The Great Migration

A handcart with two moving boxes, the lower one labeled Web CMS Service, but scratched out, and the smaller box labeled SiteFarm.

Back in June 2016, I held an information session for the Cascade user community to outline our plans for the future of The Web CMS Service and what the advent of SiteFarm would mean to our users. One of the big concerns from many of you centered on whether or not you would be able to move your existing Cascade sites into SiteFarm, to which we said, “Yes. Absolutely.”

Admittedly, we didn’t know back then exactly how we were going to do it, but in the year that’s followed our lead developer on the migration tools project, Jeroen Post, has been working hard on making it happen. 

How will the Migration work?

You’ll want to first sign up with SiteFarm (we suggest reviewing our onboarding process checklist) to acquire your site and then proceed to the migration process. Site Managers will be able to follow our migration instructions as soon as the tools and instructions are released.

What’s in the Migration Tools?

Site managers will be able to migrate:

  • the primary menu links
  • standard and flex page types
  • event pages
  • person pages
  • content held in feature blocks
  • files and images actively being used in page content

Other key benefits of migrating

  • SiteFarm will implement redirects for you so your web traffic and SEO information remain intact.
  • If you have pages you’re using for news or blocks, you will have the chance to designate these as Articles in SiteFarm, and further, define them as news or blogs so you can take advantage of the article View output available in SiteFarm as a default option.
  • You can pick and choose which folders will be migrated.

Once done, the migration tools will have additional options available to you, such as:

  • Update
  • Rollback
  • Reset Status
  • Delete Migration

Are you waiting on us? Content Strategies to consider in the interim

Don’t let the fact the migration tools haven’t been released yet stop you from preparing your content for migration. Here are some factors to take into account in preparing for your move:

  • Have you decided if all of your content will be migrated? Is anything out of date? Consider making a note to move it to a holding folder you can then ignore during the migration process.
  • Do you have news or blog content on your site? Is it all over the place or in a central folder? If decentralized, you’ll want to move it to a single folder for ease of identification for transfer to the Article content type.
  • Now is the time to consider your site’s information architecture. Do you want to reorganize your site? Move content around? The decentralized nature of Drupal’s content system means you won’t have the folder structure you’re accustomed to seeing in Cascade; menus and relationships are built by you manually (though some of this can be done for you if you include your main menu in the migration). Take some time to review your site content to see if anything out of date can be deleted, if page content can be combined, or if content should be reorganized.
  • Start working on your site’s Taxonomy. These are categories and tags that allow you to create relationships between pieces of content, making for a richer experience for your visitors. You can read more about taxonomy in our training documentation.

What to check for post-migration

Once the content transfer is complete, you'll want to review the following areas of your site:

  • site structure - Drupal content is decentralized by design; you will need to manually rebuild your site's hierarchy and relationships by using a page's configuration options to assign it to a parent page. This can include menu options and URL pathway settings.
  • embedded links - once your site structure is complete, verify that the links in the body of your content point to the proper locations.
  • attach blocks - we'll be capturing your featured content blocks in the migration, but not necessarily attaching them to the pages as the layout regions are not the same, so this is a step you will need to undertake. 
  • image galleries - your image gallery blocks will be converted to image gallery pages, which in several cases you can reference from other content types or use as the basis of rotating gallery blocks.
  • general presentation - our goal is to transfer your content from Cascade to SiteFarm, maintaining its proper code syntax, but please be prepared for the fact that it might not end up looking just the same as it did on the original web page. The code syntax, minus any custom work that may have been included, will be preserved, but you may want to tweak a few things to make it look just right.

Cascade Timeline

At the information session I told you that while no official end date had been set for Cascade, I was recommending everyone prepare for a 2-3 year cut off. The close of the 2017-2018 fiscal year marks the end of the two-year time frame and, given the relative ease of using the migration tools as illustrated in our tests so far, the SiteFarm team will be strongly encouraging Cascade clients to prepare for its potential shuttering at the end of June 2018. 

Early migration testing is showing that sites can be migrated in a matter of minutes to a few hours depending on the volume of content. The output has been pleasingly consistent with the original look, though we're still working on migrated blocks and will provide more information on how block content will fit into your SiteFarm site after more testing is completed.

We want to give you as much of a head start as possible to prepare, plan, and execute your move to the new platform--an application we hope you'll find not just easier to use, but actually enjoyable. 

We recognize this will be a commitment of time and resources for your department, and if you have questions or concerns, we invite you to get in touch and let us know your thoughts so we can assist you in the process.

Stay tuned for further announcements as we narrow down our release date for SiteFarm v8.2, which will include the eagerly awaited migration tools!