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Drupal 8 to Drupal 9 migration

Why Drupal 9? A Q&A with a Top Drupal Consultant

Drupal 9 is here at last.

The big question within the Drupal sphere as we enter this new phase in the evolution of my favorite CMS: 

What now?

In an environment of Covid-19 quarantines and stay-at-home orders, websites are being relied upon to do more heavy lifting than ever before. I’m passionate about helping organizations to ensure optimal benefit from their Drupal sites, and as I consult with clients every day on how to most effectively move forward, here are the kinds of questions that I hear most often:

Download: 8-Point Drupal Migration Planning Checklist


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

Key benefits of Drupal 9 include: 

  • a built-in visual layout builder, 
  • enhanced testing and tracking to ensure accessibility compliance, 
  • full multi-lingual support, 
  • assurance of accessibility compliance,  
  • simplified content editor capabilities, and 
  • integrated configuration management capabilities.

But the most exciting feature of Drupal 9 is what it isn’t. It isn’t game-changing. The migration from Drupal 8 can be a straightforward process and this represents an important evolutionary development for Drupal. If a site is currently working on Drupal 8.9, then the upgrade to Drupal 9 will be more like a point release -- not that different from going from Drupal 8.8 to Drupal 8.9.

The migration to Drupal 9 will, however, require the removal of any deprecated code or APIs that are still used in the site.

Read: How to Prepare Your TEAM for a Drupal Migration


Q. How do I know whether my site relies on deprecated code or APIs, and if so, what do I do about it? 

There are a few options and some great tools to guide you through that process. My Promet colleague, Aaron Couch, addressed that very topic last week in a blog entitled, Drupal 9 Has Dropped! What to Do Now. The process that he outlines is more succinct and straightforward than anything else I’ve read on the topic. 


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, and many appear to be actively avoiding it. In fact, there are more than 700,000 Drupal 7 websites that still have not migrated to Drupal 8, even though Drupal 8 is so much better in so many ways. 

Moving forward, migration challenges will never again be such a bottleneck to having access to the benefits of a new release. 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

Drupal 8 was built as an enterprise-ready CMS, with the idea that future major version upgrades would be incremental, not evolutionary changes, and that’s the case with Drupal 9.


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 enable very powerful drag-and-drop page-building capabilities, should make Drupal more appealing to organizations that want to distribute content creation and management throughout the organization.

Read: Next Level Tools that Fast Track Drupal 9 Migrations


Q. So is there a compelling reason to migrate now to Drupal 9 from Drupal 8?

Drupal 8 will hit end-of-life status on Nov. 2, 2021. Staying on Drupal 8 won’t be an option after that date. 

Drupal 9 is simply 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 numbers to the right of the decimal point at 8.9, the next update gets called Drupal 9.0.

Also, the change in digits is a convenient place to clean out the deprecated code in the code base that you should have stopped using by now anyway.


Q. How would you compare a D7 to D8 migration to a D8 to D9 migration?

Imagine you drive a Toyota Camry and fortune smiles on you and are gifted a 2020 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.

We at Promet Source are here to help with all any Drupal-related questions and website migration issues. Contact us anytime.