Drupal 9 – What Changed and Should I Plan to Upgrade?

Executive Summary: I’m impressed with this update mainly due to the backwards compatibility.

The recent months have seen a lot of debate within the Drupal community regarding the recently released Drupal 9. The new development was released on June 3rd, 2020. By November, the two previous versions (Drupal 7 and Drupal 8) were going to have attained the EOL (end-of life) status. However, that has been extended to at least November 2020 and it’s still a good time to consider whether or not to upgrade your site. 

Previously, migrating to the latest versions required much platforming effort, a non-trivial release window alongside significant investment. However, upgrading from Drupal 8 to 9 is quite different. For the first time, a key version upgrade comes with less hassle, with most users comparing its simplicity to that of a minor point release.

But is the process as simple as reputed? Should you consider upgrading to Drupal 8 before finally updating your site to Drupal 9?

Overview of the new features of Drupal 9

With the numerous benefits that come with the CMS, most entrepreneurs are always looking forward to the latest upgrades. Drupal 9 offers a range of fantastic feature enhancements. The release can be said to represent the culmination of every feature developed throughout the Drupal 8 era.

Notably, Drupal 9 doesn’t offer new code or additional features. This means that any website operating on the latest releases of Drupal 8 should be ready to make a simple update to the latest CMS. No requirement for re-platforming, no bulk lifting, or content migration. The process just involves a final audit to be sure that the website isn’t functioning on outdated composer dependencies or deprecated code.

Here are some reasons for upgrading your website:

  • The older versions’ security patches usually lack proper maintenance. As such, you must secure your website from any potential issues.
  • Upgrading to the advanced features and enhancements on user experience excludes the need for third-party extensions and modules.
  • The latest advancements simplify and clean up your content while finding ways of improving the design and user experience.

The advanced technology is a continuation of the array of uninterrupted innovation models where key features are released twice annually. Those who upgrade enjoy enhanced developer efficiency and returns on investment.

You can choose to update directly from previous versions or opt for the step by step procedure through Drupal 8.

FREE PERFORMANCE CHECKLIST Your site performance checklist to help you assess your website health   

Should you upgrade from Drupal 7 to 9 directly or begin with Drupal 8?

Drupal 9 is already available, and Drupal 7 users can avoid the hassle by opting to upgrade directly. This can be your ideal upgrade route most of the time because you are assured of the maximum expected life for your updated website. 

However, this does not mean that first upgrading to Drupal 8 before migrating to Drupal 9 eventually is a bad idea. Many reasons could prompt you to begin with the former. For instance, your website requires the functionality offered by modules in Drupal 8, which are not available in the compatible release of Drupal 9.

While the two versions may share identical features, the latter comes with updated third-party dependencies and its deprecated code removed. This means that you will have an easier time upgrading to Drupal 9 eventually by beginning with the Drupal 8 upgrade. With the impending end-of-life, you must consider your timeline. You can either move straight to Drupal 9 and wait for up to 18 months for a secure site or consider the step by step approach.

Here are some reasons why you need the updated CMS as part of your development arsenal:

  • Flexible editor interface – Drupal 8 treats all the segments making up the underlying architecture as ‘entities.’ Compared to the preceding versions that broke up the entities into distinct categories like field collection and node, the new CMS is a key break. With the limitations removed, the updated site offers incredible flexibility and granting content editors the power to add reusable content.
  • HTML 5 Proficiency – Drupal 8 increases the simplicity and clarity of HTML5 coding; hence you can easily write your web markup. You also have direct access to additional fields such as phone, date, time, email, etc. The enhanced coding improves device compatibility and resultant functional excellence. Furthermore, amateur web designers will find the theme-based coding templates useful.
  • No language barrier – Web developers can now benefit from the inbuilt multilingual features available in the admin interface. This means you can conveniently create web pages offering language-based viewing, blocked visibility, and filters. Also, the translated updates are automatically updated, making Drupal 8 a crucial accessory for multilingual entities.
  • ‘View’ is now a core module – Web building relies on ‘views,’ and Drupal 8 has incredible upgrades for you. The feature now comprises the core module in the advanced CMS, overcoming the delay that is usually experienced. You can view your graphs, labels, maps, posts, menus, and many other categories. What’s more, the view section now has selected administrative and front pages.
  • Enhanced scalability and performance – If you question how Drupal 8 achieves faster speeds despite the numerous feature enhancements, then meet BigPipe. The advanced technology is crucial in intensifying performance. It sends the page’s cacheable parts first before proceeding to the dynamic segments. It also offers an in-built dynamic page cache which excludes the personalized sections from cached pages.

Companies that currently rely on Drupal 8 are way ahead and will have an easy time updating their sites to Drupal 9. Among the key benefits of carrying out the process immediately is that the former’s core code forms the foundation for the latter.

Bottom line

Drupal 9 marks a transformation in the methods applied by the core team when handling releases. The upgrade comes with built-in backward compatibility whose primary purpose is to ensure a seamless process. If yours is a Drupal 8, upgrading should be a smooth process, provided your code isn’t deprecated, and modules are up to date.

The next iteration changes the way things used to be, making the experience on par with other website updates. Considering that the process of upgrading your website to Drupal 9 is less complicated if you are operating on Drupal 8, updating is highly recommended. Contact us for guidelines on how you can upgrade seamlessly.

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