WHY DRUPAL 9? Q&A WITH A TOP DRUPAL CONSULTANT
Drupal 9 is finally here.
The big question within the Drupal world as we enter this new phase in the evolution of my favourite CMS:
In an environment of Covid-19 quarantines and stay-at-home orders, websites are relied upon to do more heavy lifting than ever before. I'm passionate about helping organizations ensure optimal benefit from their Drupal sites, and as I talk to clients every day about how to move forward more effectively, here are the types of questions 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 design generator,
- Enhanced testing and tracking to ensure accessibility compliance,
- Full multilingual support,
- Accessibility compliance assurance,
- Simplified content editor capabilities
- Built-in configuration management capabilities.
But the most exciting feature of Drupal 9 is what it is not. It doesn't change the game. Migrating from Drupal 8 can be a straightforward process and this represents a major evolutionary development for Drupal. If a site is currently working on Drupal 8.9, then upgrading to Drupal 9 will be more of a point release, not unlike moving from Drupal 8.8 to Drupal 8.9.
However, migrating to Drupal 9 will require the removal of any deprecated code or APIs still in use on the site.
Q. How do I know if my site is based on deprecated code or APIs, and if so, what should I do about it?
There are some options and some great tools to guide you through that process. We have some articles on this very blog such as this one.
But in general, if you're not a Drupal programmer, you should hire one. This is not a job that can be done by someone without minimal training.
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 seem to be actively avoiding it. There are over 700,000 Drupal 7 websites that have not yet migrated to Drupal 8, even though Drupal 8 is much better in many ways.
In the future, migration challenges will never again be an obstacle to accessing the benefits of a new version. Drupal 9 represents the accumulation 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 revolutionary changes, and that is the case with Drupal 9.
Q. Do you anticipate that Drupal 9 will attract new types of users?
I don't expect Drupal 9 to be a major event at all, and that's a good thing. It's just what comes after Drupal 8.9. Some changes in Drupal 8 over its lifetime, particularly the Layout Builder features that enable very powerful drag-and-drop page creation capabilities, should make Drupal more attractive to organizations that want to distribute content creation and management across the organization.
Q. So is there a compelling reason to migrate to Drupal 9 from Drupal 8?
Drupal 7 and 8 will reach end-of-life status at the same time in November 2021. Therefore, staying on Drupal 7 or Drupal 8 really won't be an option after November 2021.
While the Drupal community will not maintain Drupal 7 or 8 after November 2021, a commercial vendor will likely take the opportunity to provide a commercial support option.
Drupal 9 is just the upgrade that comes after Drupal 8.9. For all practical purposes, it stays Drupal 8. It's just that Drupal 8 is constantly evolving, and because we don't have single-digit numbers to the right of the decimal point is 8.9, the next update is called Drupal 9.0.
Also, the digit change is a convenient place to clean up obsolete code in the codebase that you should have stopped using anyway.
Email me from the contact page if you would like to arrange a call to discuss the differences further, or for help with any Drupal-related questions, you may have.
Q. How would you compare a migration from D7 to D8 with migration from D8 to D9?
Imagine you drive a Toyota Camry and fortune smiles on you and you receive a 2020 Ferrari 488 Pista. It's still a car, but you'll need to relearn how to drive. That's D7 to D8 from a developer's perspective. The publisher/content writer perspective is more like moving from the Camry to a BMW. It's just a better version of what you already had.
D8 to D9 will be like taking the Ferrari in for a tune-up.
We are here to help with all Drupal related questions and website migration issues. Contact us anytime.