May 28, 2024

Sustaining Drupal 7: HeroDevs' Support for D7 Modules

Navigating Challenges and Providing Solutions
Sustaining Drupal 7: HeroDevs' Support for D7 Modules

Allison Vorthmann is a platform engineer at HeroDevs, with over five years of experience in the tech industry. With a strong foundation in PHP and a profound enthusiasm for front-end development, Allison thrives on crafting seamless user experiences. Her primary focus lies in Drupal, where she spearheads the HeroDevs' Drupal 7 Never-ending Support product development. As an active member of the Drupal open-source community, she collaborates with fellow Drupal professionals to find optimal solutions for users still reliant on Drupal 7 for their sites.

As a platform engineer, the challenge of providing Never-Ending Support (NES) for Drupal 7 (D7) has been quite the journey. It's not just about overcoming technical hurdles; it's about fulfilling a critical need within the tech community.

There was plenty of skepticism when we first proposed supporting D7 after end-of-life (EOL). Many questioned why we would invest in what's seen as outdated technology. But for us, the answer was clear: not everyone can or wants to abandon D7 just yet.

Our commitment extends beyond merely keeping software running. It's about ensuring security, compatibility, and peace of mind for those still relying on D7. Through D7 NES, we aim to empower users with the freedom to migrate or upgrade on their terms without the pressure of obsolescence.

Why are we doing this?

Through attending conferences and speaking with users and agencies, doubts surfaced regarding our initiative, questioning why we were investing in a supposedly fading platform. 

However, it's important to acknowledge that migration isn't always feasible or desirable for everyone, especially considering that over 300,000 sites report still being on D7 as of today. Our goal is to ensure that nobody feels trapped on unsupported software by providing a secure solution until they're ready to move forward.

When we first decided to support D7, it felt daunting – especially considering its complexity compared to our previous work with various open-source frameworks. With well over 10,000 modules, we wanted to guarantee that we did our due diligence and could commit to the HeroDevs standard of support for as many as possible, which is no small feat. 

However, we were constantly reassured by our decision to provide a D7 NES product when we would have conversations with users in the community. We faced a familiar story that users of other deprecated technologies we support shared: they feel stuck, have nowhere to turn, and can't commit to a migration. That is why we at HeroDevs decided to step in. 

Addressing the Challenges

As we navigate through the approaching EOL for D7 and the gradual withdrawal of module support by the Drupal Security Team, we're actively strategizing to tackle these challenges head-on, all while upholding our dedication to service and reliability.

Ensuring never-ending support isn't just a promise; it's backed by extensive research to ensure we deliver on our commitments. 

Every time we hit a roadblock, our product strengthened, and we became more prepared. We encountered challenges such as modules reliant on closed-source repositories, unsupported modules, or those with closed licenses. However, we’ve identified a solution to each of these challenges – whether through taking on the work ourselves or having alternatives for our customers.

As we work towards releasing our D7 NES product, flexibility is crucial. There's no one-size-fits-all approach to setting up a D7 site, so we've had to adapt to meet our customers' diverse needs. From using Composer to supporting Drush and creating a custom HeroDevs module to help with installation, we've remained agile to accommodate our users.

Reflecting on the Journey

This journey has been a learning experience, emphasizing the importance of community partnerships and ensuring considerations are made for the broader Drupal ecosystem with every decision we make. At HeroDevs, we're committed to supporting our commercial products while fostering a positive relationship with the Drupal community.

Our involvement in the community includes collaborating closely with maintainers to enhance our D7 NES product, supporting camps, and participating as speakers at conferences. 

I've also had the privilege of joining the D7Security group, which is dedicated to addressing security vulnerabilities in modules no longer supported by the official Drupal Security team. This community of committed maintainers and developers actively strives to protect D7 sites. Being part of this group has provided invaluable insights into users' challenges. I look forward to ongoing collaboration and the exciting opportunities it presents.

What is Drupal 7 Core NES?

HeroDevs' Drupal Core NES is built on the latest version of D7, including core modules and four supported themes. 

Our Core NES support includes routine security scanning and browser compatibility testing. We mimic the high-security standards the Drupal Security team has set. In the event of a vulnerability, we leverage the Drupal Risk Calculator to evaluate the issue, adhering to our SLA that outlines our process. This enables us to promptly initiate an internal protocol for remediation, ensuring a resolution. 

Looking Ahead

Approaching the launch of our trial product fills me with excitement for the path ahead. 

I am confident in the thorough work and research I've conducted alongside my colleagues to provide D7 support. Our commitment to this initiative remains strong, driven by our conviction in its importance. With an exceptional team and valuable resources available to us, I am confident that we can tackle any challenge that comes our way.

. . .
About HeroDevs

HeroDevs partners with open-source authors to offer comprehensive solutions for sunsetted open-source software. Our Never-Ending Support products ensure businesses remain secure and compliant, even as their depended-upon open-source packages reach end-of-life. Alongside this, our elite team of software engineers and architects provides expert consulting and engineering services, assisting clients in migrating from deprecated packages and modernizing their technology stacks.

Article Summary
HeroDevs leads in extending Drupal 7 module support post-EOL, ensuring security and continuity for users unable to migrate.
Allison Vorthmann
Platform Engineer
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