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Drupal 7 released – but should you upgrade?

06 January 2011, Mike Williams

Version 7 of the popular PHP-based content management system Drupal has been released, and it’s packed with tempting new features.

The Drupal Association claim that the platform is “now easier to use than ever before”, for instance, thanks to a host of usability improvements: simpler installation, more intelligent default settings, and a revamped user interface that provides easier access to common tasks.

A new database abstraction layer means Drupal can now make use of many databases, including Microsoft SQL Server, MongoDB, Oracle, MySQL, PostgreSQL, and SQLite.

Improved image handling out of the box means you can resize, crop and otherwise process images without needing an add-on.

You’re able to create custom data item fields for any content type.  Performance improvements, including a new caching architecture, ensure your site will work more quickly.  And an integrated automatic testing environment is constantly checking every patch and update to ensure everything’s working smoothly.

So is it time to upgrade? Perhaps not just yet.  Drupal 7 may be out, but many of its modules either aren’t yet compatible with the new version, or are only very early versions and aren’t quite ready for prime time.  We’d recommend waiting for a few days before you upgrade any production system, just to give the developers time to catch up. Or you can check the compatibility of particular modules on Drupal’s official “Download & Extend” search engine.

There is one possible exception, though: the release of Drupal 7 means that support for Drupal 5 has now been discontinued. If you’ve been running this now obsolete version then it’s a good idea to upgrade just as soon as you can.  Keep in mind that the system requirements have changed considerably, though, so check out the official requirements page to see what other changes you may need to make before installing Drupal 7.

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