Introduction to Drupal 8
Drupal 8, the newest version of the Drupal Content Management System (CMS), was officially released on November 19, 2015. It boasts an impressive list of new features, most notably multilingual support, responsive / mobile first design, and enhanced content authoring tools. In a previous blog post, we explored whether Drupal 8 was ready for the limelight, and now let's take a look at Drupal 8's adoption and timeline for its future.
Drupal 8 Adoption
"How's Drupal 8 Doing?" is a question that gets asked frequently online. Particularly now that Drupal 8 has been officially released for seven months and migration decisions need to be made. Dries Buytaert, founder of the Drupal CMS, posted some interesting statistics. In the first four months after its release, Drupal 8 had over 60,000 sites reporting to Drupal.org, which was twice as much as the 30,000 sites four months after the release of Drupal 7.
At first this appears incredible, though some have brought up the fact that Drupal has a lot more users now and that this number is actually a smaller percentage of the Drupal user base, indicating that Drupal 8 adoption is slightly slower than its older sibling.
Below is a graph from Drupal.org showing the number of different Drupal site versions over time:
The reason for Drupal 8's slower adoption is understandable. A lot of the core of Drupal has changed in version 8, which is one of the most ambitious redesigns of Drupal yet. The core is now based on an entirely different framework call Symfony, a powerful and robust object oriented platform. It will take developers time to relearn Drupal development on this new platform, so modules that users know and love will take longer to port to Drupal 8. It took Drupal 7 about nine months to really take off and it will be interesting to see if Drupal 8 follows the same pattern.
Currently at version 8.1.3, Drupal 8 developers are quickly adding functionality from beloved Drupal 7 modules.
Drupal 6: End-of-Life and Upgrading
On February 24, support for Drupal 6 officially ended. What this essentially means is that no more security fixes will be offered, leaving Drupal 6 sites vulnerable to attacks unless professionals that offer paid support are hired. As can been seen on the Drupal version usage graph above, Drupal 6 has been on the decline slowly since 2013. Companies running Drupal 6 are deciding whether to upgrade to Drupal 7 or Drupal 8. The decision is complex because of where Drupal 8 is in its development cycle, but here are a few tips to finding the right version.
Drupal 8 is the Future
When weighing the pro's and con's between Drupal 7 vs Drupal 8, it's not much of a contest. Whenever possible you should be using Drupal 8 as that is the forward-looking solution, and you'll save yourself from having to go through an upgrade soon. Drupal 8 sites can always be added to as more of the modules port. If you know your site is going to be complex with a lot of modules and custom code, consider launching a site with what's available now and then revisiting it in 6 months to see if any new Drupal 8 tools have been rolled out which you could take advantage of.
Dries stats: http://buytaert.net/how-is-drupal-8-doing
D6 paid support: https://www.drupal.org/project/d6lts