Drupal Express (DX) to Drupal 8 Upgrade/Migration Strategies

Drupal Version

Many Georgia Tech websites have been built using Drupal Express (DX), which is a custom version of Drupal 7 that allows you to create a website with little technical or design expertise. The ready-made site comes with built in features and tools like news and events listings, and mobile optimization.

For several years, the Office of Information Technology has offered Drupal Express as an option when requesting a new web hosting account.  Selecting this option causes Drupal Express to be pre-installed in the account so that the unit can start using the site almost immediately without having to do any technical work on the back end of the site.

Unfortunately, the people who helped to create Drupal Express no longer work in Georgia Tech's Institute Communications Office, so there has been no planning at this time for any kind of automated upgrade or migration path for Drupal Express sites. Even if anyone were to work on such a path, the high level of customization in Drupal Express's page layouts and other tools coupled with the major changes in Drupal 8's underlying architecture would make an automated upgrade of a Drupal Express site very difficult if not impossible.

With this in mind, owners of Drupal Express sites should review the guidelines and tips below for planning a manual site migration from Drupal Express to Drupal 8:

  • Drupal Express sites may still benefit from using the Drupal Migrate tool to at least bring over their Basic Page content. Bear in mind that some amount of clean-up will be necessary after using Migrate, but the clean-up may be easier than cutting and pasting a lot of Basic pages into your new site.

    Kevin Pittman has posted a detailed Drupal 8 Migration guide that describes how to use the Migrate tool.

  • Vertical, Horizontal, and Multipurpose page types are not expected to be ported to Drupal 8 and will not be copied over by the Drupal Migrate tool. Such pages will have to be completely rebuilt in Drupal 8. Alternative page layout systems you should consider include:

    • Layout Builder - Available in Drupal 8.7, but still has bugs and limitations; expected to be more usable in Drupal 8.8 or 8.9.  Layout Builder will be the foundation of page layout for the official Georgia Tech Drupal 8 web theme system being released in early 2020 by Institute Communications, so expect to use it with any site that needs the official theme.

    • Paragraphs - A solid product for smaller sites that do not need the official Georgia Tech theme.

    • Panels and Panelizer - For really advanced developers only

  • Other components included in Drupal Express may not be available for Drupal 8 or may have been superseded by new components. A breakdown of known Drupal Express components and their status is posted below.

In case you are enlisting the help of someone with technical developer skills who would like to know more about the make-up of Drupal Express and what to expect when migrating a Drupal Express site to Drupal 8, below is the full list of components included in Drupal Express (excluding minor ones no longer needed in Drupal 8) and their known Drupal 8 status.

Please note that just because a module has a production version, this does not mean that it works the same as it did in Drupal 7 or that it supports all of the features in the Drupal 7 version.  Please read the documentation for each module to see what has changed.

Custom Drupal Express components and their Drupal 8 status
(Last Updated January 30th, 2020)
Component Name Available
Drupal 8?
Georgia Tech Web Theme In Testing

A community built version of the GT 3 beta theme implementation is available.

An official  Institute Communications "release candidate" theme was released in early October 2018 for more seasoned developers to begin testing.

GT Superblocks No No port planned or expected of this custom module
GT Editor No No port planned or expected of this custom module, but the built-in CKEditor provides much of the same functionality and can be customized as needed
GT Login No No port planned or expected of this custom module, but the CAS module can be installed to provide GT Account Username based authentication.  CAS configuration instructions are available.
GT Tools In Testing The official Drupal 8 Georgia Tech theme has it's own required "GT Tools" module that provides support for some of the theme's features.
HG Reader Planned A "release candidate" port of the official Hg Mercury was released in early fall 2018.
JWFilter Superseded JWFilter was for the old OIT DMI media repository that is no longer available.  Please use the Ivan Allen College's Support for oEmbed module for embedding videos from the new Georgia Tech MediaSpace repository
Contrib (Third Party) Drupal Express components and their Drupal 8 status
(Last Updated January 30th 2020)
Component Name Available
Drupal 8?
Admin Menu Superseded Use Admin Toolbar
Admin Views In Drupal 8 Core  
Block Reference Superseded Use the built in Entity Reference field
CKEditor In Drupal 8 Core  
CTools Production Not required by any previous Drupal Express modules in Drupal 8
Custom Search Beta From the Custom Search project page: "The 8.x-1.0-beta branch is usable, and instead of overriding the default search block like it did with D6/7, it provides its own block(s)". Not recommended for use (not being updated by maintainer)
Date In Drupal 8 Core  
Diff Production See the Diff project page ; Works, but may not be as full-featured as Drupal 7 version
Field Group Production See the Field Group project page ; (Only minimally maintained)
Google Analytics Production See the Google Analytics project page
IMCE Production See the IMCE project page
IMCE MkDir Superseded Now part of the main IMCE module in Drupal 8
Libraries Development Not required by any previous Drupal Express modules in Drupal 8
Link In Drupal 8 Core  
LinkIt Production See the LinkIt project page
Menu Block Production See the Menu Block project page
Module Filter Production See the Module Filter project page
Nodeblock Superseded Create a custom block type in Drupal 8 and add an Entity Reference field configured to reference node content
Override Node Options Production See the Override Node Options project page
Pathauto Production See the Pathauto project page
Pathologic No  
Revisioning In Drupal 8 Core Replaced by the combination of Workflows and Content Moderation.
Token Production See the Token project page
Transliteration No A filename transliteration patch for Drupal 8 core is available if you want to have filenames transliterated, but that patch hasn't been committed to production core yet.  It has been rolled into a Transliteration Filenames module.
Video Embed Field Production See the Video Embed Field project page
View Unpublished Alpha See the View Unpublished project page ; Not recommended for use (not being updated by maintainer)  Note: if you're really in need of this functionality, contact Kevin Pittman - he has a method for doing this that works, but requires a little setup to get working.
Views In Drupal 8 Core Existing views do not migrate to Drupal 8, but can be recreated by hand
Views Bulk Operations Production See the Views Bulk Operations project page
WYSIWYG Filter In Drupal 8 Core