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Managing, sheltering, pruning and nurturing your own custom Archipelago

Now that you have your base Archipelago Live Deployment running (Do you? If not, go back!) you may be wondering about things like:

  1. What happens when I need to update to the next release?
  2. How do I keep my Drupal and Modules updated in between releases?
  3. Can I add Drupal Modules?
  4. Will a new release overwrite all my customizations?
  5. What things are safe to customize?
  6. How do I keep my very own things in Version Control and safe from others?
  7. And many (many) other similar questions.

1. Keep your Archipelago under Version Control via Github

Archipelagos are living beings. They evolve and become beautiful, closer and closer to your needs. Because of that resetting your particularities on every Archipelago code release is not a good idea, nor even recommended. What you want is to keep your own Drupal Settings—your facets, your themes, your Solr fields, your own modules, and all their configurations—safe and be able to restore all in case something goes wrong.

The ones we ship with every Release will reset your Archipelago's settings to Factory defaults if applied wildly.

This is where Github comes in place.

Basic steps


  • Have an Archipelago Deployment Live instance running
  • Have Terminal access to your Live Instance
  • Have a Github account
  • Have a personal Github Access Token Created
  • Run git config --global --edit on your Live Instance and Set your user name/email/etc.
  • Note: Opens in Vi! In case of emergency/panic press ESC and type :x to escape and/or run away in terror. To edit Press i and uncomment the lines. Once Done press ESC and type :x to save.

1.1 Start by creating a Git Fork

Let's fork under your own Account via the web. Happy Note: Since 2021 also keeping forked branches in sync with the origin can be done via the UI directly.

1.2 Connect your Live instance terminal.

Move to your repository's base folder, and let's start by adding your New Fork as a secondary Git Origin. Replace in this command yourOwnAccount with (guess what?) your own account:

git remote add upstream

Now check if you have two remotes (origin => This repository, upstream => your own fork):

git remote -v

You will see this:

origin (fetch)
origin (push)
upstream (fetch)
upstream (push)


1.3 Now let's create from your current Live Instance a new Branch.

We will push this branch into your Fork and it will be all yours to maintain. Please replace yourOwnOrg with any Name you want for this. We like to keep the current Branch name in place after your personal prefix:

git checkout -b yourOwnOrg-1.0.0-RC3

Good, you now have a new local branch named yourOwnOrg-1.0.0-RC3, and it's time to decide what we are going to push into Github.

1.4 Push the Basics.

By default our deployment strategy (this repository) ignores a few files you want to have in Github. Also, there are things like the Installed Drupal Modules and PHP Libraries (the Source Code), the Database, Caches, your Secrets (.env file), and your Drupal settings.php file. You FOR SURE do not want to have these in Github and are better suited for a private Backup Storage.

Let's start by pushing what you have (no commits, your new yourOwnOrg-1.0.0-RC3 as it is) to your new Fork. From there on we can add new Commits and files:

git push upstream yourOwnOrg-1.0.0-RC3

And Git will respond with the following (use your yourOwnAccount personal Github Access Token as password):

Username for '': yourOwnAccount
Password for '': 
Total 0 (delta 0), reused 0 (delta 0)
remote: Create a pull request for 'yourOwnOrg-1.0.0-RC3' on GitHub by visiting:
 * [new branch]      yourOwnOrg-1.0.0-RC3 -> yourOwnOrg-1.0.0-RC3

1.5 First Commit

Right now this new Branch (go and check it out at will not differ at all from 1.0.0-RC3. That is OK. To make your Branch unique, what we want is to "commit" our changes. How do we do this?

Let's add our composer.json and composer.lock to our change list. Both of these files are quite personal, and as you add more Drupal Modules, dependencies, or Upgrade your Archipelgo and/or Drupal Core and Modules, all of these corresponding files will change. See the -f? Because our base deployment ignores that file and you want it, we "Force" add it. Note: At this stage composer.lock won't be added at all because it's still the same as before. So you can only "add" files that have changes.

git add drupal/composer.json 
git add -f drupal/composer.lock

Now we can see what is new and will be committed by executing:

git status

You may see something like this:

On branch yourOwnOrg-1.0.0-RC3 
Changes to be committed:
  (use "git restore --staged <file>..." to unstage)
    new file:   drupal/composer.json

