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From Drupal 7 to 8 to 9 - when to upgrade?

Dec 01 2020

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On June 2020, Drupal made a major announcement with the release of Drupal 9 boasting:

  • Dramatically easier tools— a new layout builder, WYSIWYG media management system and content workflow tools make Drupal much easier to use. It enables users to take advantage of Drupal's robust technical architecture more easily than ever before.
  • Continuous innovation—powerful new features delivered continuously, keeping Drupal at the cutting edge of the web.
  • Easiest upgrade in a decade—and Drupal’s commitment to easy upgrades in the future means never having to worry about a major replatforming to stay up to date.

The new version marks the beginning of the end of Drupal 8 with support concluding as of 2nd November 2021.


Take the stress out of updating your CMS with our free guide, available to download here.


Getting ready for the Drupal upgrade

In the past when new versions of Drupal were released, the upgrade would require not only a hefty investment, but a lengthy site rebuild project. But with the release of Drupal 8 came a new way of thinking about how sites can be upgraded. There was the idea that moving from major version to major version would be as easy as any other minor update that was released.

“Historically, major upgrades have been costly. With Drupal 9 we wanted to innovate quickly and provide an easy upgrade path from Drupal 8. We did exactly that! The upgrade from Drupal 8 to Drupal 9 is the easiest major upgrade in the last 10-plus years." said Dries Buytaert, founder and project lead of Drupal.

This means the move from Drupal 8 to Drupal 9 is much more cost effective than previous upgrades.

While this is welcome news, the reality is there are still several factors that need to be considered and some preliminary site preparation that needs to take place before you’re ready for your upgrade.

READ MORE: 5 Key takeaways from the ‘Rebuilding attraction websites in times of lockdowns and social distancing’ webinar
When can I upgrade Drupal?

If you’re moving from Drupal 8 to Drupal 9, your agency partner should run a thorough audit to ensure your site is ready for the upgrade, taking care of updates to deprecated code, contributed and core modules and themes and more. Then let Drupal 9 install begin!

Things get a bit tricky if you’re still operating on Drupal 7 for which upgrades will require a lengthy (and expensive) site rebuild. However, the end of life for Drupal 7 does mark an excellent opportunity for businesses to review their CMS requirements to ensure they are using the right system, and if a Drupal upgrade is the right path versus moving to an entirely new CMS which better satisfies the company’s use case.

So, with just a year to go until support for Drupal 7 and Drupal 8 comes to an end, it’s time to start having the right conversations about the best way forward.

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