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When is Drupal 9 being released, and do we need to upgrade immediately?

The release date is 3rd June 2020. You don't need to move straight away, as support for Drupal 7 and 8 will end in November 2021. But, we strongly recommend getting an upgrade plan in place soon, so you know what it involves. 

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.

Do we need to upgrade immediately?

One of Drupal 8's dependencies is Symfony 3, the PHP web application framework. Symfony 3's end of life is November 2021 and so support for Drupal 8 will end at the same time.

There's no reason to wait for Drupal 9 to plan your upgrade. Drupal 9 will be identical to the final Drupal 8 release, but with deprecated code removed and third party dependencies (such as Symfony) updated. Upgrading to Drupal 8 now will make the eventual upgrade to Drupal 9 far easier.

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.

Can we start the upgrade process before the release date?

Yes. You can begin prepping now. The difference between the final Drupal 8 release and Drupal 9 is that the deprecated code will no longer work and its third party dependencies updated. To start the ball rolling, make sure your environment meets the requirements of Drupal 9. Move to the latest release of Drupal core and contributed modules, making sure you update deprecated code.

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 via Drupal 8. 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.

 

Can you upgrade from Drupal 6 or 7 straight to Drupal 9?

It's best to migrate to Drupal 8 first. Then run checks for deprecated code and to make sure your modules are Drupal 9 ready. 

We’re already on Drupal 8, do we need to upgrade?

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 bugfixes 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 2021. 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

If you’re on Drupal 6 or 7, the best way to update to Drupal 9 is via Drupal 8. Then follow the Drupal 8 steps.

If you use Drupal 8

If you’re already on Drupal 8, update to the most recent version of core (8.8.5 at the time of writing) 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.