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Apr 01 2021
Apr 01

As expected, Drupal 9.1 was released on schedule at the closure of 2020. We have already talked about the Drupal 9 release and how it’s a testament to the predictable and reliable nature of the Drupal release cycle. Drupal 9.1 takes a step forward by adding more features and releasing them as predicted.

In this blog, we will be discussing the new improvements and more that will follow. 

Is it worth upgrading?

The Drupal 9.1 stable release was out as expected on Dec 2nd, 2020. We previously advocated that if you are on Drupal 8.9, you needn’t hurry to upgrade to Drupal 9.0 as you would not see many new features. But that’s changed.

Drupal 9.1 adds exciting features and updates along with support for PHP 8 (we have previously written about making Drupal 9 compatible with PHP 8).

It’s also worth upgrading as Drupal 9.1 brings significant changes in the user interface for both sighted users and assistive technology.

New features

Olivero theme

The much-awaited beta experimental frontend theme Olivero has been added to the Drupal core. As a replacement to Bartik, this is a modern and clear theme planned to become the new default Drupal theme later.

This particular theme is named after Rachel Olivero (1982-2019), the head of the organizational technology group at the National Federation of the Blind. She was a well-known accessibility expert and a Drupal community contributor.

Additions to the Claro theme

Claro was added as an experimental theme in Drupal 8.8. And now, Drupal 9.1 has added designs for various key pages like the extensions administration page, views administration, and status report. Also, the media library received Claro styled designs too.

Composer 2 and PHP 8 support

Drupal 9 fully works with Composer 2, and it is strongly recommended to update. Many of the popular plugins have also been updated. If the one you use doesn’t have updates, please help the plugin author with a PR to add the support (it’s quite easy). The new release comes with a significant improvement in performance and also reduces memory usage.

Drupal 9.1 has added support for PHP 8. PHP 8 brings in a lot of newer languages, and even though Drupal core isn’t using any of them (it still supports PHP 7.3), you could use features like union types and more in your custom code. Further, it’s likely that PHP 8 could be a requirement for Drupal 10 due to release in 2022.

Additionally, the user experience has been improved by making the content load faster as the images rendered by Drupal with known dimensions will now be set to lazy-load automatically. 

How to update from a previous version of Drupal

Now, this begs an important question: how will the current users of Drupal 7 or 8 migrate to Drupal 9.1? And also, if users have already migrated to Drupal 9, is there anything for them to execute with this release?

Every version of Drupal demands a different approach to migration. The idea is to pick the right Drupal migration strategy. Let’s look at how to migrate from different versions in this section. 

Upgrade from Drupal 7

Drupal 7 users can easily continue to migrate to Drupal 8.9 or migrate to 9.0 or 9.1 directly. Migrating directly to Drupal 9/9.1 will help them skip a step. The upgrade path for multilingual sites remains stable in Drupal 8.9, 9.0, and 9.1!

For more on how to upgrade from Drupal 7, check out the ultimate guide to Drupal migration

Upgrade from Drupal 8

For Drupal 8 users, there’s still time to step up to the latest 8.9 version until the end of Drupal 8, i.e., in November 2021. The bug fixes will continue, and the next one is scheduled for January 6, 2021. 

Sites on Drupal 8.8 will no longer receive security coverage. This means moving to Drupal 8.9/9 becomes crucial from this update onwards. 

According to Drupal.org, of the top 1000 most used drupal.org projects, 85 percent are updated for Drupal 9, so there is a high likelihood that most of the modules and themes you rely on are compatible.

Upgrade from Drupal 9

Drupal 9.1 is a minor release of Drupal 9. It can be updated from Drupal 9 versions for utilizing these new features without breaking backward compatibility (BC) for public APIs. While Drupal 9 will keep requiring Symfony 4, Drupal 9.1 has adjustments required to support Symfony 5 already. 

All these updates are underway to make Drupal 9 forward-compatible with Symfony 5 and 6 (not yet released). And also, as Drupal 10 is planned for mid-2022, these new upgrades target an excellent growth curve.

Running the update

We will only talk about updating from Drupal 8.9 or Drupal 9 in this section. Updating multiple versions is possible but needs additional care and consideration, which we won’t cover in this section.

  • First of all, if you are already using the Olivero theme in your project, remove that by running this command. We need to do this as Drupal 9.1 includes Olivero in the core.

$ composer remove drupal/olivero

  • To begin an upgrade from Drupal 8.9 or Drupal 9, run the following command:

$ composer require drupal/core:^9.1
drupal/core-composer-scaffold:^9.1 --update-with-dependencies

  • If your project is using drupal/core-recommended, use that instead of Drupal/core in the command above. Also, for the above, your project must be using the recommended Drupal Composer template. It is quite likely that the command might throw some dependency related errors. 

