June 25, 2020
Star Trek Next Generation Captain Picard, thinking at his desk, holding what looks like a tablet computer that says "Drupal 7" over it, and "Drupal 8-9" is floating above his head

Extending Drupal 7's End of Life: What's a nonprofit to do now? An Update

By Johanna

The pandemic has radically altered everything about our lives, including our work in nonprofits and open source software communities. These changes raise some questions about planning website projects. We’ll attempt to tackle some of those questions here.

This past Wednesday, the Drupal Security Team announced

Previously, Drupal 7's end-of-life was scheduled for November 2021. Given the impact of COVID-19 on budgets and businesses, we will be extending the end of life until November 28, 2022. The Drupal Security Team will continue to follow the Security Team processes for Drupal 7 core and contributed projects.

We’re on Drupal 7, but we’re not ready for a rebuild. So what does this mean? 

This is good news for nonprofit organizations on Drupal 7 who don’t have funds, capacity, and/or time for a rebuild right now. It means that the Drupal Security Team will keep watch on the Drupal 7 codebase for an additional year, into November 2022, and release security updates as needed. Whoever keeps your Drupal codebase happy and healthy now can continue to safely do so for an extra year beyond the original planned November 2021 “end of life” for Drupal 7. 

Security updates are great because they help keep your site secure and stable, but be aware that this does not change the fact that Drupal 7 is no longer being actively developed in terms of new features. Right now, creative energy and focus in the Drupal development community is on Drupal 8-9, and beyond. 

So, should our organization hold off on a rebuild?

There’s no need to hold off on rebuilding your site if you're ready to rebuild. Whether you’re rethinking your content, your visual design, your site’s core functionality, or any of the above, if you have funds and capacity to rebuild right now, our advice hasn’t changed: go for it. 

If you’re thinking of moving off Drupal, but still want to use content management system (CMS) software, we advise most nonprofits to stick to heavily-used open source software. For many organizations, if Drupal is not a good fit, WordPress may be a good option, especially if your site content is fairly simple. Another open source CMS to consider is Backdrop, which is an open source “fork” (i.e. spin-off) of Drupal that resembles a modernized version of Drupal 7. 

If you’re not sure which one is the best fit for your organization, feel free to get in touch with us to chat about options.

We want to rebuild on Drupal, but now that Drupal 7 has a longer life than Drupal 8, we’re confused. Should we rebuild on Drupal 9?

Drupal is still the most powerful open source CMS option that we recommend, because it’s heavily and widely used on a global scale. So it’s still a great choice. 

In short, Drupal 7 is an old, different product. Drupal 8, and the recently-released Drupal 9, are the future, and will provide your website with a stable foundation for many years to come.

You can absolutely rebuild on Drupal 8 right now. If your Drupal 8 site is built with care and attention to choosing modules that are “Drupal 9 ready”, it will seamlessly port to version 9 when the time is right to upgrade. 

The whole re-engineering of Drupal under the hood, between versions 7 and 8, was done with the intention of making major Drupal upgrades more uniform and less onerous into the future. Once you’re on Drupal 8, you should not need to rebuild to get to the next Drupal version, unless you feel like it. 

We covered this before, in our earlier post, Drupal 7 & 8 Support Ends Nov. 2021. What's a Nonprofit to Do?