How to Decide Whether to Move from Drupal 6 to Drupal 7 or 8

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In previous articles, we discussed potential threats to Drupal 6 websites after the platform reaches end of life and how soon to consider moving off of Drupal 6. In this article, we discuss how to decide whether to move from Drupal 6 to Drupal 7 or 8.

Drupal 7

Drupal 7 was released in early 2009 and currently supports over 1 million websites. Drupal 7 pushed the Drupal platform into the arena of an enterprise level development framework and has proven itself to be a flexible, durable and powerful web development solution. The admin interface was also improved.

Migrating from Drupal 6 to Drupal 7 would place a website within a stable, widely used and well documented development framework / CMS, with a rich, full featured set of modules. The Drupal developer community is also very familiar with Drupal 7, having worked with it for over 5 years.

One additional bonus of porting to Drupal 7 is that the migration process from Drupal 6 to 7, while not necessarily straightforward, has been documented.

The main drawback to porting to Drupal 7 is its shelf life. While Drupal has not announced an official “end of life” for Drupal 7, Drupal 9’s estimated release, in late 2018 or early 2019, would soon bring Drupal’s support of v7 to an end.

Drupal 8

Drupal 8 was released in late 2015. Unlike its predecessors, Drupal 8 represents an evolution of the Drupal platform, in addition to a significant improvement. The biggest different between Drupal 8 and earlier versions is the addition of object-oriented programming, by virtue of its embrace of several Symfony2 components. While this is good news for both Drupal and Symfony, long term, developers learning what is essentially a new “Drupal Way” during a migration from Drupal 6, could encounter a difficult learning curve.

Additionally, a mature and rich set of modules (or at least the set your website needs) may not be available when you need them.

drupal 8 interface

Screenshot of Drupal’s v8 Demo

On the other hand, Drupal 8 is an exciting opportunity to dig into a new Drupal, one that will set the tone for Drupal versions to come. Drupal 8 also contains, by default, many new features, such as native mobile support, as well as familiar modules now baked into the core.

For admin users the most noticeable upgrade will be significant improvements in Drupal’s administrative workflow. The interface's design (see image above) appears to be intentional, rather than an afterthought, as in previous versions.

Drupal 7 or Drupal 8?

Both Drupal 7 and 8 should be considered as strong candidates for an upgrade from Drupal 6. One argument for Drupal 8 is that it will outpace Drupal 7 in longevity by several years. On the other hand, longevity may be trumped by migrating to a well known framework, such as Drupal 7. Other considerations in making this decision include the below. The version to consider leaning towards is shown for each consideration in parenthesis.

  • Feature rich website relying significantly on modules (Drupal 7)

  • Website using mostly Drupal core modules (Drupal 8)

  • Moving off Drupal 6 immediately (Drupal 7)

  • Development team is unfamiliar with object oriented programming (Drupal 7)

  • Can afford to wait several months (Drupal 8)

  • Simple website with basic features (Drupal 8)

  • Business critical website (Drupal 7)

Based on the above analysis, a feature rich, business critical website scheduled to move off Drupal 6 immediately, should strongly consider Drupal 7. On the other hand, a simple website where development won't begin for several months should look to Drupal 8.

If you are interested in learning more about moving your website off of Drupal 6, contact Avatar New York today.


Avatar New York is an innovating, award-winning web design New York firm dedicated to providing clients with responsive websites that help grow brands and convert visitors to customers. With an expertise in web development, branding, cloud hosting, mobile app development, and CMS and e-commerce solutions.