Drupal 8 Migrations: Let the Migrations Begin

Our Drupal 8 Migration Experiences And What You Can Look Forward To

When we first founded Bear Group in 2007, we decided to focus our expertise in development with Drupal. 10 years, thousands of deployments, and 3 Major Drupal releases later, we still stand by that initial decision.

Drupal is unique from other CMS platforms in a number of ways, but with this latest release, Drupal runs even further ahead of the competition.

As we opened up the hood on Drupal 8, we were pleased to find that yes, there were more core features. And yes, caching had been improved for greater website performance. And yes–best of all for our clients–the user interface had moved one, great evolutionary step forward, making content more manageable than before.

Already, we’ve migrated quite a few different businesses to Drupal 8. The ease of transition and the swifter pace of our client’s web management after their upgrade confirms, from both a developer’s and an admin’s perspective, that it’s absolutely time to migrate to Drupal 8.

When You Should Migrate to Drupal 8

So far, we’ve encountered three different need-states where a migration to Drupal 8 was the best course of action:

1. You’re Currently on a D6 Platform

It’s Drupal’s policy to support its two latest releases, in this case Drupal 7 and Drupal 8. All websites built on Drupal 6 are now on “legacy” platforms, which means your CMS is unsupported (you can read more about knowing when your website has become a legacy here). While your website won’t suddenly go dark, an unsupported CMS will become a bigger issue over time the more outdated it becomes as security vulnerabilities are exploited and your website’s user experience (UX) starts to malfunction.

2. You Want a New Website

If you’re pursuing a new website with Drupal, it makes the most sense to build on D8. Aside from being the best system available, by building on the latest version of D8 you won’t have to worry about another major version update for several years (D9 is in the works, and they've been on a 3 or 4 year release cycle for these major versions historically).

3. You’re Redesigning Your Website

For businesses that are undertaking a website redesign, it’s a good time to coordinate a simultaneous migration–especially if you’re going to be building a new UX and updating with a brand new theme.

Since it’s release, we’ve been up to our elbows building websites and migrating clients to the new platform. Here are a few of our D8 stories; the different need-states of our clients, their migration experiences, and the impact an updated website had on their digital strategy.

Our D8 Migration Stories

Leapfrogging Shoes-and-Feet: Migrating From D6 to D8

shoes n feet migration

Located in Bellevue, Washington, Shoes-and-Feet is a business with a traceable heritage, providing footwear to a wide spectrum of occupations and lifestyles. We’ve worked with Shoes-and-Feet since 2009, helping with their site and tools to support their content marketing via the Drupal CMS.

Shoes-and-Feet had been considering a website redesign and decided to combine the website overhaul with a migration to Drupal 8, updating their legacy D6 platform. Leapfrogging D7 made the most sense, as D8 had more to offer in administrative functionality and would have a longer lifespan than a D7 platform. We successfully migrated and implemented their website, maintaining the cohesiveness of their web content throughout the migration.

In addition to the benefit of a more secure system, D8 came with a breadth of user interface improvements and added features (you can read about the updates made to the D8 UI here) that elevated the website management system for Shoes-and-Feet. As they had previously been working with the D6 user interface, an evolved UI was a welcome benefit.

A New Website: Building Snap 2 Skills With Drupal 8

snap 2 skills new website

Seattle Jobs Initiative is an organization that provides training to individuals seeking to develop their skills in a variety of industries. After receiving a federal grant from the U.S.D.A., Seattle Jobs Initiative used the funds to develop a new program called Snap 2 Skills that the U.S.D.A. could use as an educational tool. Modeled after SJI, Snap 2 Skills would provide similar training, teaching, and learning resources beyond the Seattle area.

Snap 2 Skills would be an entirely new website, built from the ground up, with a new theme and UX (User Experience). It made the most sense to build their new website with the best tools available. A D8 website would be the most secure, and provide the most support for content management tasks on their website. As a government website, it was also important that the Snap 2 Skills website be accessibility compliant, and D8 offered the most support for maintaining accessibility.

You can read more about our work with Seattle Jobs Initiative in our case study

Migrating Drupal: Transitioning From mojoPortal to Drupal

Diamondback

Originally founded as a BMX brand in 1977, Diamondback has since grown to an internationally recognized brand. Diamondback’s bicycles possess a versatility and innovativeness that they wanted reflected in their web presence as well.

When we first met with Diamondback, their website was built on a CMS, mojoPortal, that had become unsupported and difficult to update. Because their unsupported CMS would only cause more problems over time the older it became, we migrated them to a fresh Drupal 8 install. Because we were migrating their website from an external legacy website, we were unable to do a programmatic migration that would maintain the look and feel of their content. To preserve their content during the migration, we migrated their database to their new D8 CMS and then worked with a content manager who manually migrated each page of content. We kept Diamondback’s web theme from their previous website, rebuilding it on their D8 CMS.

You can read more about our work with Diamondback in our case study.

Still Not Convinced? Consider This

Aside from the success of our own experiences working with D8, here are a two more reasons why we encourage migrating to Drupal 8.

1.This is the best version of Drupal on the market. Hands down. In addition to the improvements made to the core and functionality of the Drupal CMS, D8 has an updated user interface that makes it significantly easier to manage, especially for non-technical admin. In the past, Drupal’s learning curve has always been a nuisance. D8 moves beyond that, with a much cleaner user interface, drag-and-drop functionality, and on-page editing. It also comes with:

  • Advanced multilingual support.
  • A new plugin system that makes it easier for your developers to extend and enhance your website.
  • Better scalability with improved page caching.

Purely from a content management perspective, Drupal 8 is much easier to work within.

2. If you’re on D6, you should migrate before your platform becomes a legacy. We highly recommend that any websites on D6 migrate to D8. Drupal’s current policy is to support its two latest releases, which means that websites built on D6 will begin to malfunction as soon as they become a legacy (you can read more about the issues of legacy websites here). We recommend migrating to D8 and leapfrogging D7 to give yourself the most time before your next necessary migration. With Drupal releases, there’s usually a 3-4 year cycle. Potentially, you could move to D8 now and not have to worry about migrating for another 8 years.

The Wait Is Over: It’s Time To Migrate

When D8 was first released there was some hesitation. Following any major release, there’s usually a period at the beginning where a series of rapid-fire releases are made to fix any discovered bugs. Because of that, we like to wait before moving any of our clients into the new system.

But Drupal 8 was released November 19, 2015, over a year ago. The dust has officially settled; Drupal 8 is ready for business.


Wondering if Drupal is the best fit for your website strategy? Experience a demo of Drupal 8 here, or feel free to download our white paper comparing various CMS platforms.