Today marks the official release of Drupal 9! A massive effort has gone into making this one of Drupal's biggest releases to date.

So, what's new? We'll tell you.

Improved Features

Numerous features that were added into Drupal 8 as pilot modules are now battle-tested, refined, and updated in Drupal 9. Some important ones for content marketers and authors include:

  • Content Moderation: This feature allows you to expand on Drupal's "unpublished" and "published" states for content. You can have a published version that is live but also have a separate working copy that is undergoing review before it is published. This is achieved by using workflows to apply different states and transitions to entities as needed. Content under moderation can also be published to schedule at a particular date.
  • Multilingual: Drupal can be installed in 100 different foreign languages, with the ability to provide translations for content and separate translations for the administrative interface. Reach more customers and support internal teams who speak multiple languages. 
  • Accessibility: Drupal aims to be as accessible as possible to people on many devices and usable by anyone with accessibility needs. Not only does this benefit your users, but it goes a long way in helping you meet accessibility/WCAG standards your project may require out of the box.
  • Performance: Drupal ships with robust caching strategies and capabilities out of the box, helping your site perform well under traffic. Memcache, Redis, or other cache implementations can be added for a bigger performance boost. This helps your content load for your audience faster and improve certain page experience metrics in Google, which can aid in page ranking efforts for search.

A Smoother Migration Path

The migration services in Drupal core have undergone much evolution, enhancement, and change. Not only are there rock-solid tools to migrate your data, but there are also tools to help you check Drupal 9 compatibility and migrate your code.

Whether you are migrating from Drupal 6, 7, or 8, the inline upgrade aims to make it easier than ever to update existing installs to Drupal 9. New reporting tools and pre-flight checks will tell you exactly what can and can't be upgraded, allowing you to make any necessary changes before updating.

If you are on a homegrown or legacy system, the Migrate framework in core will make it very easy for your developer team to craft a migration to bring you off the island. Drupal 9 is capable of migrating data from various types of sources: 

  • MySQL databases
  • MSSQL databases
  • NoSQL databases
  • Java Content Repository (JCR)
  • HTTP APIs (JSON/XML)
  • JSON/XML/CSV files
  • Static HTML websites

Worried that you may not be able to save hundreds of pages of static content, meta tags, images, redirects, or other important metadata? Drupal can do that.

We have extensive experience in custom migrations. As an Acquia Partner we can help you migrate today. Want to learn more? Let's have a conversation.

Forward Compatible Add-Ons

For the first time in Drupal's history, modules and themes can now indicate if they support Drupal 8, Drupal 9, or both. This is due in large part to the Drupal 8 rewrite from 2013 on Symfony components, and Drupal 9 builds upon these components and services even further.

Unlike previous versions of Drupal, your code will already be mostly compatible without requiring ground-up rewrites to match the new APIs or platform changes. The only major change that has occurred for developers is the removal of deprecated functions and methods. Your custom made Drupal 8 modules and favorite contributed modules already work in Drupal 9.

A scan of all Drupal 8 modules recently shows that 75% of these modules are Drupal 9 compatible and ready. Of the ones that had issues, a majority contained less than 3 warnings, which means that the ecosystem is in overall good shape. Developers can check their code with the provided tools and what steps to take to update their code.

This will continue into Drupal 10, effectively making the code you're writing today forward compatible with future versions.

When to Upgrade

The below schedule outlines the current support plans for Drupal 7 and 8. Current projects have plenty of time to plan their update accordingly to ensure a smooth transition:

Planned Drupal release and support timeline

Planned Drupal release and support timeline. Source: drupal.org

Drupal 7 and 8 are currently in LTS support until November 2021. This means they will receive security releases and bug fixes, but no new feature additions or updates. This provides a little over a year to plan your upgrade.

Don't run out the clock until next November, though. Depending on your current site, there may be many multiple activities required in planning an upgrade for you, from content migration, information architecture, custom module / custom theme porting, search engine optimization concerns, or other important factors.

We can assist in helping you determine these needs, including performance and security audits, to help plan your move to Drupal 9. 

Getting Started

Velir has architected and deployed many fantastic, high-performing Drupal 8 applications and we're excited to start developing projects today in Drupal 9. Partner with us and let's get started!

For more information, see how we reimagined Harvard Library with Drupalprovided design and UX for the Mass.gov Drupal build, enabled Brandeis University to tell their story with data-driven visualizations in Drupal 8 and CKAN, or see all of Velir's capabilities and to learn how we can help you.