Since there are a wide variety of possible dependency issues, we won’t cover everything here. But to get started, try replacing the --update-with-dependencies flag with --update-with-all-dependencies flag in the command above and try again.

Drupal 9.1 seems to be a promising update for users ready to take the plunge. If you are still not sure, give us a chance to convince you why upgrading to Drupal 9 is crucial now.

Share your Drupal 9 experience with us and watch this space for more insights!

Apr 01 2021
Apr 01

With the launch of Drupal 9 in June 2020, the topic of Drupal migration is fresh on everyone’s mind. We will be delving deeper into the nitty-gritty around the topic in this blog. 

Migration is the process where the content from the old site, converted into the desired format and is saved in the new site. Sometimes, migration is a simple activity of mapping the source content to the destination content types, and sometimes, it is a bit more complicated.

Let's take a comprehensive look at the Drupal migration process in context to the recently launched Drupal 9, and what’s involved in migrating from different versions.

Drupal 9 is here, and regardless of being on Drupal 7 or 8, you can start preparing to upgrade. Find out how the migration process will affect your site and how to prepare!

01. Drupal 7, 8, and 9

02. Migrating Then and Now

03. Drupal to Drupal Migration

04. Migration from external sources

05. What’s More?

 

Drupal 7, 8, and 9

Drupal has earned a reputation as a great choice for enterprise-level websites and web applications. Drupal 7 was launched in 2011, and its improved JavaScript and CSS optimization made it so popular that a large number of businesses are still on it. 
 

Introduction of Drupal 8

Drupal 8 was introduced with numerous benefits, boasting extensive support for accessibility standards, with Semantic HTML5 that creates more usable interactions and adopts more WAI-ARIA practices, and much more.

Find out what to look for in Drupal 9 based on what we saw during the Drupal 8 journey and why migrate to the latest release.

Drupal 8 also said goodbye to PHPTemplate and rely on readable code when theming with Twig. However, these technical advancements came with a bit of a migration challenge.  
 

The Transition

It’s no secret that the migration process from Drupal 7 to 8 involved a number of challenges. Many questioned the need to migrate from Drupal 6/7 as they were hesitant about the migration process itself. The community has taken a huge leap in the migration process from Drupal 7 to Drupal 9. 

Read about the importance of migrating to Drupal 9 for Drupal 6 & 7 users and the consequences of not migrating to Drupal 8 before its end-of-life.

The infamous Drupal 7 to 8 migration challenged teams' technical capabilities and relied on the business priorities too. However, the Drupal 8 to 9 migration has no such hassles. If you are at the latest version of Drupal 8, then transitioning to Drupal 9 is very similar to a minor upgrade. 

Migrating Then and Now

The most important part of migration is planning and preparing. As a business, you should be able to assess the feasibility of performing a successful migration. To give an overview, it starts with analyzing your source data, managing important files and content, lots of testing, and so on.

The community recommends updating the core to the latest version available to ensure the site’s security and uninterrupted functioning. Using the dependency manager for PHP, Composer, you can update and install packages (modules) in Drupal.

Drupal to Drupal Migration

While moving your Drupal 6/7 site to Drupal 8, most of your time would be spent working in the Migration or Migration Group config. Also, you’d want to declare the different Process Plugins to be used and the Destination Plugins for all of the core entity types included in Drupal core. 

Drupal has reached the highest level of scalability and efficiency with object-oriented code, the latest PHP standards, more unified APIs to add power to your site. 

The entire Drupal 8/9 content migration process is also a brief series of easy steps and offers greater flexibility to tweak the content architecture.

Learn the importance of data and how to execute the content migration with a plan and available modules.

Migration from external sources

If you are on a non-Drupal CMS, like WordPress, then the process starts with Setup Migrate Demo Site and Source Data for data migration. The well structured Drupal 8 makes the execution easier and manageable. An average Drupal developer will have no issue understanding the database structures of both sites, and they can write a series of SQL queries that copy the content from any non-Drupal database to the Drupal database.

Also, there are contributed modules to migrate your non-Drupal website to Drupal. For example, the Migrate API provides services for migrating data from a source system to Drupal 8. Even the Drupal theming is a breeze now with the new Twig template engine. 

What’s More?

Drupal 7 and Drupal 8 are reaching end-of-life in November 2021 and 2022, respectively. This will leave Drupal 9 as the standalone version in the community with support. It won’t be too long before Drupal 10 makes an entry after that, so do make sure you complete your migration well in time.

