Skip to main content
Main Image
Happy person dancing in a street
April 17, 2023

Now is the right time to update Drupal 7 to 10 thanks to ECA

by Jürgen Haas

Drupal 7 is going End-of-Life eventually. While this had been originally scheduled for a date which has passed for a couple of years already, support got extended and may well be finished in November this year - although that may still get extended again for another year or two. That's why there are plenty of discussions in and around the Drupal community of what should be done to all those still existing and mostly deeply necessary Drupal 7 sites. The options are:

  • Upgrading to Drupal 10
  • Staying on Drupal 7
  • Switching to another platform, e.g. Backdrop, WordPress or others

Why is the first option certainly the best?

Let's face it, every Drupal site is hosted on that platform for good reasons. Different reasons for each of them. While the rich feature set is important to most, the performance, its scalability and security are must-haves not only for enterprise websites. A web presence of any size and purpose benefits from those aspects and many others, this blog post is not about to enumerate them all. But we know for sure, that hundreds of thousands of Drupal 7 sites haven't moved away from the platform even after that many years. Simply because Drupal is what suits them best. That's why moving away from Drupal is rarely a great idea.

So, why are so many still holding back on updating to the modern Drupal framework?

One out of these three reasons is always brought up - sometimes even all of them at once:

  • Missing resources, either budget or people power
  • Complexity of the modern technology
  • Missing functionality due to not yet updated modules

There is a lot to say about the resource constraints. While I can't speak for every individual case out there, what's very common these days is the unfortunate focus on short-term indicators. In the context of an upgrade to Drupal 10 that approach misses out on important gains, the composable architecture of the modern Drupal platform in particular. In other words, the initial jump might be more challenging. But from then on, the platform is maintainable and easily upgradable even across major updates for decades to come. Drupal has demonstrated this with already 2 major updates from 8 to 9 and then 9 to 10. Not only has the Drupal community kept up with an easy upgrade path, their experience helps them to make it even easier for each future generation of Drupal.

Having said that, the same infrastructure paradigm-shift is the reason why this composer-based dependency management is often perceived to be complicated. Where in reality the opposite is true. I'm not saying there isn't another learning curve ahead of us. There is one. And always will be. Not only in this post-Drupal-7 era, but everywhere in life. And that's a good thing because if we didn't progress, we would be falling behind continuously. Not only that, the technical debt of our old technology will cause hidden costs over and over again. In other words, not having a budget for a Drupal 7 to 10 update makes me wonder where the budget for the continued use of either outdated, or in the case of switching the platform, less capable technology should come from? While the ongoing effort for running the modern Drupal platform declines immediately, the cost of not upgrading increases exponentially as long as the decision is not being taken.

This debate is difficult, I know. And I feel sorry for alluding to this, as it may be challenging for many. Therefore, let's switch gears and have a look into the third reason why so many Drupal 7 sites haven't updated yet: missing functionality due to not yet updated modules.

Does Drupal 10 provide everything needed?

Drupal core has never been faster, it has never been more stable, it was never easier to get started while at the same time being the most user-friendly Drupal we've ever seen. And that describes just the status quo. So many initiatives are working hard, day and night, in moving forward on all technical levels of Drupal. So, yes, Drupal 10 is ready for prime-time.

However, there is probably not a single Drupal site that works without any additional modules that are not part of its core package. And from the perspective of a Drupal 7 site owner or maintainer, it is likely that a number of used modules on Drupal 7 don't seem to be available for Drupal 10. Even worse, it looks like as if some of those modules haven't even tried or declared officially that they won't ever upgrade to modern Drupal.

As a Drupal service provider, we at LakeDrops have been in that situation with many customer projects over the past years as well. What we've learned, though, there is always a solution when upgrading. Sometimes, it's not the same module in Drupal 10 that used to do the job back in the old days. Just like with spring-cleaning, moving to a modern technical platform comes with some re-structuring and re-thinking on how certain tasks should be done.

This is particularly true for the ECA module, which we've helped to architect, develop and continue to maintain, together with a growing team of Drupal community members. It's an event driven no-code solution, which allows configuring the execution of any Drupal provided action under configurable conditions. Hence, the name ECA, it stands for Events - Conditions - Actions. Very much like the really famous Rules module in Drupal 7, ECA allows the site builder to configure the behaviour of their Drupal site in literally all areas without having to hire programmers. And ECA does so much more that we even receive "love letters" from formerly frustrated Drupal 7 users who couldn't seem to find what they needed in Drupal 10, until they've found ECA. More to that in a minute.

How can ECA help to upgrade your Drupal 7 site?

The Rules module is one if not the most popular Drupal 7 module. As of writing in Spring of 2023, over 150.000 Drupal sites are using it, of which more than 90% are still on Drupal 7. Without judging, those users don't feel comfortable with the Drupal 9 or Drupal 10 version of that module and therefore got locked into their Drupal 7 environment. But that's not all, a significant number of mostly less known modules are no longer maintained and don't seem to have alternative solutions.

With ECA, all Drupal 7 users can shift their showstoppers aside and get onto Drupal 10. It's why we started the ECA project in the first place a couple of years ago. Most of our Drupal 7 customers couldn't afford to stay on Drupal 7, and we had to provide a solution to move forward. And ECA stood up not only for us and our customers, it does grow in popularity in seemingly all areas where Drupal is being utilized. It's in production for huge and extremely complex enterprise grade web applications as well as for large and medium commercial websites, online shops, intranets and portals. ECA also loves the small ones, believe it or not, as it is the solution for all those "tiny" requirements on personal blogs or other small websites as much as for the challenging tasks.

No doubt, while ECA provides the site owners with access to all the power of Drupal from within the admin interface, it has proven to be solid, maintainable, yet non-intrusive to the rest of the application or website. But is all that technical excellence convincing enough to get off the island and come to Drupal 10? No, there needs to be more.

Right from the beginning, the ECA team has been transparent, approachable and welcoming to other maintainers and users likewise. This lead to a flourish community of people who are interested in, working with, developing for, or otherwise get involved with ECA. As already mentioned, there are so many users who already managed to upgrade from Drupal 7 to 10 or are right in the middle of that process. When reading their comments, e.g. in the #ECA channel of Drupal slack, it becomes obvious how much burden ECA has taken off their shoulders.

Are you next?


Add new comment


  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
  • Web page addresses and email addresses turn into links automatically.