Changes not staged for commit:
  (use "git add <file>..." to update what will be committed)
  (use "git restore <file>..." to discard changes in working directory)
    modified:   drupal/scripts/archipelago/
    modified:   drupal/scripts/archipelago/

Untracked files:
  (use "git add <file>..." to include in what will be committed)

If you do not want to add each Changes not staged for commit individually (WE recommend you only commit what you need. Be warned and take caution.), you can also issue a git add ., which means add all.

git add drupal/scripts/archipelago/
git add drupal/scripts/archipelago/
git add deploy/ec2-docker/docker-compose.yml

In this case we are also committing docker-compose.yml, which you may have customized and modified to your domain (See Install Guide Step 3), and scripts. If you ever need to avoid tracking certain files at all, you can edit the .gitignore file and add more patterns to it (look at it, it's fun!).

git commit -m "Fresh Install of Archipelago for yourOwnOrg"

If you had your email/user account setup correctly (see Prerequisites) you will see:

Fresh Install of Archipelago yourOwnOrg
 4 files changed, 360 insertions(+), 46 deletions(-)
 create mode 100644 deploy/ec2-docker/docker-compose.yml
 create mode 100644 drupal/composer.json

And now finally you can push this back to your Fork:

git push upstream yourOwnOrg-1.0.0-RC3

And Git will respond with the following (use your yourOwnAccount personal Github Access Token as password):

Username for '': yourOwnAccount
Password for '': 
Enumerating objects: 18, done.
Counting objects: 100% (18/18), done.
Compressing objects: 100% (10/10), done.
Writing objects: 100% (10/10), 2.26 KiB | 2.26 MiB/s, done.
Total 10 (delta 5), reused 0 (delta 0)
remote: Resolving deltas: 100% (5/5), completed with 5 local objects.
   d9fa835..3427ce5  yourOwnOrg-1.0.0-RC3 -> yourOwnOrg-1.0.0-RC3

And done.

2. Keeping your Archipelago Modules Updated during releases

Releases in Archipelago are a bit different to other OSS projects. When a Release is done (let's say 1.0.0-RC2) we freeze the current release branches in every module we provide, package the release, and inmediatelly start with a new Release Cycle (6 months long normally) by creating in each repository a new Set of Branches (for this example 1.0.0-RC3). All new commits, fixes, improvements, features now will ALWAYS go into the Open/on-going new cycle branches (for this example 1.0.0-RC3), and once we are done we do it all over again. We freeze (for this example 1.0.0-RC3), and a new release cycle starts with fresh new "WIP" branches (for this example 1.1.0).

Some Modules like AMI or Strawberry Runners have their independent Version but are released together anyway, e.g. for 1.0.0-RC3 both AMI and Strawberry Runners are 0.2.0. Why? Because work started later than the core Archipelago and also because they are not really CORE. So what happens with main branches? In our project main branches are never experimental. They are always a 1:1 with the latest stable release. So main will contain a full commit of 1.0.0-RC2 until we freeze 1.0.0-RC3 when main gets that code. Over and over. Nice, right?

Which modules belong to Archipelago and follow a release cycle?

The following modules are the ones we update on every release:

We also update macro modules that are meant for deployment like this Repository and

To keep your Archipelago up to date, especially once you "go custom" as described in this Documentation, the process is quite simple, e.g. to fetch latest 1.0.0-RC3 updates during the 1.0.0-RC3 release cycle run:

docker exec -ti esmero-php bash -c "composer require strawberryfield/strawberryfield:dev-1.0.0-RC3 strawberryfield/format_strawberryfield:dev-1.0.0-RC3 strawberryfield/webform_strawberryfield:dev-1.0.0-RC3 archipelago/ami:0.2.0.x-dev strawberryfield/strawberry_runners:0.2.0.x-dev strawberryfield/strawberry_runners:0.2.0.x-dev archipelago/archipelago_subtheme:dev-1.0.0-RC3 -W"

And then run any Database updates that may be needed:

docker exec -ti esmero-php bash -c "drush updatedb"

This will bring all the new code and all (except if there are BUGS!) should work as expected.

Note: Archipelago really tries hard to be as backwards compatible as possible and rarely will you see a non-documented or non-dealt-with deprecation.

