Upgrade to Drupal 8? This is our plan for migration

December 13, 2015 - 6:57pm -- Don Dill

I'm sure many of you reading this may have heard that Drupal 8 has been released, may have even received some marketing emails. John Locke, our founder and pricipal, put out a newsletter recently about the newly released Drupal 8. Since Drupal 6 will only be supported for 3 months, our recommendation to our Drupal 6 clients is that they do upgrade, since developers will stop supporting and updating their Drupal 6 modules sometime in mid-February.

While it is not absolutely necessary that you upgrade to Drupal 8 (your website won't just suddenly stop working and the sky isn't falling), security updates won't be released, which means that the Drupal community isn't looking at Drupal 6 vulnerabilities, which in turn, means that your site could potentially be vulnerable to attacks.

We have already migrated data over for another client, from D6 to D8, and this has seemed relatively smooth (though still a few unknowns, but their site is very complex). Our plan is to do this part for all of our D6 clients. By doing a dry run, we can then get a list of what gets migrated, and what does not get migrated (a full list of modules in use and whether or not there's a known upgrade path). This way we can estimate how smoothly the migration and upgrade should go (since D6-D8 migrations have a much cleaner path than previous version upgrades in the past).

However, we're still assuming that it's going to take several hours to do a theme rebuild, which is going to be necessary for most of our clients' sites, but this really depends on how much functionality (code) is built into the theme, rather than most functionality in individual modules. If there is a lot of code in the theme, and if you choose to do an upgrade, Freelock could do many improvements in the theme, and get things out of the theme and into stock Drupal functionality, which is much more stable.

Here is a list of our Drupal 8 migration plan for each of our clients:

  1. Dry run migration, get a list of successful migrations and "unable to complete" migrations

  2. Go through the "unable to complete" migrations and analyze whether we can drop this functionality, rebuild, or create a migration, and apply a time estimate

  3. Provide an estimate on theme rebuild

  4. Provide an estimate on views to rebuild

  5. Review any custom modules/functionality to determine porting and/or replacement cost/effort

We're planning to do this analysis for all our current D6 customers, but if you're not currently a client with us and interested in a version upgrade, please feel free to drop us a line here! In addition, we are currently offering a free dry run of what that migration path looks like for your site, with a purchase of a Freelock Drupal Site Assessment.

We look forward to hearing from anyone that is interested and we'd be more than happy to discuss what an upgrade means to you. Please feel free to reach out to us with any questions and happy holidays!

- Don and the Freelock team

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Thanks for your article on Drupal8 migrations. Helpful!

I have a Drupal7 site where I have files attached via link to each node. The nodes seem to migrate OK but the file attachments seem to be a problem.

Do you have any suggestions?

Thomas Morling

Submitted by John Locke on

Hi, Thomas,

At this point we have not attempted any D7 - D8 migrations, we're focused on D6 - D8. You might be hitting something that isn't quite complete yet...

Are the files migrating to the new site? Are the paths the same as the old site? We would troubleshoot by seeing where the migration failed -- is it showing up in the database migration tables? In the file tables? In the field tables?

... and then if we still don't have a simple answer, run the migration in a debugger.


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  1. I had the privilege of working with John and Freelock in launching a new Little League website. The process was flawless and the end product was magnificent exceeding our expectations. John knows his stuff! He had a wonderful ability to bring the perfect solution to our community based organization. Being volunteer run, we needed some special considerations in the way our website works, John understood this and delivered solutions that were perfect for us. We now have a cool website that also has the ability to grow with us into the future. I highly recommend John Locke and Freelock Computing.

    Brian Boone
    Pacific Little League

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