Drupal 9: What You Need to Know Now

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The countdown for the June 2020 Drupal 9 release has begun. As the Drupal community awaits this next big thing, here are the two burning questions on the minds of Drupal Devotees: 

  • What can we expect from Drupal 9?
  • What should we do between now and next June?

As the Business Development lead for Promet Source, with the added perspective of an Acquia Certified Drupal 8 Site Builder, I’m in the trenches everyday helping organizations to unpack questions such as these. Here are some of the concerns that I hear most often, along with my thoughts on how to most efficiently prepare for the transition.

Q. What are the most exciting/game-changing features of Drupal 9?

The most exciting thing about Drupal 9 is that there aren’t any game-changing features! No new features will be added after Drupal 8.9. Drupal 9 will remove any depreciated code or APIs that are still in Core. If your site works great on Drupal 8.9 and you are not relying on any depreciated APIs, the upgrade to Drupal 9 should be just like going from Drupal 8.8 to Drupal 8.9.

Q. To what extent does Drupal 9 reflect the evolution of the Drupal community?

Many of us know about the pain of migrating from Drupal 7 to 8. In fact, it is so painful that 750,000 Drupal 7 sites still haven’t upgraded. Drupal 9 represents the cumulation of the vision implemented with the complete overhaul that resulted in Drupal 8. For all practical purposes, Drupal 8 is a different CMS than Drupal 7. However, Drupal 8 was built with the idea that future major version upgrades would be incremental, not evolutionary changes. Drupal 8 is a enterprise-ready CMS built to support engaging digital experiences over the long term.

Q. Do you anticipate that Drupal 9 will draw in new types of users?

I don’t expect Drupal 9 to be a major event at all, and that is a good thing. It’s simply what comes after Drupal 8.9. Some changes in Drupal 8 over its lifespan, particularly the Layout Builder features that enables very powerful drag-and-drop page building capabilities, should make Drupal more appealing to distributed organizations that want to distribute content creation and management throughout the organization.

Q. Why would we migrate from Drupal 7 to Drupal 8 at this point when another migration is around the corner?

Change is inevitable. You can’t avoid it. Drupal 9 is really just the next update after Drupal 8.9. In fact, it will have feature parity with Drupal 8.9. Migrating from Drupal 7 to Drupal 9 will be no more or less complicated than migrating from Drupal 7 to Drupal 8. Also, Drupal 7 and 8 will both hit end-of-life status at the same time, in November 2021. So staying on Drupal 7 or Drupal 8 won’t really be an option after November 2021.

The Drupal community won’t be maintaining Drupal 7 or 8 after Nov. 2021, although a  commercial vendor will likely seize the opportunity to provide a commercial support option. 

But really, just upgrade. Drupal 8.9 is so much better than Drupal 7 in many ways. Email me if you want to set up a call to discuss the differences.

Q. Practically speaking, could you compare a D7 to D8 migration, vs. a D8 to D9?

Imagine you drive a Toyota Camry and fortune smiles on you and are gifted a 2019 Ferrari 488 Pista. It’s still a car, but you will basically need to relearn how to drive. That is D7 to D8 from the developer perspective. The content editor/writer perspective is more like going from the Camry to a BMW. It’s just a nicer version of what you already had.

D8 to D9 will be like taking the Ferrari in for a tune-up.

Q. We’ve already migrated to Drupal 8 and it meets our needs. Any reason why we can’t just leave it at that and stay with Drupal 8 indefinitely?

Drupal 9 is just the update that comes after Drupal 8.9. For all practical purposes, you are staying on Drupal 8. It's just that Drupal 8 is constantly evolving, and because we are out of single digit number to the right of the decimal point at 8.9, the next update gets called Drupal 9.0. Also, that change in digits is a convenient place to clean out the depreciated code in the code base that you should have stopped using by now anyway.

We at Promet Source are here to help with any Drupal-related questions that you might have. Contact us anytime.


 

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