Drupal current state (Drupal 7 vs. Drupal 8)

Authored by: Prawesh Rajkarnikar

Drupal is a Content Management System (CMS) build in PHP, a software application that makes it possible for non-technical users to publish content to a website. It is one the most popular and used CMS in current use falling behind Wordpress and Joomla.

Figure: Data as of July 4, 2017

Today Drupal itself has two major versions available to be used, mainly Drupal 7 and Drupal 8 with major differences between their architecture and workflow. During initial release, it was easier to choose among these two, as the contributed module ecosystem would take the time to catch up in the new version of Drupal. So the developer should get familiar with Drupal 8 but still there are sites being built using Drupal 7. Unless it is a fairly simple site that didn’t require many contributed modules.

After the release of Drupal 8 on November 19, 2015, Drupal 6 reached its end-of-life (EOL) on February 24th, 2016 and was no longer supported. As Drupal has a stiff learning curve compared to other CMS, the same thing applies to the new major version of Drupal. Moving to a new version of Drupal is almost like learning a new platform. After its release, Drupal 8 took some time catching up to the adoption rates to that of Drupal 7. Currently, new sites are being built using Drupal 8 more than Drupal 7. As support for contributed modules for 8 increased, more and more contributed modules available on Drupal 7 were available for Drupal 8. It wasn’t until late 2016 that we saw a rise in Drupal 8 usage.

Fig: graph of weekly project usage of Drupal

At the current time, it is best to give time to build your new websites using Drupal 8 even if you have to learn it before start building. As the adoption rates will keep increasing for Drupal 8 and even new modules will be built for it rather than 7. Even if you are new to Drupal it's best to learn the newer version to future proof yourself and learn Drupal 7 side by side as required, since there are still a major number of websites running on Drupal 7. As you are bound to cross paths with Drupal 7 you will need an understanding of those too, to may make changes, debug, add functionality or even upgrade 7 to 8.

 Drupal 8 is a big step forward from Drupal 7 as many of the essential things have been packed into the core. Most of the used functionality in 7 are present in the core of Drupal 8 for eg multilingual modules and views. It’s when you need to build more complex sites that required more specific contributed modules is when you need to be more clear about the current state of Drupal 7 and 8. Since there are so many API changes between Drupal 7 and 8, it will affect the development process for modules and theming, so being clear on the state of Drupal 8 is important so that you do not get stuck in the middle of the development process as professional.

So, in the end, it all comes to the preference of the developer at the time of development. It depends on whether the developer is familiar with Drupal 8 or not. If not, does the developer have enough time to learn the new platform and complete the site? Even though if you build your site using Drupal 7 you will most likely have to upgrade it to Drupal 8 so it’s always better to use the newest version. So take your time and plan before choosing your correct version, as using Drupal 8 means future proofing your site. TIll then keep Drupalizing!!