Drupal CKEditor 4 LTS – what to expect beyond EOL

This is a comprehensive guide for the Drupal CKEditor 4 End of Life (EOL) and its implications for developers and website administrators relying on CKEditor 4 within Drupal platforms. In addition to discussing the specifics of how and when CKEditor 4 support will end, this article also offers available options for secure, continued use of CKEditor 4 in Drupal 7 and Drupal 10+.

Since its debut in 2012, CKEditor 4 has played a pivotal role in content editing across various Drupal versions. From January 1, 2024 and onwards, CKEditor 4 will no longer receive open source security updates in the Drupal ecosystem, as CKEditor 4 has reached its end of life period. However extended CKEditor 4 support will be available until the end of 2026, with an accompanying Drupal module. This allows more time for integrators before they eventually upgrade to its successor, CKEditor 5, which is a core module in Drupal 10.

Security notice

Please be aware that since June 30th 2023, Long Term Support (LTS) packages with security fixes have already been released for CKEditor 4 Extended Support Model. This means the last free open source version of CKEditor 4 (4.22.1) contains known security issues and should no longer be used. To ensure the security of your application, upgrade to CKEditor 5 or CKEditor 4 LTS.

# CKEditor 4 in Drupal 2012 - 2023

CKEditor 4 was officially launched in 2012 and was initially made available in Drupal 7 through a dedicated module.

With the launch of Drupal 8, it was incorporated into Drupal core, marking an important milestone in the relationship between CKSource and Drupal. Later, CKEditor 4 was also included in Drupal 9 and Drupal 10.

It’s been almost 12 years since the launch of CKEditor 4. Throughout all those years, CKSource and the core Drupal team have kept supporting CKEditor 4 – together.

# CKEditor 4 in Drupal 2024 and beyond

With the launch of CKEditor 5 in 2018, it was inevitable that at some point, CKEditor 4 support would come to an end.

The process of providing continuous support for CKEditor 4 in Drupal has been extended, and consists of two phases:

  • The end of support for the open source edition of CKEditor 4 in Drupal from January 1, 2024
  • The end of paid commercial support for CKEditor 4 from December 2026

To be eligible for paid commercial support for CKEditor 4, each Drupal site owner must purchase a valid Commercial License.

# The open source CKEditor module

Starting from January 2024, the CKEditor 4 Drupal module that ships the open source version of CKEditor 4 will no longer get any security updates.

If you are using this module, you should immediately upgrade to CKEditor 5. If you wish to continue using CKEditor 4, you should use an alternative, LTS edition (described below) in order to keep your site secure.

# The CKEditor 4 LTS (Long Term Support) module

At the end of 2023, CKSource introduced a special Drupal module. The CKEditor 4 LTS module provides support until the end of 2026 with a dedicated, commercial edition of CKEditor 4.

The CKEditor 4 LTS edition, available via our Extended Support Model (ESM), is a dedicated offering for customers who prefer to stay on CKEditor 4 for additional time, instead of migrating immediately to CKEditor 5.

Some reasons for sticking to CKEditor 4 might be:

  • Using Drupal 7
  • Using extensions that do not have yet equivalents in CKEditor 5
  • Lack of time to perform an upgrade at this moment

Here’s a quick comparison of the open source and LTS modules for Drupal 10+:

CKEditor 4 module (open source)CKEditor 4 LTS
Supported until31 Dec 202331 Dec 2026
License modelOpen sourceCommercial only
Covered by the security advisory policyNo, after Dec 2023Yes

# CKEditor 4 LTS in Drupal 10+: functional overview

# Prerequisites

Unlike the open source edition, CKEditor 4 LTS requires a license key to work. If you haven’t got your license key yet, read about the Extended Support Model or simply contact us to understand the terms and conditions.

# Installation

The installation of CKEditor 4 LTS is relatively simple. The exact steps depend on whether the old CKEditor module is currently installed or not.

You can find full installation instructions in the Drupal documentation.

# API and compatibility

The CKEditor 4 LTS module has been created as a fork of the most recent copy of the CKEditor module. This has been done intentionally, to preserve 100% backward compatibility with all your text format settings, as well as to preserve 100% API compatibility with the old CKEditor module, allowing you to continue using all 3rd party modules and plugins for CKEditor 4 that you use today.

# Security coverage in Drupal 10+

The Extended Support Model Package entitles you to security updates that CKSource provides for CKEditor 4 LTS and all its official plugins until the end of 2026.

Due to the way CKEditor 4 has been incorporated into Drupal 8-10, not all the official plugins have been available through the “official” (and deprecated) CKEditor module that the CKEditor 4 LTS module replaces. Some less popular plugins, such as CKEditor Font Size and Family, were only made available through contrib modules.

We have good news, though: you should be able to manually update all official plugins with their more secure equivalents whenever there is a security update for those particular plugins. We are always ready to help if you need instructions for any particular module. If you are a module maintainer, please feel free to reach out to us to understand how your module is compatible with CKEditor 4 LTS.

Since typically those third-party modules require adding the JavaScript part of CKEditor 4 plugins manually, or having the JavaScript plugins code located in a dedicated folder, you will be allowed to keep all official plugins, regardless of whether they were shipped in Drupal core or by third-party modules.

# CKEditor 4 LTS in Drupal 7

Using CKEditor 4 LTS in Drupal 7, unlike in Drupal 10, currently does not require installing any additional new modules. All that is required is adjusting the configuration of the existing ckeditor module in two places.

Note

In the future, we may introduce a dedicated version of the ckeditor_lts module for Drupal 7 with full backward compatibility with the ckeditor module.

# Prerequisites

These instructions assume that you’re using CKEditor 4 using the contrib module https://www.drupal.org/project/ckeditor version 7.x-1.23.

To start using CKEditor 4 LTS, two steps are required:

  • Update the CKEditor Path in Global Settings to point to the latest version of LTS
  • In the advanced options of each profile, at the bottom, in the Custom JavaScript Configuration, place a code snippet with your license key

A guide with step-by-step instructions and screenshots about Drupal 7 configuration for CKEditor 4 LTS is also available.

# Functionality

The functionality of the module does not change. You can enjoy all the same features you used before.

# Security coverage in Drupal 7

The Extended Support Model Package entitles you to security updates for CKEditor 4 and all its official plugins until the end of 2026.

# Start using Drupal CKEditor 4 LTS today

If you would like to continue using CKEditor 4 in your Drupal project, the LTS module gives you three additional years of peace of mind, guaranteeing security fixes for any vulnerabilities that may come along the way. Contact us to get an Extended Support Model and activate the LTS package right away.

# Upgrade CKEditor 4 to 5 in Drupal

While CKEditor 4 LTS provides security and support, it should only be considered a fallback solution if you can’t yet upgrade to CKEditor 5. The only way to get permanent peace of mind is to switch to CKEditor 5.

CKEditor is still the primary WYSIWYG editor in Drupal – and starting from Drupal 10, CKEditor 5 has been the default editor. With a completely new architecture, updated user interface, and multiple new features, such as text Autoformatting, CKEditor 5 is the best editor currently on the market.

With the launch of the CKEditor 5 Premium Features Module Drupal users also have the chance to collaborate in real time on documents, without having to switch to platforms such as Google Docs. Thanks to the included notifications module, you can get real-time notifications when someone edits your document, adds comments or replies to your comments. Interested? Try the module in your Drupal project now.

# Questions about CKEditor 4 LTS?

If you have any questions about the Drupal modules we offer, or how to get CKEditor 4 LTS, contact us for more information.

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