How to Prepare for Upgrading to Drupal 9
If you have a Drupal website for your business, you’ve probably heard the news that there are several major changes coming from Drupal over the next two years. Drupal 9 will be released in 2020, and shortly after, we’ll be moving on from both Drupal 7 and Drupal 8 in November 2021.
This may leave you wondering: What will happen to Drupal 7 and 8 sites?
Paid, third-party services will be available to offer long term support for Drupal 7 and Drupal 8. However, once these Drupal versions reach their end-of-life, Drupal itself will no longer offer support for these versions, such as security updates. Likewise, the Drupal community will no longer continue to update the resources available for these versions.
As experts in Drupal development, we suggest that you start preparing to make the upgrade to Drupal 9. In the following, we’ll discuss how you can prepare for the change, whether you’re on Drupal 7 or 8.
The Rocky Road: Upgrading from Drupal 7 to 9
The easiest way to prepare to upgrade from Drupal 7 to Drupal 9 is by first upgrading to Drupal 8. Since Drupal 7 was released in 2011, the version will have existed for a decade by the time it reaches its end-of-life. While upgrading from Drupal 7 to 9 is possible, the ten-year gap between the two releases will certainly complicate the process.
Migrating your site from Drupal 7 to 9 is relatively similar to migrating from Drupal 7 to 8. Because Drupal 7 came prior to the continuous innovation model, upgrading any community-based code may call for significant rewrites from developers, especially for highly-customized sites.
To simplify your transition from one site to another, consider removing content that’s less valuable to your site and upgrade to contributed modules with an existing upgrade path to Drupal 8.
The Easy Switch: Upgrading from Drupal 8 to 9
For those already on Drupal 8, you’ve already made things a little bit easier on yourself. The best way for you to prepare for Drupal 9 is by continuing to implement the regular, scheduled Drupal 8 updates. This is because, with Drupal 8, Drupal simplified and modernized the upgrade path for Drupal through the continuous innovation model.
This model modernized and improved upon the Drupal codebase through semantic versioning, scheduled releases, and experimental modules in core for Drupal 8. As such, Drupal 8 users can take baby steps towards Drupal 9. In fact, the final version of Drupal 8 will be almost identical to Drupal 9 upon its release.
By making Drupal 8 forward-compatible and Drupal 9 backward-compatible, Drupal hopes to simplify transitions from one version to the next. Ideally, this will make future migrations much less complicated than those from Drupal 7 to 8, for example.
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