Planning The Move to Drupal 8/9
Drupal 9 is coming! The release date is set for June 2020. If you were around for the introduction of Drupal 8 in November 2015, you will remember it was a big event for our community. There was a lot of fanfare and talk about how it was such a big move forward for the digital space. And, it really did not disappoint.
Now, some years later, Drupal.org is talking about Drupal 9.
You are probably wondering what that means for you, especially if you have a site using Drupal 7, just launched a new site on Drupal 8, or are about to start a new Drupal 8 project.
Drupal 7 to 8
Let’s say you have a Drupal 7 site. You may be tempted to wait it out, to save time on an iteration of migration. Sometimes that does makes sense, but we caution against this. Because of the Drupal 8 architecture and how the Drupal community is delivering Drupal 9, there will be a seamless transition from Drupal 8 to 9; Not so seamless if you wait to move from Drupal 7 to 9. Also something to consider, is that Drupal 7 End Of Life is around the corner, maybe around 2021.
Drupal 8 to 9
When Drupal 8 was initially released in 2015, it came with a release strategy and process. This process allows Drupal to introduce major features within that current version release. It has been doing so all along through minor upgrades. This all got relatively easier and painless as the platform matured, and in exchange Drupal 8 is still today a healthier/cleaner codebase.
There are two more small minor releases planned for Drupal 8: The next is version 8.8, which will occur in December 2019, and finally version 8.9, which will be released at the same time as Drupal 9, the second quarter of 2020. These releases are continued refinements to a large number of features and modules, getting closer to the version we call Drupal 9.
So, if you do have a Drupal 8 site as long as you are keeping modules updated with these minor releases, you will hit the ground running with little to no additional work and only all the benefits, when Drupal 9 is officially released.
In a recent blog post, Dries Buytaert, co-founder of Acquia, shared insight to the design and functionality Drupal 9 will bring, as well as the release schedule.
“We are building Drupal 9 in Drupal 8, which means the technology in Drupal 9 will have been battle-tested in Drupal 8. Furthermore, we are adding new functionality as backwards-compatible code and experimental features. Once the code becomes stable, we will deprecate any old functionality.”
Your take away from this quote should be, you don't need to wait to start a new project in Drupal 8, just make sure your site will no longer use code that will be deprecated.
There are three ways you will be able to do this.
- Generate a deprecation report using Drupal Check.
- Search for your modules and find out what will be deprecated by visiting api.drupal.org.
- Generate a “readiness assessment.” (At the time of writing, a contributed module was in the process of being built so that one can scan a website and view all the modules installed. At a glance, one will be able to see if or how many errors occur, and what may need to be addressed to upgrade to Drupal 9).
Your Drupal service provider will be able to help you with any of the above if you don’t have the time to do this yourself. Start the conversation now.
We also suggest these steps for overall readiness:
- Keep up with Drupal 8 updates
- Make sure you are not using deprecated modules and APIs
- Where possible, use the latest versions of dependencies
And, if you are still on Drupal 7 or any version prior, don't hesitate to go to Drupal 8 first. You are going to love it; there are so many features in Drupal 8 that will greatly enhance your platform for users and optimize functionality for developers and authors, while in parallel helping to facilitate the upgrade pathway to Drupal 9.
Buytaert sums it up best in noting, “The big deal about Drupal 9 is that…it should not be a big deal.”
Further reading: Excited for Drupal 9? Get a Head Start By Upgrading to Drupal 8