Drupal 9 is Coming…

Drupal 9 is Coming…

and Drupal 7 and 8 will soon be unsupported.


May 19, 2020

In the past, version updates to Content Management Systems (CMS) brought about a stormy cloud with a silver lining: the promise of improved performance, but if ignored, the potential for website failure. Drupal is no exception, with version updates historically signifying a lot of heavy lifting for developers and retraining for content managers. That is, until Drupal 9, so what’s the catch? 

First, let’s talk Semantic Versioning. 

Drupal started using a new numbering system with Drupal 8 called Semantic Versioning. Long story short, this is making the upgrading process easier as we head into Drupal 9.

Warning! Developer mumbo jumbo in 3, 2, 1...

A version number, for instance, “8.8.5” represents MAJOR.MINOR.PATCH increments. A software team will update the:

  • MAJOR version when they make incompatible API changes,
  • MINOR version when they add functionality in a backwards-compatible manner, and
  • PATCH version when they make backwards-compatible bug fixes.

Drupal has been following this numbering scheme since 8.0 was released in 2015 and appears to be moving towards a new MAJOR release every two to three years. This has forced (in a good way) a development process that allows for gradual and easier feature upgrades and a smoother removal of old code. Previously, version releases would not offer future support for old code, leaving developers in a scenario where they must either upgrade or provide their own updates to legacy code. 

Simply put, Semantic Versioning = less headache (and $$) for everyone involved.

What changes should I anticipate with Drupal 9?

When Drupal 9 is released, code that’s been marked for removal in Drupal 8 will vanish and certain dependencies will be updated. This includes modules, APIs, and other code marked for removal between 8.0 and 8.8. Sounds scary but, due to Semantic Versioning, our developers are prepared for this cleanup. 

In reality, there won’t be any surprises coming with Drupal 9, because 8.9 will be a near-identical upgrade to 9.0, allowing developers to prepare for the full release. It seems pretty low-key, but implementing this update is more than necessary.

Will my Drupal 8 site break when 9 is released? 

No. Well, maybe not. All existing core modules will function in Drupal 9. Websites moving to Drupal 9 will only be impacted if the non-core modules (also known as contributed modules) aren’t compatible. To help with identifying problem cases, there is a development module available that provides info about installed modules and to help identify those that are not compatible.

If you find yourself on a version less than 8, this would be the time to ensure that your website strategy is up to snuff and to reengineer the site. If you’re on versions 6 or 7, it’s time to get moving. 

The Catch. 

Security updates for Drupal 7 and Drupal 8 are only provided until November 2021.

This means your Drupal site needs to be upgraded and launched by November 2021 to avoid a lapse in security coverage. Those still running on Drupal 7 (63% of all Drupal sites as of April 2020) should start making critical decisions about the future of your website. To everyone on Drupal 8, you’ve been warned and see you on the other side!

When is Drupal 9 coming out?

As of this writing, Drupal 9.0 is expected to be released on June 3rd, 2020.

Drupal for the long term.

Drupal has positioned itself well for keeping websites operating long-term, as long as they remain updated. Providing you’re on a recent version, keeping your Drupal site on the most recent release no longer involves a tedious content migration process, nor requires relearning how to use the CMS. Content Editors and Developers rejoice!

So, what do I do?

With Drupal 7 and 8 security support ending soon, there’s time to get ahead, ensuring your website has an appropriate strategy and is executed well before the end of 2021. If you’re a developer, you know what to do. If you’re not a developer, call up your web team and get the conversation started. 

We’ve supported our clients through years of version updates on websites, web applications and mobile applications  - reach out to find out how smooth this process can be.


Author: Devon Rathie-Wright