Using Drupal 7 versus 8 for Your Next Web Project

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Drupal currently supports two versions - Drupal 7 and 8. While it might sound enticing to use the most recent version of Drupal for your next website project, Drupal 7 should also be considered as a contender, depending on the short and long terms needs for your online business.

Below we discuss the pros and cons of using Drupal 7 versus Drupal 8 as a web development framework.

Drupal 7: Released in early 2009 and currently supporting over 1 million websites, Drupal 7 pushed the Drupal platform into the arena of an enterprise level development framework. The platform has proven itself to be a flexible, durable, and powerful web development solution.

Using 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 five years.

For a website project that demands stability and predictability, Drupal 7 should be given strong consideration.

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

Drupal 8: Drupal 8 was released in late 2015, and unlike its predecessors, it represents a significant evolution of the platform, rather than an improvement. One of the biggest differences between Drupal 8 and earlier versions, is the addition of objective-oriented programming, by virtue of its embrace of several Symfony2 components.

While this is good news for both Drupal and Symfony, developers transitioning to a new “Drupal Way” could encounter a significant learning curve. Additionally, a mature and rich set of modules (or at least the set your website needs) may not be available.

Website projects with drop dead launch dates or mission critical features that currently rely on pre-existing modules, may want to think twice about using Drupal 8.

On the other hand, Drupal 8 is an exciting opportunity to dig into an all new platform that will be carried into subsequent versions. Drupal 8 also contains many new features by default, such as native mobile and multi language support as well as familiar modules now baked into the core.

For end users, the most noticeable upgrade will be significant improvements in Drupal’s administrative workflow. The management interface design appears to be intentional rather than an afterthought, as in previous versions, which is a major improvement for content managers in and of itself.