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drupal 9
drupal 9

Drupal 9 replaces Drupal 8. Long live Drupal 7!

Drupal 9 came out late last year, and Drupal 8 reaches its end-of-life in November 2021. Nothing strange about this. But did you know that Drupal 7’s life has been extended to November 2022? Due to the high number of active users, it’s in remission and will remain in use longer than Drupal 8. A unique state of affairs in software upgrade paths. Nevertheless, with just over a year to upgrade from 7 to 9, it’s time to make a plan to migrate to Drupal 9.

A little Drupal history

The Drupal community worked hard for nearly five years to produce Drupal 8, finally announcing its arrival in November 2015. Drupal 8 represented a significant transition, described as “… a complete teardown right to the foundation.”

For example, Drupal 8 adopted Symfony 3, a high-performance PHP framework with many reusable components. In addition, it swapped the legacy PHP Template theming language for the more modern Twig, and improved the user experience to make it easier for content creators. Furthermore, with web services in core, creating RESTful APIs is easy and fast. This feature alone is invaluable when connecting with many third-party applications – an area in which BSL specialises.

No gain without pain

Most Drupal APIs were deprecated so that Drupal 8 could evolve into a modern, API-first platform, so thousands of contributed modules needed a rewrite. As a result, some developers simply abandoned support for Drupal. If your site used a deprecated module (and many sites use contributed or custom modules), this left a gaping hole.

Furthermore, while Symphony 3 offered many technical advantages, this proved to be an Achilles heel, as support for Symfony 3 ends in November 2021. After this date, security bugs in Symfony 3 will not get fixed. This dependency has directly led to the premature demise of Drupal 8. The good news is that Drupal 9 uses Symfony 4 (at present, version 4.4), and they now plan to schedule Drupal releases to align with future Symfony releases.

Drupal 7 users reluctant to migrate

Despite all the excellent technical improvements, resistance within the Drupal community was relatively pronounced. Drupal 7 is still in use on around 620,000 live sites (66,4% of all Drupal websites) more than five years after the introduction of Drupal 8.

Which begs the question, “Why is the rate of adoption so slow?”

  • Site owners believed that migration from Drupal 7 to Drupal 8 is complex – comparable to adopting an entirely new CMS. While not strictly true, the architecture of Drupal 8 is fundamentally different from previous versions. In addition, as described above, many contributed modules never made the transition, and most custom modules need to be rewritten, adding to migration costs.
  • Drupal 7 and Drupal 8 themes are also entirely different. So porting a theme from one to another can’t be automated; You must rebuild each theme from scratch.
  • Finally, there has been considerable criticism of the performance of Drupal 8 in comparison with Drupal 7. Justified or not (we can find benchmarks that demonstrate both cases!), it’s a perception that is not easy to shake.

The fact remains, Drupal 8 offers a better, more responsive architecture. All of which makes the cost of ownership of a Drupal 8 site lower than that of earlier versions. Quoting the Borg: “Resistance is futile” 😉

The future is bright, the future is Drupal 9

If your company is still working with Drupal 7, it’s time to create a migration roadmap if you want to offer a modern, secure website from November 2022. Migrating to Drupal 9 will be crucial if you’re going to maintain your site’s functionality. And if you use anything beyond standard Drupal core modules within your site, you should plan the migration as soon as possible!

Your journey is more straightforward if you’ve already migrated from Drupal 6 or 7 to Drupal 8. Drupal 9 will be almost identical to the final Drupal 8 release, minus deprecated code. So when modules take advantage of the latest Drupal 8 APIs and avoid using deprecated code, they will almost certainly work on Drupal 9. So migrating from Drupal 8 to Drupal 9 should be as easy as deploying minor version updates of Drupal 8.

Looking out for gotchas

It’s worth looking at the requirements for Drupal 9 to identify any obstacles. Firstly, Drupal 9 (currently 9.2.6) requires PHP 7.3 or higher, and while that has been the recommendation for some time, it does not yet run everywhere by default. Certainly not on LTS operating systems such as CentOS and Debian.

