Drupal 7 to Drupal 8 migration

Dear Entice community,

As some of you already know, Drupal 7 central infrastructure is arriving to its end of life, and at CERN we are organizing phasing out this infratructure in favour of the new Drupal 8 infrastructure. The reasons behind this change are multiple, including move out from a Drupal version that will  be soon deprecated and out of support, move CERN websites to the new look & feel design defined (new CERN Theme and components) and focus the infrastructure resources towards the current production technology (Drupal 8).

What this means to you?

Since all Drupal 7 web sites will soon transition to Drupal 8, this means that your Drupal 7 web sites will be phased out on summer 2020. By that time, we can't ensure your site will still be available online and will be probably removed from the central infrastructure.

Action required

The first thing we would like to ask you, it is to give us feedback about your plans for your owned websites. Please, bear in mind that choosing between different options does not force you to follow them. We know that decisions can change in the following months, but you will contribute to give us an idea of what we have to plan to perform such migration as smooth as possible and cover also some corner cases that might appear.

For that purpose and to facilitate things a bit, we've prepared an application for you where you can tell us about your plans concerning your Drupal 7 sites:

Next steps

Regardless of your choice, we encourage you to define, to plan and to start as soon as possible the process, getting in touch with us and letting us know about any doubt you might find.


Migrate existing Drupal 7 website into Drupal 8

We have evaluated the migration framework provided by Drupal community, https://www.drupal.org/docs/8/upgrade/, and even it evolved pretty well still it's not and never will be a full migration of existing Drupal 7 website. So will be better to clarify here how to request the migration and what to expect from the migration.

Important: the migration operation is something we can run only once and must be done on top of a blank website. If you require to do updates on the Drupal 7 website while the Drupal 8 website is getting prepared, you must apply the content updates on both sites manually to keep them in sync until the Drupal 8 is ready to replace the Drupal 7 website.


How to migrate my existing Drupal 7 website?

In order to migrate your Drupal 7 website these are the steps to follow:

  1. Request a new Drupal 8 website (https://cern.ch/web), for this use case please select "Blank site" profile. This website will be later used to get the migration from the Drupal 7 site.
  2. Once you receive the confirmation message that the website is created, open a request with Drupal infrastructure via service-now https://cern.service-now.com/service-portal/report-ticket.do?name=request&se=Drupal-Service.
  3. In order to quickly resolve the request please include in the request the Drupal 7 sitename and the Drupal 8 sitename created in step 1.

Please note that the migration will be done on another non existing sitename, and once the website is ready to get published you can contact Drupal infrastructure team and we will point the original sitename to the new Drupal 8 migrated site. (the original Drupal 7 website can be at that point deleted or archived)


What to expect?

There are lot of things from your existing Drupal 7 website that will be migrated and therefore will save a lot of time, but it's not perfect and there are few things to take into account.

Things to remark that are not migrated, see more here https://www.drupal.org/docs/8/upgrade/known-issues-when-upgrading-from-drupal-6-or-7-to-drupal-8#d7_to_d8:

  • Views, it was decided by the community that Views were too complicated to migrate and therefore they need to be recreated manually by the administrators, more details: https://www.drupal.org/project/drupal/issues/2500547
  • Theme and theme related settings, unless your site is using a community theme that provides the upgrade path (which seems unlikely) the theme and it's related settings won't be migrated. Please also note that for the moment there is no migration path implemented for the CERN theme.
  • Custom modules

What should work includes, content migration, menus, users and permissions, sso settings, blocks.


And now I got my site migrated by the infrastructure team, what else?

As you probably have already seen, after the migration done by the infratructure team there are still some things to work on your site. And here is the tricky part since it fully depends on your website configuration and functionalities to determine what else needs to be done. As a general starting point, you can continue the migration by:

  • Placing the existing blocks into the new regions on the Drupal 8 theme.
  • Re-creating views, views are not migrated and therefore needs to be copied/pasted from the original site into the new Drupal 8 migrated version. Fortunately, it should be as easy as checking the view configuration and replicate it on the migrated website.

If you are using some contrib modules to provide some functionality on your website, you need to check if a Drupal 8 version is available, find another alternative module or deprecate this functionality. Same applies for any contrib theme you might be using.

In the case of custom modules, you are responsible to get them migrated to Drupal 8 if you want to keep the functionality


Other alternatives

We want also to cover on this migration campaign one use case might be interesting for some of you. We are thinking on preparing an alternative migration path for those sites that are static and don't require anymore any change or the benefits of dynamic content. This is the case for example for event websites where they are kept online just for reference purpose but don't require anymore changes or updates on the content.

In that case we are evaluating the exportation of the website as pure HTML and store it on another central web hosting solution. By doing that the site will still be online as a static snapshot of the website at a certain point of time and won't require any maintenance since then.

If you think this option is interesting for some or any of your Drupal websites, please let us know by using the Feedback web application, https://drupal-migration-feedback.web.cern.ch/ (select the specific action "I'm interested in a static html version of the site")


Need help?

We know about the difficulty of this process, so if you are looking for tutorials and support about web design and web content management, consider using our official channels, where you can ask to the corresponding experts. Those channels are:

  1. Webtools website: information on how to use the new CERN Drupal 8 themes and Components
  2. Drupal chat channel on Mattermost;
  3. Drupal community forum;
  4. Drupal Service NOW;
  5. Entice hack meetings twice a month. (Subscribe here.)
  6. CERN trainings:

We will be glad of helping you along the process!

Drupal Infrastructure Team

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