"Easy" Drupal Updates Moving Forward

I’ve been involved in content management for more than 15 years, and during that time, I’ve had my hands in just about every content management system you can think of. Drupal. Wordpress. Sitecore. Joomla.

You name it, I’ve been involved with it.

Each system has its obvious differences, but one of the common elements I’ve seen that was always a nightmare for clients was the painful platform updating process. In the past, whenever a new platform was developed, in order to take advantage of it, you had to do a lot of rebuilding of your site. You had to export your content, then import it back it. It took a lot of time.

Update-973348-edited.jpegIt wasn’t seamless. It wasn’t easy. It wasn’t fast.

Drupal has changed that.

Dries Buytaert had a great blog post earlier this month that explained Drupal’s new system updating process. It may sound like a small process change, but the impact is going to be huge.

Here’s how Buytaert explained the new process, which actually debuted when Drupal 8 launched in November 2015:

"With the release of Drupal 8, we moved Drupal core to use a continuous innovation model. Rather than having to wait for years to get new features, users now get sizable advances in functionality every six months. Furthermore, we committed to providing a smooth upgrade for modules, themes, and distributions from one six-month release to the next."

Drupal 8.1 was released in April 2016, less than six months after 8.0 came out. Drupal 8.1 featured a number of new modules, including BigPipe, which allows for substantially faster front-end and perceived performance. It’s had an incredible impact on Drupal websites in a relatively short period of time.  Drupal 8.2 debuted six months later with a whole host of new, experimental modules and functions. Each addition aimed to improve your experience on the back-end and your user’s experience with the front end of your site.

Prior to Drupal 8, those types of updates would only be possible every few years as part of a major version upgrade (from Drupal 6 to Drupal 7, for example). Now, though, because of the updated architecture and new mindset behind Drupal, those changes were able to be quickly implemented as a smaller site upgrade.

So, what does this mean for you? Well, think about when your computer updates. A pop-up alert appears on your machine that says a system update is available. You hit update, or maybe you let it update on its own overnight. Either way, the next time you turn your computer on, the update is made and you can leverage it. It’s as simple as that.

Not only does this shift in mentality benefit you and your users, but it also helps Drupal iterate much more quickly. Having seen the success of this type of “continuous innovation,” Buytaert revealed that Drupal will continue this type of updating method beyond basic systems updates and bring it to major version updates.

So, when Drupal 9 comes out (it’s not known when that will be at this point), you won’t need to reconfigure your whole site. You won’t need to rebuild anything. All you’ll need is a simple reboot of your system, and Drupal 9 will be at your disposal.

Like I said, it may seem like a small detail, but think about how this change can impact your business. If you’re already a Drupal 8 user and you’re thinking of updating your website, you won’t need to devote the dozens of hours and countless resources to put that plan in action; all you will need to do is a system update. That frees up your time and your resources to focus on what’s most important: your business.

This is just one of the many benefits of Drupal 8. Others include:

  • Improved usability
  • Design that is focused on mobile users
  • Improved accessibility
  • Integrations
  • Multilingual capabilities

And there is much more. Take a look at this infographic from the Drupal Association about more benefits of Drupal 8.

At Duo, we use Drupal 8 to help create websites with the functionality you need and the experience your visitors expect. If you’re interested in learning more about Drupal 8 and how it can help your business, let us know. 

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