Preparing Your Site for Drupal 8

Drupal 8 is now well into its ‘Polish Phase,’ meaning its release is imminent. Some developers have had a chance to have some hands-on experience with D8, and initial reports are positive – many are praising the bundling of popular modules and the new, streamlined UI. However, since Drupal 8 is still fairly rough around the edges and can be a bit unstable, most of us are just going to have to wait until sometime in the Fall before we play with it. But, even if you aren’t one of those who wants to wrestle with a pre-polished version of D8, there are things you can do now to make sure your site is ready when the final version does launch.

Update and Patch

Optimally, you’ll have updated and upgraded your version of Drupal every time they came out with a new patch, but we don’t live in a perfect world and, sometimes, basic maintenance can slip your mind. If you haven’t updated in a while, look at the time left until D8 launches as an opportunity and make sure your version of D7 is the latest one available. You are going to need the latest version of D7 to upgrade successfully anyway, so why wait until launch day to do something that needs to be done? Plus, an updated, patched site is a lot more secure, so really it is in your best interest to keep everything current.

Check Your Modules

Modules are easily one of the best features in Drupal, but developers can occasionally go overboard when it comes to installing new modules. Chances are good that, at some point, you installed a module that you wound up not using. If any of these types of modules are sitting around your site, delete them. Then take a look at the modules you do use – which of these haven’t upgraded in a while? Does the project page even say they are actively maintained? Or has the developer moved on? If they have, you can probably bet that there is another module better suited to the task your old one performed, so check around and see there are any options that are a bit more active. The active ones are, after all, going to be the modules that actually release a D8 version.

Review Your Site and Your Coding

There are some websites that are constantly being audited by a team of developers to ensure that every page is needed, every line of code is perfect, and any dead-weight is cast off – however, for smaller businesses and sites, that usually isn’t the case. You make do with what you have, which means you may have kept up some rarely used portions of your site. And, unless you knew how to code from the very beginning, some of your earlier codes might look or act a little off. Now is a great time to go through your site and statistics and try to streamline your design. What are people using? What pages don’t get very much activity? Are they worth saving? Then, review any custom coding and make sure it follows programming standards and Drupal’s API, otherwise the upgrade could get a bit messy.

Conclusion

Though Fall 2013 is pretty imprecise in terms of a release date, Drupal will lauch a polished version of D8 pretty soon. And, with all of the upgrades team Drupal have made, and the time they put into it, D8 should be one of the best versions of Drupal yet. So it makes sense to prepare your site early so that, when it is finally handed down, you can install it immediately and see what, exactly, has been done to one of our favorite content management systems. It could take a bit of time to get your site up to snuff, but that initial dedication will be worth it when you’re one of first to avail of Drupal 8.