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Informative commentary on the web industry from the experts at Itomic.

February 12, 2016

Drupal 6 no longer officially supported from 24 Feb 2016. Your choices.

By Ross Gerring

It’s been standard Drupal policy for some time that only the current and the previous major versions are officially supported, at least as far as core security updates are concerned.

Drupal 8 was released in late 2015, and the official end-of-life date for Drupal 6 sites was set at 24 Feb 2016.

So as an owner of a Drupal 6 site, what to do?

Option 1: Do Nothing

Your Drupal 6 site is not going to collapse in a heap on 25 Feb 2016. As at 31 Jan 2016 you’re still in very good company, with over 100,000 sites worldwide still using Drupal 6, see: https://www.drupal.org/project/usage/drupal.

Although support might no longer be “official”, there will still be a great deal of unofficial support going on for Drupal 6 sites for some time to come. That said, especially where security updates are concerned, such support will likely take longer to deliver, and therefore be more expensive in terms of labour. This is because Drupal 6 developers are no longer going to be given free security updates through official channels, and therefore will have to work on patches for themselves, which may or may not get shared with the wider Drupal community.

Is your Drupal 6 website hosted by a reputable, good quality hosting provider? In the event that your Drupal 6 site gets hacked, a common sign is that it starts sending out spam. A good quality hosting provider will have the appropriate security controls and monitoring in place to ensure that malicious activity is detected and minimised quickly. Also, a good quality hosting provider will have multiple backups of your site in the event that your site needs to be restored.

How security sensitive is your website? Does it contain financial, personal, or otherwise confidential (e.g. client) information? If it does, then you should be more concerned about the reducing security profile of your Drupal 6 site.

How concerned are you that your Drupal 6 website should be upgradeable to play nicely with the latest industry standards and technologies, such as HTML5, mobile-friendly (“responsive”), web services, etc? The chances are the Drupal 6 will be either difficult (= expensive) or effectively impossible to upgrade. That’s nothing to do with the ending of official support. It’s all to do with the fact many of today’s standards and technologies weren’t even dreamt of when the core of Drupal 6 was being architectured. And compatible modules to extend the features and functionality of Drupal 6 will only take you so far.

Option 2: Rebuild your site in Drupal 8 (or Drupal 7, or another CMS)

If you have the budget, there’s absolutely no doubt that a rebuild of your site is highly recommended. You can go for an “as is” rebuild, i.e. the same as your current Drupal 6 site, which will keep costs down. Or you can take the opportunity to review every aspect of your current site (design, mobile-friendliness, functionality, content, etc.) with a view to making your next site a significant improvement over your current site.

Notice we deliberately used the work “rebuild” instead of “upgrade” or “migration”. The brutal reality is that Drupal, in common with many other CMS, doesn’t offer a smooth, quick, comprehensive upgrade path between major versions (5, 6, 7, etc.). There are valid reasons for this that are beyond the scope of this article, but the main reason is that the major versions are so significantly re-architectured that, unless your site is a really simple brochure site, all the features and functions will not naturally map from version 6 to version 7/8. Yes, there are Drupal modules and documentation that can assist with moving (primarily) content from Drupal 6 to Drupal 7 or 8… but moving content is typically only a small % of the overall effort.

As stable, popular and supported as Drupal 7 is, Drupal 8 truly is a major leap forward in all areas, so you really want to target Drupal 8 first for your new site. The only, and rapidly diminishing, reason why you might still consider rebuilding your Drupal 6 site in Drupal 7 is if Drupal 8 doesn’t (yet) include some critical functionality that your new site must have.

Of course Drupal isn’t the answer to all the world’s CMS needs. Although generally not considered to be as enterprise-grade as Drupal, WordPress is the world’s most popular CMS. So if your site doesn’t have sophisticated enterprise-grade requirements, you shouldn’t completely rule out other CMS. Do your own research (Google is your friend!), and/or chat with your favourite website development person or agency about this.

Further reading

What Happens if You Keep Using Unsupported Software? (OSTraining)
Drupal 6 end-of-life announcement (Drupal.org)


December 8, 2015

Itomic Christmas and New Year break 2015

All Itomic offices will be closed from Friday 18/12/2015 through to Monday 04/01/2016.

Our skeleton team on standby during this period for any urgent support matters, please contact support@itomic.com.au to get in touch. We thank you for your support over 2015 and look forward to an amazing 2016!

Itomic Christmas


July 1, 2015

Have you checked your MailChimp lately? – PSA

By Izumi Mitsui

As MailChimp continues to evolve for the better there’s been a recent update with their API  (MailChimp API V3.0 Release)

Version 3.0 of the API has been through months of development and internal testing. We’ve had it in public beta for 2 months. With this launch, the API is stable enough that applications and integrations can start offering v3.0 functionality to their users.

In light of this, make sure you test any signup forms on your website linked to your MailChimp account to ensure it’s working correctly.

If you notice anything not quite right, let us know and we will get a resolve for you ASAP.


May 14, 2015

Mobile Responsive – Why bother?

By Izumi Mitsui
Most agencies/web developers will incur additional costs to develop a mobile responsive website.
The responsive element will ensure your website will adjust itself to multiple screen sizes across all devices and introduce user-friendly features such as ‘touch friendly’ navigation.

 

Is it worth the extra cost? Especially if you’re the website admin that only needs to access your website from the office desktop, why would you bother?

 

Here are 2 compelling reasons:

 

  1. Numbers don’t lie.
    Ever since early 2014 the mobile figures have overtaken the desktop usage for website access globally.Mobile friendly itomic
    The trend isn’t slowing down anytime soon, the increased advancements in technology allows more people access to affordable smart-devices.
     
    While you may not have a need to access your website on your portable device, it’s not about you! Your website is for your users/customers first and foremost, so it’s only wise to make  sure its easily accessible for all.
  2. Mobilegeddon has hit and gone
    On April 21st, 2015 Google’s ‘Mobile Friendly Update’ was introduced. (deemed as ‘Mobilegeddon’ by some)
    This update was simple: Google will give favour over to websites that are responsive or have a mobile friendly page over those that don’t.

    Why? Because mobile friendly pages are easy to read, access and increase the chances of the user finding what they’re after swiftly (which is the whole goal of Google).

 

Take away (for the note takers):

In 2015, mobile responsiveness should be a mandatory term with web development.
If your website is non-responsive we encourage you to take action and stay ahead of the curve.
Unsure if your website is responsive? Take the mobile friendly test 
Additional help available here.

April 22, 2015

Toughen Up WordPress! [4.1.2 is out]

By Izumi Mitsui

WordPress 4.1.2 has been released as of 21/04/15.
It’s an update heavily focused on security features of the core platform, not since version 4.0.1 has WordPress seen so much armour added to the security front.

Deemed ‘critical’ it is recommended that all websites be updated to the latest version to maximise security and ensure optimal performance.

“This is a critical security release for all previous versions and we strongly encourage you to update your sites immediately.”
(Source: https://wordpress.org/news/2015/04/wordpress-4-1-2/)

If you’re an Itomican and already on board our active support agreement, there is nothing you need to do – kick your feet up and go on with your day!

However if you’re unsure, or would like to find out more about our service to keep on top of your WordPress Security, let us know by filling out the form below or give us a call. Our team is geared up and ready to assist!