With Drupal 9 set for release in 2020, and Drupal 7 and 8 no longer supported after November 2021, it is time to move your site upgrade to the top of your priority list. The Drupal 8 end of life means that after 2021, your Drupal 7 or 8 website won’t benefit from bug fixes, security releases or enhancements, and could be at a greater risk from hackers.
If you are running Drupal 7 — and close to a million organizations still are — your best plan is to migrate to Drupal 8 by 2020-21. This is a fairly large undertaking. Drupal 8 does include a built in data migration tool, but you still need to move your theme separately. It should, however, be the last migration of this type you will ever need.
Drupal 8 was a revolutionary step for the content management system, but many people do not understand some of the fundamental differences between Drupal 7 and Drupal 8. Migrating from Drupal 7 to 8 is a much more consequential move than migrating from Drupal 8 to 9.
We decided to break down the improvements and major challenges to migration, basically everything you need to know when you’re considering moving your own site to Drupal 8.
Best Improvements For Developers in Drupal 8
The most noticeable and impressive shift is that from procedural programming to object oriented programming (OOP PHP). Procedural programming relies on – you guessed it – procedures, also known as routines or subroutines. A procedure contains a series of computational steps to be carried out, meaning as you write code it executes from top to bottom.
Object-oriented programming (OOP) allows developers to define not only the data type of a data structure, but also the types of functions that can be applied to the data structure. This is based on the idea of creating individual objects that then have properties and functions that run from the object itself. This means the functions can interact with one another.
If this seems confusing, let’s just think of it as a car. A car is an object and it has properties, such as wheels which can then in turn be their own objects. This means you can create wheels from a wheel blueprint and those are properties of the car but the car has its own functions like driving and starting.
This shift represents a totally different way of thinking when writing code.
Why Should We Use OOP PHP?
Why use object oriented programming over procedural programming? This question gets asked a lot regardless of what language you use. It all breaks down to the scope of the project. For small simple projects, procedural programming is just fine. If you just need to write a script or three, there is no need to write a whole bunch of classes just to achieve the same thing. However, the drawback in doing things this way is that your code becomes very enclosed and not reusable. This is where Drupal 7 and below started to create problems. It was very heavy in the function universe and the API could be arduous to understand. Not every module exposed its function to the rest of the code base either. At times, you were unsure if you should realy access a function buried deep in an inc file. This is a very basic reason why there was a need for a change.
When you first start a new OOP project, there’s a lot more code to write. You are creating a whole system of objects for the entire system to use. However, once that has been achieved, you have before you a powerful set of base classes that can be utilized anywhere. This is what Drupal needed for quite some time and really lacked, especially in Drupal 7. Drupal 7 is very powerful, but very cluttered on the backend. So with a massive project like Drupal itself, we can now extend items in core and contrib with very little effort. This is the beauty of OOP PHP and should make Drupal a powerful force if used properly.
OOP PHP is hugely beneficial for developers because it allows for a more logical organization of code, including making it clearer to understand when analyzing a current site.
It also allows for greater complexity. OOP PHP can override and extend existing objects and can give them additional properties. For example, let’s go back to our car. A Mercedes is an extension it inherits the properties and functions of a generic car but it also has its own unique properties allowing for more power and complexity. This means your website can have enhanced functionality on the backend, while allowing for an easy-to-use front end for site administrators.
Biggest Challenge For Developers In Drupal 8
Drupal 8 is a revolutionary step for Drupal development. The current challenge for developers is that Drupal 8 is still in its early stages; the Drupal community is working together to fix bugs and known issues such as contrib modules. That is one of the benefits of building a website in Drupal there is a community compiled of thousands of Drupal developers that serve as a support network constantly helping Drupal evolve. We are proud to be an integral part of this community.
In the midst of our third Drupal 8 build, although we have come across challenges in terms of modules that weren’t ready or complex bugs with no documentation or solutions, we have utilized our teamwork to provide cutting edge solutions. The decision to upgrade to Drupal 8 should be an evaluation of your options, and we can provide guidance to take you on the best path. We are now leaders in Drupal 8 builds due to our experience investigating Drupal 8 processes.
There are many modules that are not ready for Drupal 8, and this may be a challenge, but it allows us to create these modules to then enhance your site functionality or you also have the option of waiting for the Drupal community to come up with solutions. We have led the Drupal community by coming up with solutions to issues such as Drupal 8 migrations and are now actively solving an issue with translation. This is where our developers work best fusing their Drupal experience with creative insight to create these custom solutions for clients. For Drupal 8 migrations, we have found a solution for a website with over a thousand pieces of complex content such as podcasts and videos. Drupal 8 may have challenging components, but it’s a challenge that the right Drupal agency will welcome.
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