19 February 2020


Duncan Davidson

Preparing for Drupal 9

Options as release of Drupal 9 nears

Is your website still running Drupal 7 or maybe even Drupal 6? If yes, then now is the time to upgrade to Drupal 8 in preparation for the release of Drupal 9 later this year.

In 2011 Drupal 7 was released, and in November 2021 it is due to reach end-of-life. The upgrade path from Drupal 7 (or 6) to Drupal 9 is through Drupal 8.

Drupal 8 was a significant rewrite of previous versions of the platform. The critical change was the inclusion of the dependency on Symphony, a PHP framework. Therefore not only must your content be migrated, but you need to consider the migration of the code, themes, and templates that make up the site.

The latest version of the CMS platform, Drupal 9, is anticipated to be released in June, with the current version Drupal 8 also reaching end-of-life in November 2021 due to third-party dependencies.

Two questions may be forming in your mind:

  • Why move to Drupal 8 in the short term? Why not wait until Drupal 9 is released?
  • Will the move to Drupal 9 involve the same amount of work as moving from Drupal 6/7 to Drupal 8?

The short answer to the latter is no. Drupal 9 will be exactly like the last minor version of Drupal 8 except it will have all deprecated code removed. If your website has been built following best practices and doesn’t use deprecated code, an upgrade to Drupal 9 will require little or no development time. The same should be valid for all following major version upgrades.

Answering the first question depends on the version of Drupal your site is running on:

  • If you are currently on Drupal 6 which has been out of support for some time I recommend you move to Drupal 8 soon. You will be missing out on security patches, and Drupal 9 may not support migrations from Drupal 6 in the same way Drupal 8 does.
  • If your website is on Drupal 7, then start planning to migrate to Drupal 8. With the release of Drupal 9 in June, there would be just 18 months until the end-of-life of Drupal 7 and depending on the complexity of your site you may need this time to plan and execute the migration successfully.

In either case, you will benefit from the integrated configuration management, fully multilingual capabilities, accessibility for everyone, mobile-first design and fastest performance yet that Drupal 8 offers and which will carry over into Drupal 9.

If you already use Drupal 8, it is good news, bar checking for deprecated code, you may be able to move to Drupal 9 with minimal or no effort once it is released.

If you need assistance with a migration to Drupal 8, then get in touch.

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