Go back in time and you’ll realize that every Drupal version upgrade has been drastically different from their predecessors. This caused compatibility issues and upgrade between major versions has always been a complicated task. Contributed modules and themes needed to be upgraded for compatibility, content migration was a hassle, and the list goes on. Gradually Drupal has adopted semantic versioning which allows for continuous improvements without waiting for major version launches and allows for a more continuous upgrade.
Be rest assured that upgrading to Drupal 9 in June 2020 will be a cakewalk!
Drupal 8 minor version upgrades
With Drupal 8, we welcomed the concept of continuous innovation and new features/libraries were introduced in minor version upgrades e.g. The recent version of Drupal 8.7 came with the new and improved layout builder, media library, workflow, etc. Read more about Drupal 8.7 here.
Drupal 9 is going to be similar to a minor version upgrade where the community will work on removing deprecated code and upgrading underlying libraries like Symfony.
Drupal 6 website & Drupal 7 end of life
8,24,301 websites are currently on Drupal 6 or 7 versions. With D7 end of life in November 2020, and extended support till 2021. Now is the time to decide the course of action for your website to thrive with optimum performance and security. In case you are still on D6, we are here to help!
At a recent Drupal Meetup hosted by QED42, a sense of indecisiveness clouded majority of the members. Yes, everybody was excited for the new version release and what came with it. But we ended up discussing more ‘When’ and ‘Why’ should we upgrade to Drupal 9!
Upgrade or Wait?
Drupal 9 will be released one year prior to Drupal 7’s end of life. Even with the extended support for D7, eventually, the community will no longer provide updates, security fixes, and enhancements. (maybe available on a limited basis from select commercial vendors at a cost)
If your current website isn’t facing any issues at the moment, it tends to induce a laid back outlook. Sure your website might perform perfectly right now, but without the necessary upgrades, eventually, she will get rusty and creaky. Know more about the implications of stalling an upgrade.
So is there any scenario in which I should wait?
The only scenario that we can think of in which it makes sense to wait is if your organization plans to club design refresh of your website with the upgrade and if for some reason redesign is delayed (Budget, Resourcing) as re-design often comes with layout & content strategy changes. Order of execution if Redesign and upgrade don't overlap will be:
Drupal 6/7 -> Drupal 8 -> Redesign -> Re-do the layouts / content strategy in Drupal 8 or Drupal 9 --- (Rework / Inefficient)
If there are no budget or other constraints then Design Refresh is the best milestone to think about Upgrade as you can get face and tech lift in one go and also turns out to be much cheaper.
Upgrade to Drupal 8 at Next Chance Available!
As discussed before, Drupal 9 is being continuously built on top of Drupal 8 making it backwards compatible with Drupal 8. This allows for a smooth upgrade from Drupal 8 to 9 and once you are on Drupal 8, as long as you are upgrading to minor versions of Drupal 8 regularly there won’t be any major surprises from Drupal 9! Considering that, We recommend that you upgrade your Drupal 6/7 site to Drupal 8 at the next chance available because why would you want to lose out on all the benefits of Drupal 8 today if Drupal 9 upgrade is gonna be smooth and cheap?
Once you are on Drupal 8, the next question that arises is:
What do I need to prepare for Drupal 9?
The best approach is to just keep your Drupal 8 website upgraded with the minor version as Drupal 8 minor upgrades are gradually transitioning and preparing your website for Drupal 9. Contributed modules should be regularly updated, this ensures deprecated code removal. There are a few ways to check if your site is using the deprecated code.
All this information may seem overwhelming and difficult to make a decision. We’ve got you covered! Reach out to us at [email protected] for a free consultation about your Migration dilemma.