It’s also worth noting that Drupal 9 requires at least MariaDB 10.3.7 or MySQL 5.7.8, while it is not rare to find much older versions on shared servers. In addition, the version requirement for Apache is now Apache 2.4.7 or higher. So check your servers, or ask your hosting provider before you start. It will save tears later!

Migration tips

For our Drupal 8 sites, we maintain a ‘base project’ which makes it easy to manage the project in git and update dependencies (including Drupal core itself) via the Composer package manager. The advantage is that you only need the custom modules, themes and config files in git, not thousands of core and contributed module files.

It’s worth noting that Drupal 8 initially started with a different base project, so we must convert older sites to a newer project first. The instructions are clear, but it was a bit of a hassle to implement the changes on another server and run the deploy script without causing errors.

Tips for upgrading Drupal core and modules

Drupal 9 is mainly compatible with Drupal 8.9, so you can expect modules to work as-is on both versions. But we recommend that you check the info file for confirmation.

Quite a few module developers took the chance to introduce a new, major version for Drupal 9. Major version jumps always require extra care – especially in combination with a major Drupal core update. Identify such modules as early as possible when planning a migration.

In several cases, there will be dependencies between modules, so we must (for example) follow an exact sequence of removing module A, then upgrading module B, then reinstalling module A. Sometimes there is considerable trial-and-error involved.

If a module is no longer available (and there is no longer a dependency), we sometimes create an empty ‘dummy’ module to allow the upgrade to continue. Without this, Drupal complains that it can’t find the module – blocking the execution of further commands necessary for deployment.

Drupal Expertise

With 25 years of experience in realising websites and custom software, we know many tricks of the trade. Working together with clients, we’ve built many Drupal solutions. We also have unrivalled experience linking Drupal websites to external systems and integrating complex search functions using Solr and Elastic Search. We manage websites in Drupal 7/8/9 and develop in Drupal 8 and 9.

Help with migration

We are happy to talk to companies who want to invest in migrating to a Drupal 9 website, application or platform. We can quickly produce a detailed migration plan that will show the cost/benefits of making the migration. And if you need custom modules, replacing modules that are no longer available in Drupal 9, we can include the cost of rewriting the module, so maintaining your investment. So why not contact our experts to help you begin your transition to Drupal 9?

The role of AI in Business Intelligence for multinationals

The role of AI in Business Intelligence for multinationals

BSL delivers Business Intelligence solutions to multinational organisations, integrating content from thousands of publications worldwide and delivering daily themed news alerts and briefings to business users. Recently, we’ve introduced AI technologies to these services, and our latest blog post highlights some of the benefits.

Whiteboards and the Canon of the Netherlands app

Whiteboards and the Canon of the Netherlands app

Recently, a digital whiteboard supplier called CTOUCH reached out to BSL, requesting permission to include the Canon of the Netherlands app in their store for use on their digital whiteboards in classrooms. We liked the idea and recently created a special version of our app designed specifically for the big screen.

Google Looker Studio: Making sense of big data

Google Looker Studio: Making sense of big data

In today’s fast-paced world, making quick and well-informed decisions is crucial. Google Looker Studio is a free tool that can give you a significant advantage. It can help you transform your vast amount of Analytics data into informative, easy-to-read dashboards and reports that are completely customizable.

Let BSL take care of your website maintenance updates

Let BSL take care of your website maintenance updates

We understand the importance of regular website maintenance updates for WordPress and Drupal. Hackers sometimes target popular open-source products, so keeping your CMS and any plugins up-to-date is essential. Trust BSL to keep your website up-to-date and secure while you focus on crafting persuasive content for your audience.

BSL Summer event on the water

BSL Summer event on the water

It was time for our annual summer event with the whole company. This year, Diana arranged a boat trip in a salon boat along the Vecht towards Loenen and Vreeland. After the boat trip, the summer event continued in the restaurant of Bistrotel ‘t Amsterdammertje, where everyone enjoyed a delicious dinner.

