially migrating existing site content, a Drupal 8 site has to mostly be built from scratch.
- Updates cannot be automatically managed
Drupal 8 sites are strongly recommended to use the Composer CLI tool to manage installation and updates for Drupal core and any modules, due to more complex dependency requirements.
The Installatron tool on Plesk does not support Composer-managed updates, and is not recommended for managing a Drupal 8 site. Installatron will update Drupal core without checking dependencies, and as a result it presents a high risk of breaking your site.
Plesk now offers the PHP Composer UI tool to provide limited Composer support via a site's control panel, but updates have to be manually triggered at this time.
Is there a recommended alternative to Drupal 8?
If Drupal 8 seems like it might not be the best fit for your site going forward, we recommend considering Wordpress as the next most popular choice in CMS.
Further, for sites focused on serving content, you may want to consider the upcoming CampusPress service, just announced at the Spring 2020 OneIT Symposium.
CampusPress is the next generation of the Professional Web Presence service, and will offer managed updates and dedicated end user support, so site owners only ever need to focus on building their site and creating content.