Community Briefing - Discussion on the future of Drupal 7

2024-05-07 05:27
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Hey there Civiland!

I wanted to get in touch to send some information about an important (and hopefully exciting!) upcoming discussion we are planning to host around the future of the CiviCRM’s Drupal 7 integration. 

Read on to find out more and how to sign up for the briefing sessions next week on Wednesday 15th May!

The background:

As you may already know CiviCRM is designed as a plugin or module for many of the largest open source content management systems available today. This includes Drupal, Backdrop, Wordpress and Joomla. As such, in order to use CiviCRM you need to install it on one of these frameworks to get started*.

*It’s probably also worth mentioning that there is also some exciting work to have CiviCRM “Standalone” which is under active development.

According to the latest CiviCRM stats, over 40% of CiviCRM sites currently use Drupal 7 as their CMS framework. It has a rich ecosystem of module integrations and allows CiviCRM users and developers to build rich integrated websites and CRM experiences for nonprofit organisations.

Drupal 7 is robust, powerful and has been the backbone of the CiviCRM community for many years, but, as many of you are probably aware, Drupal 7 is approaching its official “End of Life” date on January 5th of next year. This means that from that date the Drupal Association will no longer publish security updates for the platform and your site may become vulnerable.

Oh no! What should I do?

Whilst this upcoming end of life date sounds ominous, if you are on Drupal 7, you do have options and there is still plenty of time to plan your way ahead. These include:

  1. Migrate to Drupal 10
  2. Upgrade to Backdrop CMS
  3. Migrate to another CMS Framework i.e. Wordpress or Joomla
  4. 🚀NEW🚀 Drupal 7 Never Ending Support “NES” for CiviCRM
  5. Wait for CiviCRM standalone

1. Migrate to Drupal 10!

The first and most obvious option that you may want to consider for your update is to move to the latest and greatest version of Drupal, which at the time of writing is Drupal 10 (Drupal 11 will be released sometime in 2024).

Drupal 10 is an extremely powerful CMS, which builds on the conceptual framework of Drupal 7 and leverages a completely new codebase in order to deliver performance and scalability improvements.

All your existing CiviCRM integrations are available including Drupal webforms, views and rules. 

As mentioned above however Drupal 10 is a completely new codebase to Drupal 7 and as such you should expect that little if any of your existing site's code will be possible to migrate across. That means that all your existing themes, views, custom modules will need to be rewritten (if you have them!). That said, there are a number of powerful tools to help with the migration of content.

Also keep in mind that Drupal moves fast and you can expect to have bi-annual upgrades required to keep your site up to date with the latest version of Drupal going forward.

Moving to Drupal 10 could perhaps be thought of as the gold standard for moving forward if you want to stay with the Drupal framework.

2. Upgrade to Backdrop CMS

The second option you can explore is to “update” to Backdrop CMS. Backdrop CMS is a “fork” of Drupal 7, built and managed by a number of the key engineers who worked on the Drupal 7 project itself. But what do we mean by “fork”? A fork means that Backdrop itself is based on the same code as Drupal 7 itself. It was “forked” (much like a fork in the road) a few years ago and has been developed ever since. As a fork it has a shared history and heritage with Drupal 7, making it more compatible and interoperable with existing Drupal 7 functionalities.

This was done as Backdrop was designed specifically to be an upgrade path for sites on Drupal 7 who want to avoid the potential costly migration to Drupal 10 or otherwise. CiviCRM has been integrated with Backdrop for many years and again all your favourite integrations are available including webforms, views and rules. 

As a “fork” of Drupal 7, Backdrop CMS is technically very close to Drupal 7. This means that (as opposed to say a move to Drupal 10), you could consider this more of a large “update” than a migration. Your existing database can be imported into a Backdrop site to get going, reducing a lot of the complexity involved in the work. You can find instructions here.

That said, there is still some development work to do in order to migrate to Backdrop and this is not a “turnkey” exercise. 

If you have a custom theme, this will need to be rewritten for Backdrop as there are different standards, and you will need to check that there are Backdrop versions of the Drupal 7 modules you are using. If not then it’s a small amount of work to make them ready for Backdrop.

All in all, migrating to Backdrop is a great option for CiviCRM sites for users who value an incremental change with lower risk and complexity.

3. Migrate to another CMS Framework i.e. WordPress or Joomla

Time to try something different?

CiviCRM can also be installed on a number of other CMS frameworks. The right choice for you will depend on your exact needs and use case but there are a huge number of powerful integrations also available on the WordPress and Joomla platforms.

If you do go down this route of course you would be looking at building a new website, but your CiviCRM database itself can be migrated to the new site. There is a useful guide for migrating to WordPress below:

Migrate to WordPress

Keep in mind, however, that Drupal specific functionality, such as webforms, views, rules etc, would need to be rebuilt.

4. 🚀NEW🚀 Drupal 7 Never Ending Support “NES” for CiviCRM

One of the items we’re most excited to announce is the new option of a Drupal 7 Never Ending Support (NES) for CiviCRM package for sites. 

In order to offer this, Compuco and the CiviCRM core team will be partnering with HeroDevs, a Drupal gold partner and one of the official partners of the Drupal Association for extended support for Drupal 7. HeroDevs offer extended support for many other open source projects that have reached end of life and on this project they are working directly with active Drupal core contributors and Drupal 7 maintainers. These are experts in Drupal 7 and have shaped and built the platform.

With this package, you will be able to continue to run your CiviCRM sites with a Drupal 7 framework for many years to come, safe in the knowledge that they will be compatible and secure.

What is it?

