Thursday, September 08, 2011

Really Getting into Drupal 7 .. upgrade from Drupal 5

Drupal 7 came out in January of this year, but I've only been dipping my toes before now. I ordered the new version of Pro Drupal Development and scanned for the interesting bits, and have created four new relatively simple D7 sites so far, even including some quick themeing.

But as of yesterday, I've finally started to climb the D7 learning curve, with a long delayed project to upgrade The Big Guide to Living and Working Overseas.

Working Overseas is my longest running project - I started it with a custom CMS while working at a previous employer. After leaving to work on my own (that's another story) and turning entirely to Drupal, Jean-Marc found me and I've been working with him ever since. Early on, I insisted he let me convert the site to Drupal and though he wasn't convinced at the time, he's been continually delighted ever since. He appreciates all of Drupal's many fine qualities and particularly its flexibility for all the custom stuff he wants, but even more - using Drupal is a sales bonus for him since he sells to universities and they all use Drupal.

So his site has now been ticking along since October 2007 in Drupal 5, undergoing a new theme in 2009, and continual new features implemented with a grab-bag of contributed and custom modules. In other words, a perfect nightmare for an upgrade.

But being optimistic and hopeful like Jack Layton, I brashly suggested we skip D6 and upgrade straight to D7. My thinking was that about half the process of an upgrade is the fiddly bits that you have to chase down manually, so it would only be 50% more work to upgrade to D7 than D6, roughly. Ha ha, you're thinking....

But there's more -- I also put him in contact with Thomas Cheng who I'd worked with as a designer, and he was convinced to simplify a bunch of his site and features, and even to do a redesign. So the D7 upgrade is a good idea because it provides all kinds of front end goodness like useability and accessibility bits and HTML5 support and better themeing tools. And since I don't have to upgrade all the customizations, it's not so bad, I'm thinking.

So, how does the story end? Stay tuned.