Read about how we migrated millions of content items to Drupal for Lonely Planet. Axelerant team members helped familiarize Lonely Planet’s team with Drupal 8 migration best practices and streamline the migration process.

Apr 01 2021
Apr 01

Though WordPress's easy setup has made quite a name, the Open Source CMS is still far from perfect. There are instances where Open Source users prefer Drupal as their CMS of choice for the advantages it offers. 

For those who are new to the world of CMSs, WordPress is often the natural choice as it is easy to get started with. For those who would like to level up and need more customized functionality from their websites, Drupal meets these needs well. 

Drupal Vs. WordPress

Both at par with strong arguments at their corners, Drupal and WordPress have often locked horns in the CMS space. In fact, this is one of the most searched topics online among users who are wanting to enter into the Open Source space. And since pros and cons vary depending on the user’s context, there is never a clear winner. 

Let’s first look at the advantages Drupal offers over WordPress. 

Advantages of Drupal 8

  • High Security: This is the foremost reason for migrating to Drupal. Several government websites, including the White House’s official website, have been built on Drupal.
  • Easy Search Engine Optimization (SEO): Drupal is a good choice for businesses wanting their websites to rank via SEO. The platform offers numerous modules like Yoast SEO and makes it easy to optimize the site's content.  
  • Speed: A crucial element in holding your audience’s attention is speed. Drupal extends maximum response speed, allowing users to develop high-performing pages with a high-speed index.
  • Flexibility: More choices mean more flexibility to up your website game. Drupal’s custom content types are flexible and make your site unique. As a user, you can employ delicate detailing and integrate useful functions such as Shopify, Twitter, other social media channels, and more to achieve better results. 
  • Multilingual: Since Drupal 8, the multilingual function has been baked into the core itself. For organizations wanting polylingual pages, Drupal offers 100+ languages in its base settings. And as commonly observed, multilingual sites perform much better than websites having English as their primary language. 
  • Taxonomy: Data is the topmost priority for every website owner. From In-depth nesting to categorizing in a common data catalog, Drupal can reliably store a large amount of data. Such capabilities are still not available in other Open Source CMSs.

Advantages of WordPress

According to W3Techs, WordPress powers 37 percent of all the websites on the Internet. Clearly, it is one of the most sought after CMS for enterprises wanting to start up their websites quickly. Let’s look at its advantages:

  • Ease of Use: If you are a non-technical user, WordPress can give your business a good kickstart. It can take you from no website to a good-looking, user-friendly, and functional site in minutes.  
  • Extensibility: With 53,000+ free plugins and 5,000+ free themes, you can transform your website at no extra cost. It’s easy to extend your WordPress site without the need for custom development.
  • Development Costs: WordPress tends to work great for categories like small-to-medium businesses, eCommerce, publications, startups, and nonprofits. WordPress can address these needs at lower development costs. 

While these advantages take over Drupal, there are a few that both the platforms share equally. For example, both Drupal and WordPress offer eCommerce capabilities and are redesigned to be more platform-agnostic. Similarly, you can decouple Drupal as well as WordPress. The drupal site can act as a content API server on the first day itself, while REST API is now bundled in the WordPress core for developers to experiment and use it in a decoupled way.

If you are a small business, WordPress might be the solution for you, but Drupal offers significant advantages for large enterprises. In case you are one of the latter, the next section will guide you through the migration process. 

Migrate to Drupal

Here’s how you can migrate your site to Drupal in a few easy steps:

  • Download the XML file containing “All content” after you log in to WordPress Admin. 
  • Make sure that the XML file is valid using xmllint through the command line. Then make appropriate fixes to the XML file and run xmllint again to ensure that all errors have been rectified.
  • Use the WordPress Migrate module or any other appropriate module to migrate.
  • Log in to Drupal and navigate to the Find Content screen and click on the WordPress Migration tab.
  • Select the valid XML file that you saved earlier.
  • Make sure that the data was properly imported and everything is in place. 

Supporting Modules

While these steps will execute the migration successfully, there are other aspects to consider, like exporting content files, URLs, extra files, etc. 

Modules can assist you in completing the migration from WordPress to Drupal:

You are at your discretion to choose between the two leading CMSs. Both platforms have their sets of advantages, as listed above. In case you are still confused, get details on how Drupal 8 changed the WordPress Vs. Drupal debate.

About Drupal Sun

Drupal Sun is an Evolving Web project. It allows you to:

  • Do full-text search on all the articles in Drupal Planet (thanks to Apache Solr)
  • Facet based on tags, author, or feed
  • Flip through articles quickly (with j/k or arrow keys) to find what you're interested in
  • View the entire article text inline, or in the context of the site where it was created

See the blog post at Evolving Web

Evolving Web