Adobe Firefly and Photoshop Beta with generative fill

Adobe Firefly and Photoshop Beta with generative fill

After the success of ChatGPT and Midjourney AI – both already in use at BSL – Adobe didn’t want to be left behind and made public their Beta releases of Adobe Firefly and Photoshop AI. With the arrival of the Adobe Betas, we’ve turned our attention to the new kids on the block, comparing them with Midjourney.

Midjourney prompts – Describing your perfect image

Midjourney prompts – Describing your perfect image

In an earlier blog, we introduced Midjourney as a tool we use within BSL when designing websites and banners for blogs. To direct Midjourney to create the image you have in mind, you need to write a prompt describing the image. This new blog discusses Midjourney prompts and some of the commands and parameters you can use.

Drupal 9 development using Tailwind CSS

Drupal 9 development using Tailwind CSS

Using Drupal, BSL has developed an extensive Intranet site to which we all have access. We’re developing a new version of the site, and in this blog, one of our developers talks about some of the tools we are using, including Twig templates, the Entity and Form APIs and Tailwind CSS.

Midjourney AI – Turning your ideas into images

Midjourney AI – Turning your ideas into images

Over the past few weeks, BSL has been exploring the many possibilities offered by Artificial Intelligence. This latest blog describes the use of Midjourney AI, a web service that generates images based on natural language descriptions (“prompts”). The results are impressive. Read our blog to find out more.

The benefits of long-term partnerships

The benefits of long-term partnerships

NBD Biblion offers personalised book and media title recommendations to schools and libraries, and supplies their clients with the titles they select. BSL has had a long-term partnership with NBD Biblion for more than twenty years, delivering development teams, technical advice, and support.

ChatGPT for business information analysis

ChatGPT for business information analysis

After the initial enthusiastic response to the introduction of ChatGPT and AI, attention switched to the unreliability of many ChatGPT answers. However, using Azure OpenAI (ChatGPT) and Cognitive Search with reliable data, we can deliver reliable, high-quality business information in response to natural language queries.

Browser engine wars – Part 2 – The impact of Apple’s iOS monopoly

Browser engine wars – Part 2 – The impact of Apple’s iOS monopoly

The Apple iOS monopoly means that every app on iOS – including browsers from Apple’s competitors – must use WebKit to display web content. While it’s not uncommon for browser developers to use a third-party engine, they can usually control which engine features they use in their browser and – if needed – add custom features.

Browser engine wars – Part 1 – How did we get here?

Browser engine wars – Part 1 – How did we get here?

The Register recently reported that Google is working on an iOS version of Chromium. A few days later, a second article claimed that Mozilla is working on an iOS version of Gecko, Firefox’s browser engine. Both reports suggest that the Apple browser engine on iOS, WebKit, is in danger of losing its monopoly.

Donation on behalf of earthquake victims in Turkey and Syria

Donation on behalf of earthquake victims in Turkey and Syria

On Monday, 6 February, several powerful earthquakes and aftershocks hit Turkey and Syria. This disaster affects as many as 23 million people, including many who are already in desperate need due to the conflict in Syria. If possible, please join us in making a donation on the Giro555 website.

WordPress and page-builders such as Divi and Elementor

WordPress and page-builders such as Divi and Elementor

For building websites on behalf of clients, we often use WordPress together with page-builders, making it easy to prototype and develop modern, responsive websites. With page-builders such as Divi and Elementor, you can easily and quickly design and build pages to match almost any design.

2022 and the Bright Side of Life

2022 and the Bright Side of Life

Taking the time to reflect regularly on the things we are grateful for at the Bright Side can help shift our perspective to focus on the positive aspects of our work. So, here are the things for which I’m grateful in 2022.

SEO benefits, and the power of good-quality content

SEO benefits, and the power of good-quality content

Many business owners still think their websites are merely visiting cards. Their “go-to” expression is: “our clients/audience already know where to find us…”. This may be true, but optimizing your website will reach new clients and audiences.

New Keylane Careers website

New Keylane Careers website

Keylane asked BSL to help design and build a new Careers website. The main aim is to increase the number of visitors by improving the organic search performance. To achieve this, we’re introducing a new design and adding blogs.

Cloud provider migration: What are the benefits?

Cloud provider migration: What are the benefits?

