The launch of Drupal 9 is right around the corner with an expected release on June 3rd, 2020. The End of Life for both Drupal 7 and 8 will follow in December of 2021 giving people about 18 months to upgrade. If you have not started planning already, it is time to start thinking seriously about the future of your Drupal site.
- Upgrading from Drupal 7 to Drupal 9 will require an entire rebuild just as it currently does to upgrade to Drupal 8
- The easiest upgrade path is from Drupal 8 to Drupal 9
- Not upgrading to Drupal 9 will result in your site becoming obsolete, losing support for many of its modules, and vulnerable to new security risks.
Keys to Upgrading from Drupal 7
- Plan now for the budget and time necessary for a major overhaul of your site.
- Audit your site and identify features that could be improved, new features you want, and consider a new theme for the new site
- Consider an upgrade to Drupal 8 now as a step toward the upgrade to Drupal 9
What about sites still on Drupal 7?
The Drupal 7 to Drupal 9 upgrade will be more challenging than Drupal 8 to 9. It will require an entire overhaul of the site and a migration of the data to Drupal 9 just like in Drupal 8 which is why many sites are still on Drupal 7! However, since Drupal 9 is being built within Drupal 8 an upgrade path to consider is upgrading to Drupal 8 now as part of preparation for upgrading to Drupal 9. Then, when it is time to upgrade, it will be straightforward and significantly cheaper.
Keys to Upgrading from Drupal 8 to 9
- Implement all Drupal Core updates
- Follow the Drupal road map closely for updates
- Begin preparing to remove deprecated code
Why is the upgrade path easier from Drupal 8 to Drupal 9?
With Drupal 8 and Drupal 9, the Drupal organization is following a similar pattern to the famous Intel “Tick Tock” upgrades, not to be confused with the wildly popular app.The “Tick” is a major restructuring compared to the previous model. The “Tock” is very similar to the model it follows and is built in a similar fashion but with refinements and improvements. Drupal 8 was the “Tick” and Drupal 9 will be the “Tock.”
Drupal 9 is being built within Drupal 8 now and it’s happening with minor updates to Drupal Core. You should be updating Drupal Core on a regular basis when the updates get released. The current version is 8.7 and 8.8 is scheduled to be released on December 4th. Then, continue to pay attention for future core updates as release of Drupal 9 approaches.
Will the upgrade really be as simple as a Drupal Core update?
Yes…and no. The Drupal developer community wants the upgrade to be as straightforward as a core update, however there will be a significant amount of deprecated code (portions of code that are obsolete and are no longer needed for the updated features) removed from Drupal Core. This may be code that your site is still using which takes significant work to identify, understand how it is being used, and refactor the code to put it in compliance with the upgrade.
In particular, this will affect sites that depend on custom modules and or modules built by 3rd party developers who have not yet upgraded their code. As many people in the Drupal community know this was a major headache during the unsteady release of Drupal 8. The Drupal developer community is doing what it can to mitigate this potential issue. Still, site owners will need to carefully review and prepare their sites for Drupal 9.
If you have more questions about the future of your Drupal site, let’s have a conversation! We offer tailored strategic plans for your organization or business to thrive on the web. Click here for a free consultation with an expert.