Drupal 9 was released on 3rd June 2020. We've lined up the answers to the questions we're most regularly asked.
Do we need to upgrade straight away?
It depends which version of you use.
Support for Drupal 8 will end in November 2021. That's a hard deadline. The reason is that one of Drupal 8's dependencies is Symfony 3, the PHP web application framework, and its end of life is November 2021.
If you're wary of early adopter pain, fear not! Drupal 9.0 is almost the same as Drupal 8.9, just with deprecated code removed and the underlying technology upgraded. The roadmap for Drupal 9 looks set to focus on easier maintenance and an even better content repository with a flexible API. And Drupal 9.1 is scheduled for release in December 2020, so you won't have long to wait.
Support for Drupal 7 has been extended from November 2021 to November 2022, to allow organisations impacted by COVID-19 more time to plan their upgrade.
Support for Drupal 6 ended in Feb 2016. You should upgrade as soon as possible.
Whether you're using Drupal 6, 7 or Drupal 8, we recommend getting an upgrade plan in place soon, so you know what's needed in time, expertise and budget.
What happens if we miss the Drupal 9 upgrade deadline?
Support for Drupal 8 ends in November 2021, and Drupal 7 ends in November 2022. After this, there will no longer be security updates and bug fixes, other than critical ones. Third party software scans may flag your applications as being insecure. For example, if you take payments on your site, you might fail PCI compliance.
Drupal 7 users could alternatively access support via a paid service from an approved Drupal 7 extended support vendor. But why not put that budget towards an upgrade where you have a supported system and the very latest features?
What are the main benefits of upgrading to Drupal 9?
The key benefit of Drupal 9 over Drupal 8 is the platform will be supported with security fixes after November 2021. The standout feature of Drupal 9 is its ability to provide as easy an upgrade as feasible from Drupal 8. Once you've upgraded, you're in prime position to benefit from Drupal 9's proposed improvements on simpler maintenance and easier integrations.
If you're using Drupal 6 or 7, you'll also notice great new features straight away. Just a few of these include easier content authoring, flexible permissions, improved media management and responsive themes for mobile friendly sites. And as support for Drupal 6 ended in 2016, you won't receive security updates and bug fixes from the community, and we recommend migrating to Drupal 9 as soon as possible.
Can you upgrade from Drupal 6 or 7 straight to Drupal 9?
Yes, you can. It's a job for those experienced in migrations, as it will involve a complete rewrite of your site. The first step is to do a full site audit, so you know how much work is involved. Take a look at What do we need to do to prepare for the upgrade? to get an idea of what's involved.
We use Drupal 7, will we notice much difference?
Sweet joy! You’ll love the extra functionality and benefits in store for your users as you make the move to Drupal 9. Here are just a few..
- Faster page loading for end-users.
- Improved responsive design functionality, making it easier to build mobile-friendly sites.
- Easier content authoring and quicker editing with a ‘what-you-see-is-what-you-get’ solution.
- Better multilingual support for editors, a spellchecker and improved media management for images and videos.
- Workflows — with different permissions to view, edit and publish content, enabling moderation. Plus, you can build and test entire sections before publishing.
- Improved accessibility for end-users (with better support for editors to make things accessible).
- ‘API first’ — the JSON API provides an interface between your content and other sites or applications, including your own. For example, it could import content from your mobile app or link your website to an application like Salesforce.
We’re already on Drupal 8, do we need to upgrade?
Yes, because support for Drupal 8 will end in November 2021. We advise you to keep your Drupal 8 site updated with every minor release for Drupal core and contributed modules. The reason? Because each patch release applies bug fixes and each module update brings your site closer to being Drupal 9 ready. That way, moving to Drupal 9 will involve minimal extra effort. And when Drupal 9.1 rolls around, you'll start reaping the rewards of the new features.
How long will the upgrade process take?
Excellent question, sadly not so simple to answer! It depends on many factors, such as the contributed modules and themes your site has, how many independent features the websites has. And whether it uses deprecated APIs and the extent to which it uses custom code.
If that sounds like a big job, talk to us about our 1 day Drupal 9 upgrade evaluation service. We'll figure out what's required for your upgrade and if that involves any level of complexity.
When is Drupal 7 end-of-life?
November 2022 (recently extended from Nov 21). It means the community will no longer support Drupal with new modules, fix bugs and security updates. Third party scans may flag Drupal 7 sites as insecure in 3rd party scans.
What is deprecated code, and do I need to worry about it?
When developers figure out new and better ways to solve problems, new code is introduced and the old out-of-date code is marked as 'deprecated code'. In Drupal, deprecated code usually continues to work for a while, so there's continuity, and time to update the code with the new alternative.
Deprecated code won't work in Drupal 9, and so must be updated before making the move. There are a few Drupal tools that help to identify if your site is using deprecated code.
What do we need to do to prepare for the upgrade?
It depends what version or Drupal you're using, and your environment set up. While we always recommend that a skilled developer takes a more thorough look, here are the key areas to think about.
Check your environment
The Drupal 9 environment requirements mean you must use at least PHP version 7.3. And, if you're running Drupal 9 on Apache, check it's at least version 2.4.7.
Check the status report page on your site to make sure you're using the correct version of your database software.
- MySQL or Percona - version 5.7.8
- MariaDB - version 10.3.7
- SQLite - version 3.26
- PostgreSQL - version 10 with pg_trgm extension.
If you're using Drupal 6 or 7
We're not going to lie - it's a job for experienced migrators, who should understand the coding differences between Drupal 8 and 9 vs Drupal 6 and 7. A site audit is the best starting point. And an understanding of what functionality you want to keep, improve upon or no longer need.
Each site is different. Typically, when migrating from Drupal 6 or 7, you'll need to
- migrate the old site content and modules into the new Drupal 9 site;
- build a new theme;
- upgrade the contributed modules you're keeping, and rewrite any custom code;
- check the permissions and roles are setup correctly, where you've also migrated users; and
- test, test and test.
If you use Drupal 8
If you’re already on Drupal 8, update to the most recent version of core and the most recent compatible versions of contributed modules. You won't be able to upgrade to Drupal 9 unless you're on at least 8.8. But we recommend performing all minor version upgrades, so that the transition to Drupal 9 involves minimal effort.
Before moving to Drupal 9, check for and update deprecated code, if you have custom code or themes. And make sure all contributed modules are Drupal 9 compatible.