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I'm working on a local version of an outdated Drupal 6 site which can not be shut down for a minute. The goal is to update the modules and give some enhancements, like adding tags, making a better menu and dynamic blocks etc with the least possible down time for the site.

It will probably take a few weeks for me to do so. Meanwhile new content will be added to the production site as per usual.

My question is: When I finish developing the requested enhancements on local version, how should I integrate newly generated content to the development version before putting it online? I can not simply import the production database dump since this will undo my whole work. So obviously I need to import only certain tables. But how should I figure out which ones? What would you do in this situation?

  • That depends how content sensitive your changes are. Best would be to to connect the site to Drush and a distributed revision control system like Git and deliver your changes that way. A custom module carrying all your changes might be a good idea as well. Maybe you can tell us a little bit more about what exactly needs to be changed. – leymannx Aug 11 '15 at 12:21
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It depends on what the enhancements you are making but the way I've done this same process before is to export the finished code improvements to a features module or other custom module from my dev site and use that to update the live site.

You mentioned a few examples:

  • "adding tags" -> you could export the improved taxonomy and then import it on the new site using a number of modules, ex. taxonomy_xml or taxonomy_csv
  • "making a better menu" -> the features module allows you to export your menu and import on other sites
  • "dynamic blocks" -> easiest to just code these in a custom module (probably the simplest kind of module to write) and enable on the new site
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