How to migrate Drupal 6 websites to Drupal 8

If you need to upgrade/migrate a Drupal 6 website to Drupal 8, there’s good news and there’s bad news. The good news is that many of the basic features of your Drupal 6 website will migrate properly to Drupal 8. The bad news is that many features won’t migrate properly, and if you like your current website theme, well, it will have to be completely rewritten.

Lessons learned in migrating from Drupal 6 to Drupal 8

In the case of one my Drupal 6 websites, I wrote my How to migrate Drupal 6 to Drupal 8 notes to try to help other Drupal users and web developers. Here’s the short story I learned during that migration process:

  • Many/most Drupal 6 custom modules won’t migrate to Drupal 8
  • Meta descriptions don’t port
  • Some/most views won’t migrate
  • Drupal 8 emits meta  tags that can harm your website’s SEO
  • At the time of this writing (June, 2016) there are serious problems with the “Full HTML” format migration
  • I had over 1,000 old photos, and I had to write PHP/MySQL scripts to port them manually
  • There are many langcode problems that had to be handled manually
  • The Metatag module is very different than the Drupal 6 Nodewords module
  • If you like to show “similar entries” for your blog posts (i.e., this other article is similar to the one you’re reading), the Similar By Terms module works, but it can be hard to understand how to make it work
  • Dozens of “migration” database tables are not removed after the migration, which clutters up your database
  • Your theme and any custom theme behavior will need to be rewritten

I make these notes not to scare you off, but to let you know that migrating a Drupal 6 website to Drupal 8 isn’t an overnight process. Re-implementing the theme alone could take several days. In my case it took about three weeks to migrate my first Drupal 6 website, and now I can probably do the same thing in a few days (excluding the Drupal 8 theming part).

I don’t write this to sell my Drupal services. I’m currently going through some medical treatments, so I can’t really help you, other than point you to my notes. The three main articles/tutorials I have written are:

Live from Boulder, Colorado

There’s much more that you need to know to migrate a Drupal 6 website to Drupal 8, but hopefully those tutorials will be a good start. Other than that, all I can say is that reporting live from Boulder, Colorado, I wish you good luck in your migration!