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:
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:
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.
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.
Q. So is there a compelling reason to migrate to Drupal 9 from Drupal 8?
Drupal 7 and 8 will both hit end-of-life status at the same time, in November 2021. So staying on Drupal 7 or Drupal 8 won’t really be an option after November 2021.
While the Drupal community won’t be maintaining Drupal 7 or 8 after Nov. 2021, a commercial vendor will likely seize the opportunity to provide a commercial support option.
Drupal 9 is just 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.
Email me if you want to set up a call to discuss the differences further, or for help with any Drupal-related questions that you might have.
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.