After years of teasing Drupal 8 is finally available on a stable release. Hurrah! As a specialist Drupal Agency, we’re being asked more and more “should we move to Drupal 8 now, or wait?”. It’s a fair question to ask, and there are pro’s and con’s to both arguments, but what decision is right for you?
Drupal 8 promises to be exciting and comes with some great new features. It’s built for responsive, from the ground up. Mobile friendly from it’s core, including the administration area and state of the art image handling. One bug bear of Drupal 7 can be argued to be its cluttered content authoring process. No more with Drupal 8; the authoring experience has been vastly improved with a decent WYSIWYG integration and in-place editing, allowing content updates directly on the page via AJAX rather than the traditional edit form workflow. There’s loads more too, including better page caching, improved multilingual support, higher performance and efficiency & the introduction of the RESTful interface.
The dreaded “migration”
“Say whaaat?! I thought we could just upgrade?” Afraid not, sir. Drupal 8 is so radically different that a standard upgrade just isn’t possible. Content will have to be migrated to the new version as though it was a completely different CMS. Of course, it comes with a migration framework that is streamlined for precisely this purpose. However, it’s never quite that easy and you have to take into account any custom theming and modules.
Still on Drupal 6?
Sorry to say that Drupal 6 support is coming to an end. No security patches, no support, nothing. If you haven’t already started the process of transferring to Drupal 7, I recommend you do so right away. Typically, Drupal will maintain up to the previous version and 3 months post the subsequent next launch. So, you’ve got a few years of Drupal 7 before you need to worry about moving on. We’re expecting Drupal 7 support to continue on until at least 2018.
The case for building on Drupal 8 now might seem obvious. After all, it is more powerful out-of-the-box than ever. It now comes pre-rolled with key modules such as Views and a WYSIWYG editor, both tightly integrated into Drupal core. This has the additional benefit of streamlining maintenance, development and content authoring.
The argument for Drupal 8 is getting stronger as time goes on. It’s more powerful, more “ready to go” out of the box and comes pre-rolled with some cracking features.
There are currently 10,152 Drupal 7-compatible modules available on drupal.org and merely 673 for Drupal 8. That’s a pretty huge gulf. For the simple sites out there, these missing modules may not be a problem, but for the masses they are. For most, this is where the biggest hold back lies.
It’s not black and white. There’s certainly a decision to be made and it really comes down to your requirements and time frame. Needless to say, it’s a great time to get involved in Drupal.