Note 2: We of course recommend always running the Stable (frozen) release, but since code is plastic and fixes will go into a WIP open branch, you should be safe enough to move all modules together.

You can run these commands any time you need, and while the release is open you will always get the latest code (even if it's always the same branch). Please follow/subscribe to each Module's Github to be aware of changes/issues and improvements.

3. Keeping your Archipelago's Drupal Contributed Modules and Core updated

3.1 Contributed Modules.

To keep your Archipelago's Drupal up to date check your Drupal at Make sure you check mostly (yes mostly, no need to overreact) for Security Updates. Not every Drupal contributed module (project) keeps backwards compatibility, and we try to test every version we ship (as in this repository's composer.lock files) before releasing. Once you detect a major change/requirement, visit the Project's Changelog Website, and take some time reading it. If you feel confident it's not going to break all, copy the suggested Composer command, e.g. if you visit you will see that the update is suggested as:

Install with Composer: $ composer require 'drupal/google_api_client:^3.2'

Using the same module as an example, before doing any final updates, check your current running version (take note in case you need to revert):

docker exec -ti esmero-php bash -c "composer info 'drupal/google_api_client"

Keep the version around.

Now let's update, which means using the suggested command translated to our own Docker world like this (notice the -W):

docker exec -ti esmero-php bash -c "composer require 'drupal/google_api_client:^3.2 -W"

And then run any Database updates that may be needed:

docker exec -ti esmero-php bash -c "drush updatedb"

This will update that module. Test your website. Depending on what you update, you want to focus first on the functionality it provides, and then create/edit/delete a fictitious Digital Object to ensure it did not add any errors to your most beloved Digital Objects workflows.

If you see errors or you feel it's not acting as it should, you can revert by doing:

docker exec -ti esmero-php bash -c "composer require 'drupal/google_api_client:^VERSION_YOU_KEPT_AROUND -W"

And then run any Database updates that may be needed:

docker exec -ti esmero-php bash -c "drush updatedb"

If this happens we encourage you to please 👏 share your findings with our community/slack/Github ISSUE here.

3.1 Drupal Core inside the same major version:

This is quite similar to a contributed module but normally involves at least 3 dependencies and of course larger changes.

Exact Version

Inside the same major version, e.g. inside Drupal 9, if you are currently running Drupal 9.0.1 and you want to update to an exact latest (as I write 9.2.4):

docker exec -ti esmero-php bash -c "composer require drupal/core:9.2.4 drupal/core-dev:9.2.4 drupal/core-composer-scaffold:9.2.4 drupal/core-project-message:9.2.4 --update-with-dependencies"

Or under Drupal 8, if you are currently running Drupal 8.9.14 and you want to update to an exact latest (as I write 8.9.18):

docker exec -ti esmero-php bash -c "composer require drupal/core-dev:8.9.18 drupal/core:8.9.18 drupal/core-composer-scaffold:8.9.18 --update-with-dependencies"

And then for both cases run any Database updates that may be needed:

docker exec -ti esmero-php bash -c "drush updatedb"

Alternative Major Version

If you want to only remember a single command and want to be sure to also get all extra packages for Drupal 9, run:

docker exec -ti esmero-php bash -c "composer require drupal/core-dev:^9 drupal/core:^9 drupal/core-composer-scaffold:^9 drupal/core-project-message:^9 -W"

Or for Drupal 8:

docker exec -ti esmero-php bash -c "composer require drupal/core-dev:^8 drupal/core:^8 drupal/core-composer-scaffold:^8 drupal/core-project-message:^8 -W"

And then for both cases run any Database updates that may be needed:

docker exec -ti esmero-php bash -c "drush updatedb"

This will always get you the latest Drupal and dependencies allowed by your composer.json.

3.2 Drupal Core between major versions:

Since major versions may bring larger deprecations, contributed modules will stay behind, and the world (and your database may collapse), we really recommend that you do some tests first (locally) or follow one of our guides. We at Archipelago will always document a larger version update. Currently, the Drupal 8 to Drupal 9 Update is documented in detail here.

Thank you for reading! Please contact us on our Archipelago Commons Google Group with any questions or feedback, or open an ISSUE in this Archipelago Deployment Live Repository.

Return to Archipelago Live Deployment.

Last update: August 18, 2022
Created: January 24, 2022