For a low cost subscription fee (which has been specially negotiated at a discount for the CiviCRM community), Drupal 7 “NES” for CiviCRM will provide a download of Drupal 7 after the end of life date, with exactly the same level of security service currently offered by the Drupal 7 community. Drupal 7 NES for CiviCRM will also cover over 13,000 of the active Drupal modules in use in the community as well.

The CiviCRM team will also keep a maintained version of CiviCRM compatible with these updates, to keep compatibility from both sides.

With a subscription, you will be able to access and download this secure version of Drupal, Drupal modules and CiviCRM and apply it to your site in order to stay secure long after the end of life date.

One thing to keep in mind however is that like the available download of Drupal 7 from the Drupal website, the price does not include the installation of these updates to your CiviCRM site. You or your developers will have to, as you would do currently, apply this update to your site.

Use the discount code CIVID7NES (exclusively available on!) and you’ll also be able to claim a 5% discount off your first subscription when ordering through Compuco. More details are available over on our website!

This is certainly a great option for organisations who are happy with their Drupal 7 site and don’t want to or are not in a position to make a big financial commitment in the immediate future, or just need a bit more time to plan.

5. Wait for CiviCRM standalone

One of the other existing projects that are in the Pipeline at the moment is CiviCRM “standalone”.

Whilst one of the great advantages of CiviCRM is the powerful CMS integrations, there are also some downsides of an architecture that requires a CMS in order to deploy and use CiviCRM, not least that you may already have a CMS, and by having the two code bases you are increasing some of the complexity of managing a CRM.

That's where standalone comes in. By having a standalone version of CiviCRM you can reduce the complexity of your deployment and let CiviCRM do what it does best - act as a CRM. You can still integrate your site and CRM through CiviCRM’s comprehensive APIs, but you can upgrade your CRM independently of your CMS, reducing complexity.

There are more details of CiviCRM standalone here and we’ll be sharing more news as this exciting project moves forward.

Community Briefings:

To answer any questions you may have, we’re inviting everyone to join us for a set of Community Briefings on Wednesday May 15th

We’ll have two 30-minute sessions where we’ll be explaining the options above and answering any questions people might have.

We’ll be running 2 sessions so hopefully as many of you can join as possible:

If you can’t make either of these times, as always we’ll be sharing a recording of one of the sessions.

Get in touch today

If you’d like to register your interest in Drupal 7 NES for CiviCRM before the briefing and would like to discuss it further, please fill out this enquiry form or feel free to get in touch with us at


Thanks for the list of options here. I wonder though about your claim "For a low cost subscription fee" for your "NES" option, and who you imagine your audience is. I believe it's fairly safe to say that a large majority of CiviCRM users pay less than US$100/month for their hosting, and that this service might well be more than say, US$200/month, which I doubt would be "low cost" to any other than fairly well-funded users. Can you be more specific about what low cost might end up being, even a ballpark? For those trying to make a decision now, it would only be fair to them to make it clear.

Hi Alan - I'm at Drupalcon and so are HeroDevs, so I'll ask them tomorrow :) Also of interest is the big announcement (Starshot - a major push to make Drupal easy to install and use - largely finishing up some of the Easy Out of the Box, Project Browser and AutoUpdate initiatives, but with a real full on effort to get it done quickly -- like before the D7 EOL). I was also really impressed by a session from Drupalcon Florida by Rod Martin.

It's also worth noting that many of the Drupal 7 instances which contain CiviCRM are actually pretty straightforward to migrate to D10. For simple instances where the main functionality is delivered by CiviCRM rather than some custom Drupal workflows (like a complex members portal), we're finding the 7->10 migration really simple now and usually a few days work. Themes are pretty recyclable, webforms largely work (though need testing) and views generally migrate except where they contain Civi data. I'd be wondering whether the sites that are more problematic to migrate will have all the modules they need covered in NES.

The quotes we got from HeroDevs, who sound like a really great outfit, were order of magnitudes greater than nominal sums that AlanDixon mentioned above. Not complaining as the value vs the cost of a complex migration is clear, and they guarantee support for ALL contrib Drupal modules! .Excited to find if there's any special pricing emerging for NGOs using Civi.

Thanks for the comments all. Lots of useful thoughts.

Absolutely @taylormadeapps - Herodevs are covering both Drupal core + over 13,000 modules as well which is great. The price is certainly affordable when compared to a migration, but of course if your migration is simple it's certainly worth exploring that first/also.

We're hoping that the Drupal 7 NES for CiviCRM is a good option for those who perhaps have invested a little more in their Drupal 7 website integration with CiviCRM, want some insurance if their migration is likely to take a long time, or simply want to get more value from their existing investment.

Unfortunately we can't publish Herodevs pricing as they've indicated to us that much like purchasing flights it's subject to increase closer to the end of life date (they are a commercial organisation after all), so we do suggest to get in touch now and we can provide a quote for comparison.

Okay, so based on @taylormadeapps experience, it might be more like at least $2000/month? Even a minimum number would be useful.

"Get more value form their existing investment" sounds good, though I'm not sure that language correctly captures the trade-off. I'm a fan of kicking the can down the road when you can, but I'd want to also caution anyone reading this about the "sunk cost fallacy".

Hi @alandixon the early bird pricing from HeroDevs for a single site works out about $12,000 in year 1, then $9,000 in subsequent years so a fair bit less than your $2,000/mo. They have said this will increase closer to the deadline.
However, for agencies, the incremental cost per site is $375 on top of that 12/9k so for 10 sites that would be down to $1575/year each in year 1 which does come down to the range of $100-200 per month although by then you'll be into issues around php 7.4 growing increasingly urgent if any modules require that. If you're not signed up already, those costs will rise. For budgetary purposes, I would add 20-30%.
We'll be adding a cost in the hundreds per year for our clients (still doing the final maths).