The focus of Cloud computing is to improve the efficiency of IT services. By choosing a cloud-based solution, organisations can stay up-to-date with technology innovations and benefit from higher scalability, lower expenses, and enhanced security.

A new website for BoekWijzer

A new website for BoekWijzer

We’ve completely revamped the BoekWijzer website! The website was built to support the BoekWijzer app, the mobile guide to the world of Dutch literature. Using the app, you can quickly and easily stay up to date with the latest literary news.

New developer / web designer at BSL

New developer / web designer at BSL

If you have any questions about your website or web design in general, then Patrick van Bennekom is ready to help you five days a week at BSL. Patrick helps to design and create websites and apps for our customers, including the design of logos and house styles to deliver a professional end product.

Migrating to the Cloud, benefits and opportunities

Migrating to the Cloud, benefits and opportunities

Several of our clients are migrating to the Cloud, and some that aren’t yet ready for this step are reviewing their legacy systems, intending to migrate to the Cloud in the future. We’ve recently completed two migrations on behalf of multinationals, and our experience has taught us that a direct approach (simply redeploying existing databases and applications on virtual machines) is not always the best route…

Beleev: Controlled Multisensory Environments

Beleev: Controlled Multisensory Environments

Perhaps you have never heard of snoezelen, a Dutch term that describes controlled multisensory environments (MSE) that stimulate various senses within a custom environment – a so-called “Snoezel” room. On behalf of St. John the Baptist special education school in Kerkrade, we’ve created custom software to create and manage so-called “Snoezel” rooms, controlling, lights, audio, switches and a video projector.

Goodbye 2021 and COVID-19 lockdowns – It’s time to look back

Goodbye 2021 and COVID-19 lockdowns – It’s time to look back

So who, in early 2020, thought that we’d still be operating under COVID-19 lockdown measures in January 2022? Luckily, my skill set has given me a better understanding of software development and technology than catering or hospitality. As director of an IT company, I’m happy to say that Bright Side of Life has taken to remote working as a fish to water. Let me tell you about our year.

Canon of the Netherlands apps now available in stores

Canon of the Netherlands apps now available in stores

The Dutch Canon of the Netherlands (2007) tells the story of how the Netherlands was formed. Using the Canon, BSL developed the popular EnToen Nu apps for iOS and Android a few years later. In 2020, the Canon was extensively revised, so we’ve completely rewritten the Canon apps, bringing them up-to-date, making them faster and even more fun to use. They’re now available in the app stores.

Integrating powerful AI search capabilities within apps and web-services

Integrating powerful AI search capabilities within apps and web-services

Search technology is continually evolving, so we’re always ready to adopt new technologies to meet specific client needs. This blog outlines our recent experiences with Azure Cognitive Search and Cognitive Search AI services – classifying thousands of new documents each day, delivering customised briefings to subscribers. Using Machine Learning and AI we can create intelligent search prototypes in just a few weeks.

Canon of the Netherlands apps coming soon!

Canon of the Netherlands apps coming soon!

The Committee on the Development of the Dutch Canon developed the Canon of the Netherlands in 2007. BSL developed the EnToen app a few years later, and since its launch in 2013, it has been a top-rated school app. In 2020, a new Canon Committee updated the Canon. We’re now busy working on new Canon Apps, with a modern look, and using the latest technical know-how.

BSL delivers a new Pulse importer using the Forrester API

BSL delivers a new Pulse importer using the Forrester API

We developed our “Pulse” Business Intelligence Software for PwC. It’s a global service, maintained and supported by BSL. Pulse imports thousands of documents daily from commercial content providers and website feeds, delivering personal briefings to PwC subscribers throughout the PwC organisation. At the request of PwC, we recently created a new importer for Forrester using their API.

Outsourcing, retainers and long-term development partnerships

Outsourcing, retainers and long-term development partnerships

It’s not always straightforward for even large companies to create cutting edge development teams, as their core business may not be related to IT. Moreover, even when IT is a significant part of their business, there is frequently a wide gap between delivering core services and innovating with new technologies. BSL offers development services that can help fill the gap.

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