Go back in time and you’ll realize that every Drupal version upgrade has been drastically different from its predecessors. This caused compatibility issues and upgrading 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.
Drupal 8 minor version upgrades
With Drupal 8, we welcomed the concept of continuous innovation and new features/libraries were introduced via minor version upgrades.
The changes introduced in Drupal 8 were highly relevant to the arrival of Drupal 9. Each version came with backward compatibility, preparing the site for Drupal 9 in the process. For a website running on the latest version of Drupal 8.9, migrating to Drupal 9 is as easy as the minor version upgrades of Drupal 8. The major difference between Drupal 8.9.12 and 9 is the absence of deprecated code and upgraded underlying libraries like Symfony.
“The big deal about Drupal 9 is…that it shouldn’t be a big deal” - Dries Buytaert.
With Symphony 3 end of life in November 2021, now is the time for site administrators to start preparing for the Drupal 9 upgrade.
Drupal 7 end of life
There are approximately 7,30,000 websites on Drupal 7 currently. The worldwide Covid-19 lockdown pushed D7 end of life to November 2021 and the extended support to 2022, giving site administrators plenty of time to upgrade to Drupal 8 or 9. With Drupal 9's release in June 2020 and Drupal 8 end of life in November 2021, site administrators can choose to migrate Drupal 7 sites directly to Drupal 9 or via Drupal 8.
In case you are still on D7, we are here to help!
Upgrade or Wait?
Drupal 9 was released in June 2020, way before 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.
The implications of stalling an upgrade:
- Drupal 7 will not be supported by the community at large
- There will be no more commits to Drupal 7
- Security and performance issues will arise
So is there any scenario where you 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 revamping the design is the best milestone while upgrading your site, as you can get face-lift and tech enhancement 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 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 similarly to Drupal 10 as well 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 7 site to Drupal 8 at the next chance available because the extended support for Drupal 7 is short term and a less secured fix, and why would you want to lose out on all the benefits of Drupal 8 today when the Drupal 9 upgrade is 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 to the final Drupal 8.9 version as it is backwards compatible and the further upgrades will be as easy as any other minor version upgrade. Keep updating the contributed modules regularly, 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 firstname.lastname@example.org for a free consultation about your Migration dilemma.