SimpleXMLElement errors in logs after php 7.61 update

Drupal Version

Per Kevin Pittman's insight posted on the GTDUG Team:

With Drupal 7.61, be aware that you're now likely to see a bunch of "SimpleXMLElement" errors on the Modules Update screen. This is caused whenever a module's project status data can't be retrieved. 

Causes

There are two cases that will have to be addressed:

  1. If you (or someone else) built a custom module and included a "project=" line in the .info file without also including a proper "project status url=" line as well (or, you have that line, but it doesn't point to a valid XML file)

  2. You are running any GT modules from Institute Communications (GT Tools, etc). Most instances of these are looking for the "project status url" at http://drupal.gatech.edu/, which we been redirecting to the new location of the repo, http://repo.drupal.gatech.edu/ ever since we upgraded the GT Drupal Users group site a couple years ago. Unfortunately, the updated code in Drupal 7.61 doesn't handle the redirect correctly any more.

Fixes

There is a quick, but behind-the-scenes fix for both problems:

  1. Edge case fix: For custom modules, remove the line "project=" and "project status url=" entries from the module's .info file unless you actually have a valid Drupal style repo set up with a valid project status XML file.

  2. Common fix: for all of the GT modules you are running (including Mercury Reader [hg_reader]), edit the .info file and change the "project status url" server from drupal.gatech.edu to repo.drupal.gatech.edu and save. Don't change anything else on that line -- just the server.

The upside is that the errors shouldn't interfere with running updates of regular third-party modules, but should any updates be pushed out for GT modules, you won't get them on your site until you manually patch your existing module as I described above.