As soon as Dries Buytaert announced the release date of Drupal 9 at DrupalCon Europe last September, thousands of Drupal customers worldwide started planning for the next version, some with mild trepidation. Of course, if you keep current with updates to your Drupal 8 website, the switch to Drupal 9, starting in June 2020, should be easy. Drupal 9 is being built on the same code base as Drupal 8 — but without all the depreciated code. Switching to Drupal 9, should feel as painless a minor update – here are a few reasons why and a guide for what to expect.
Why Drupal 9 and Not a Minor Update to Drupal 8?
The need for a major release, instead of another minor update to Drupal 8, is a natural outcome of the Continuous Innovation model. This model, that started with Drupal 8, includes releasing minor backwards-compatible updates and experimental functionality on a regular schedule — twice a year. The model allows Drupal developers to innovate and validate changes quickly. And, for users, the predictable schedule and easy-to-implement minor upgrades has meant expanded functionality with less headaches.
The downside has been an accumulation of depreciated code within Drupal 8 — code that was needed to maintain backwards-compatibility. Drupal 8 is now at the point of needing a thorough house cleaning of old code and systems, and the result will be Drupal 9.
Drupal 8 as a Testing Ground
Most of the new features and integrations of Drupal 9 will have been thoroughly tested in Drupal 8, so there is little chance of problems with the new release. For example, Drupal 8.6 was released with an experimental media library, providing a testing ground to work out the bugs before it is integrated into Drupal 9. And any issues with Symfony 4 or 5 — components that are now optional in Drupal 8 — are being fixed in Drupal 8 before they are required for Drupal 9.
Ample time between the Release of Drupal 9 and the EOL of Drupal 7 & 8
The 18 month window between the release of Drupal 9 and the discontinuation of support for Drupal 7 and 8 in November 2021, should allow enough time for users to plan their upgrade. The upgrade for Drupal 7 users will be more involved than for Drupal 8, but necessary to keep your site secure. As for the upgrade from Drupal 8 to 9, the big take away is that it should be so easy, it won’t feel like a major upgrade at all.
Need Help Upgrading to Drupal 9?
Upgrading Drupal can seem like a daunting task that requires careful planning. The experienced and talented North Studio team has been on the cutting edge of open source technologies like Drupal for two decades and is happy to help. Reach out and and schedule a conversation.