Drupal CMS is the best choice for developing enterprise-level websites. Drupal has got a highly dedicated and efficient community, constantly innovating and carefully understanding the needs of users. With each version, Drupal is making big and forward-looking changes to overcome any technical impediments, address critical security issues, and elevate the business with new innovative features.
The long-anticipated Drupal 9 is finally here, promising to be one of the important additions to web development. If you are familiar with Drupal 8, you must already be aware of the major innovations in the 8th version. It entailed access to a large library of modules, templates, tools, and various components, making website creation and management structured and effortless. This was a powerful and flexible framework supported by a vast open-source community and the architectural features can be leveraged by all regardless of technical abilities.
The latest version is a natural progression of Drupal 8 as it is built on the same codebase, adding new functionality to the current framework making the transition smooth and seamless keeping up with the innovation model. If you are wondering about the need for migrating from Drupal 8 to Drupal 9, we would recommend you do it primarily due to security reasons but the need doesn’t end here. Besides reducing security vulnerabilities, this upgrade gives other competitive advantages to your business.
Migration to Drupal 9 would be your last big migration and the Drupal community is promising a continuous innovation cycle delivering new capabilities once in 6 months. This makes any future updates significantly easier.
Drupal 8 to Drupal 9 migration
Drupal 8 birth wasn’t easy in retrospect. However, migrating to Drupal 9 from Drupal 8 migration is not as complex and cumbersome as the previous migrations. First, you upgrade to the latest version of Drupal 8 – could be Drupal 8.8.x or 8.9.x. Remove any deprecated code or contributed modules before upgrading to Drupal 9. Remember that Drupal 9 is just a cleaned-up version of Drupal 8. It is built on the same codebase with deprecated code removed, backward compatible, and third party dependencies updated. Ensure Drupal 9 custom code compatibility first, and then update the core codebase to Drupal 9 before you run update.php.
Drupal 7 to Drupal 9 Migration
There are nearly 70% of Drupal sites that are still on Drupal 7 and the primary concern is the discontinuity of community support with the end-of-life(EOL) announcement for Drupal 7. Drupal 7 to Drupal 8 or Drupal 9 migration means adapting the existing site into a new site as many new core modules and functionalities are added which are different from the previous versions.
Many are left wondering how the major lift looks like to jump ahead of Drupal 8? Even with the release of Drupal 9, we advise you to upgrade your Drupal 7 sites to Drupal 8 first. This is because Drupal 9 is just an incremental upgrade of Drupal 8 without any big surprises or massive swaths of new code. Websites that jumped on the Drupal 8 bandwagon before Drupal 9 release could benefit from a simple upgrade path instead of a heavy migration lift.
We would recommend you to do the heavy lift of the Drupal 7 to Drupal 8 migration before November 2021 when both the versions reach their end-of-life. Do the simpler Drupal 8 to Drupal 9 upgrade later.
But if you intend on jumping straight to Drupal 9 instead of Drupal 8, you’ll still have to manage the migration planning, deal with the tools and paradigm shifts, and consider platform requirements. Several challenges are bound to occur since the codebase is significantly different. But the process is not that tedious if you follow the right way to go about it.
When to migrate to Drupal 9
Whether you choose to migrate via Drupal 8 or straight to Drupal 9, you should start the migration to Drupal 9 as soon as possible. You need to plan and execute a major platform migration before you face any security implications related to the end of Drupal security support for the older versions.
If your website is upgrading from Drupal 7, you’ll need to do some information architecture work to prepare for the migration to either Drupal 8 or Drupal 9. Once you are on Drupal 8, the upgrade to Drupal 9 is minimal. You need to take care of the code deprecations but there aren’t any major content and code migrations to worry about.
Drupal 9 promises enhanced security. The older Drupal 7 version may soon lose the attention of the community putting security at bay. Both Drupal 7 and Drupal 8 versions will reach the end of life in November 2021. That means there are higher chances of security breaches as the security team may avoid hustling with these older versions.
A study from 2018 found that 63% of the Drupal sites that were hacked had outdated versions. This could put your business in jeopardy and your data be exposed. So make sure that you manage the security implications of both the versions with a due note on the end of life clause.
It is advisable to migrate to Drupal 9 as soon as it is possible considering that two major versions of Drupal are reaching their end of life. If you are still using the Drupal 7 version and want a smooth transition, it is advised to migrate to Drupal 8.
Things to consider while upgrading to Drupal 9
The migration process typically involves
- Analyzing the source code
- Identifying the content to be migrated
- End-to-End Testing
- Rollback and Re-testing
- Release to Production
The first thing is to plan and hire expert technology partners who can ensure a seamless migration.
1. Migration Version Compatibility
The next thing to do before you consider migration is to take stock of all your existing contributed modules and check if your hosting environment is compatible with the updated requirements of Drupal 9.Use Drupal Module Upgraders and Update Status check that can recommend changes to modules for better compatibility with the latest version.
2. Keep your Drupal website updated
Stay current on the latest version of Drupal 8 to ensure seamless compatibility with Drupal 9. By doing this, you will have all the latest features of Drupal 9. Drupal 9 has new features that have been added incrementally to Drupal 8.
3. The state of Contributed Modules
The major pain point in Drupal 8 adoption after it was released was that so many contributed modules in Drupal 7 were not upgraded to Drupal 8. So make sure your contributed modules are kept up to date. Most contributed projects resolve Drupal 9 version compatibility issues gradually, while also keeping Drupal 8 compatibility.
4. Install Upgrade Status or Drupal Check
These provide a report on the list of what deprecated code you still have. Run this on your website to know the current status. Deprecated code is something that is no longer relevant. Any Drupal 8 module without deprecated code will continue to work with Drupal 9. The modules with deprecated code need to be updated or it will stop working with Drupal 9.
5. Configuration and web content Transition
The core migration module introduced in Drupal 8 is best suited for configuration transition. They will be exported as the file format and imported into the Drupal 9 version. Media assets can be copied manually into their respective folder structures. The themes have to be structured manually too.
For low-level complex entity structures, you can use a contribution module to copy the content easily from one database to another database. And for complex structure entities, you may need to create a custom module corresponding to the existing structure to read the data.
Migration to a while new version may seem daunting but are you willing to be left behind the pack? To keep up with the current competitive benefits, it’s imperative to build perfect digital experience for your website users. With the constant innovations in technology, you need to find the right tools and expertise to help you sail through the migration seamlessly and easily.
Need Help Upgrading to Drupal 9?
At Skynet Technologies, we’ve designed, built, supported and updated hundreds of Drupal websites. As Drupal specialists, we’re members of the Drupal Association.
Whether you want to upgrade/migrate to Drupal 9, add new features, fix a bug/problem or maximise security protection website, our team of Drupal Web Development and Drupal Website Maintenance experts can guide you as per your requirements.