“The big news about Drupal 9 is that there is no big news, and that is indeed a good thing.”
Drupal: The overview
You’re probably already familiar with Drupal. Drupal has been around in the CMS market for the past 2 decades and going strong with a market share of 2.8% and is used by 1.6% of all the websites. In the Drupal community, the only trending topic that is widely discussed is the onset of Drupal 9. There is a lot of anticipation about Drupal 9 features and upgrades which is much awaited.
But there is a problem. There are a lot of sites out there still using Drupal version 7 and 8. There are 70.9% of all the websites that are still using Drupal version and with the onset of Drupal 9, Drupal 7 & 8 are nearing their End Of Life in 2021. This means any update will no longer be available to Drupal 7 & 8.
This is not a sudden shift to a new version. The Drupal 9 release date is stated to be on June 3, 2020. With the release of Drupal 9 had been announced over a year before it happens, the Drupal community is giving users enough time to completely prepare for the migration, with enough red flags to be fully upgraded by that time.
What about adding features to Drupal 8 every six months?
Before we dive into Drupal 9, we have to talk about Drupal 8. Drupal 8 is the first major release to rely on significant third-party PHP dependencies like Twig, Guzzle, and Symfony. It is only a matter of time until they reach their own security support cycles. Because Drupal directly uncovers the APIs of some of its dependencies, major updates can require API changes in Drupal core, and from there require releasing a new major version.
Fast forward to today and the plan of action for Drupal 9 has changed. The release of Drupal 8 was all about reducing technical debt so that future releases would be effortless, fast, and fun. With Drupal 9, that vision has been realized. Assuming your Drupal 8 site follows best practices, an upgrade to Drupal 9 should be worked around carefully as not everyone treats Drupal the same way for every project. The situation for an upgrade cannot be judged in hindsight. It depends ow you have made your website and based on it, it can be gauged as to how Drupal 9 can be worked around for the timelines may vary.
Drupal 9: What should you expect in the release?
The most important thing to remember about Drupal 9 is that the entire point of the upgrade is to ensure a general migration from older versions, which will not have any security updates going forward past 2021. In simpler words, Drupal 9 is a simple incremental update from Drupal 8. You can expect the below major changes in Drupal 9.
Deprecated Code Removal
Drupal 9 removes support for a whole bunch of code that was marked as deprecated in Drupal 8. It is more of a major spring cleaning release, where code is being removed that exists today in Drupal 8, but that the core maintainers have made clear should not be used anymore. With the code removal in Drupal 9, it indicates that the testing process is going to be much easier and increases the chances of making the code more agile.
Single Code Base structure
There is a possibility to maintain a single codebase for a contributed module and have it work in both Drupal 8 and Drupal 9. This would be a first in Drupal. It appears that a leading option for Drupal 9 will allow a contributed module to list more than one core version of Drupal as a requirement in its module infoYAML file. This represents a dramatic shift in Drupal to a mature stability of upgrades being steady, even, manageable progress.
Change in Symfony and Twig versions
Drupal 9 will ship with Symfony 4.4, and with version 2.0 of Twig. These 2 major upgrades are important in the core Drupal update which could help with better security, improved performance and seamless developer experience. If you are running Drupal 9 with:
- Apache: at least version 2.4.7 is required.
- PHP: at least version 7.3 is favored. Version 7.4 also is supported but not required as such
Benefits of the Drupal 9 Upgrade
- Reducing cost and effort for development and maintenance.
- Prioritizing the beginner experience. Drupal 9 is going to make an effort to improve the user experience for new users.
- Drive the open web through a focus on accessibility, inclusiveness, security, privacy, and interoperability.
- With a well-structured data engine, Drupal will prove to be an equally worthy content repository on the market.
How to prepare your website for Drupal 9?
You have no choice but to update from Drupal 7 to Drupal 8 sooner rather than later. If you are already using Drupal 8, the update to Drupal 9 can go smoothly if the below points are taken care of:
- Timely updation of every latest minor version of Drupal as they release
- Keep your modules up to date
- Check your website for deprecated code
Also, there are tools like drupal-check that can be used to check your Drupal website for deprecated code, which helps to detect errors with classes, deprecated code, and more.
Drupal 9 will change the way the core team handles releases. The goal is to become a seamless upgrade for most Drupal users thanks to built-in backward compatibility. With every iteration of Drupal, it will bring a combined experience of both versions to the same level. If you are looking to upgrade, this is the right time to hire a Drupal Developer and connect with experts to help you guide about the release of Drupal 9.