With the release of Drupal 9 on June 3, 2020, website owners are focusing on upgrading their Drupal websites to this latest version as quickly as possible (if not, why?). At this moment, many site owners might be overwhelmed and concerned about different things regarding the Drupal 9 upgrade. To provide clarity and direction, this post offers a Drupal 9 readiness checklist to help site owners smoothly carry out the upgrade to D9.

Drupal 9 Readiness Checklist

Why Upgrade to Drupal 9

Here’s why you should upgrade your website to Drupal 9:

  • Drupal 8 will reach EOL (end of life) in November 2021, after which it won’t receive any updates or security fixes.
  • After the Drupal 9 release, you’ll have a window of 18 months to carry out the Drupal 9 upgrade.
  • Drupal 9 will become the prevailing trend, and you don’t want to fall behind.
  • Migrating your Drupal site from D8 to D9 will be smooth and seamless.

Drupal versions support
Image source: drupal.org

Differences between Drupal 8 and Drupal 9

Drupal 9 comes with three major changes:

No support for deprecated code

Drupal 9 is a cleaner version where any old code, or deprecated code, in Drupal 8 will be removed. Removal of this code in Drupal 9 translates into easier test coverage and increase in Drupal 9’s ability to function freely. The code is more agile with less hassles.

Modules of Drupal 9 can work on Drupal 8 sites (single codebase)

You will have a single codebase for a contributed module, and it will work in Drupal 8 as well as Drupal 9. This will happen for the first time in Drupal, which leads to a paradigm shift – upgrades that were major events will now be steady and manageable.

Updated versions of Twig and Symfony

Drupal 9 features Symfony 4.4 and Twig 2.0. Both of these are major upgrades for Drupal core components and allow Drupal to benefit from improvements in developer experience, performance, and security in both.

drupal symfony updated

Image source: drupal.org

Benefits of Drupal 9

The new features in Drupal 9 provide site owners with the following valuable benefits:

Easy upgrades: Your website’s upgrade from Drupal 8 to 9 should be a cakewalk due to complete backward compatibility in D9. All you need to do is meet a few Drupal 9 requirements, which are:

  • Using Drupal 8’s newest minor version
  • Keeping themes and modules up to date
  • Ensuring an up-to-date hosting environment
  • Checking for deprecated code in your website and cleaning it

Support for long term: Drupal 9 will receive support for many years, whereas Drupal 8 will reach EOL in November 2021. Furthermore, only Drupal 8.9 will get support up to November 2021, while older Drupal versions will stop getting support in 2020 itself.

Accessible and appealing front-end theme: Olivero, the new front-end theme, presents a professional look to websites, and makes them highly accessible and attractive to all audiences as per the standards.

Better performance with latest libraries: Your website is cleaner, faster, safer, and easier to extend and maintain due to the latest components and libraries that include Twig and Symfony.

Innovative upcoming Drupal 9 features: Beginning from Drupal 9.1, innovative new features will be added that will lead to improved website privacy, security, performance, accessibility, user-friendliness, openness for integrating with new channels and devices, and more…

Drupal 9 Readiness Checklist for D7 and D8 Site Owners

How you should prepare for upgrade to Drupal 9 depends considerably on your current version of Drupal. So we’re offering two Drupal 9 readiness checklists – one for Drupal 8 site owners and another for Drupal 7 site owners.

Drupal Flowchart

Upgrade to Drupal 9 – Checklist for Drupal 8 Site Owners

Drupal 8 will reach EOL in November 2021 and will no longer receive support, including any security updates. However, you don’t need to worry as you’ve already made the best choice by opting for Drupal 8. As Drupal 9 is built on Drupal 8, your upgrade checklist is quite easy. Here are the steps:

1. Evaluate the goals of your website

As we move forward, things that were relevant yesterday may become obsolete and unnecessary today, which is why we have to keep evolving. First, determine what digital experiences your website offers your audience and how you can improve.

2. Talk to your administrators and content editors

Discuss how you can improve your website with team members that regularly work on your site, such as administrators, content editors, and other team members. Both Drupal 8 and 9 bring several significant improvements in content editing.

3. Conduct an audit of modules with developers

According to the reviewed requirements and ideas from steps 1 and 2, ask your developers to create an updated and cleaned-up module list for your preferred functionalities. The best practices during the audit of modules is using the core wherever possible, since many wonderful features have been shifted to it. For example, use the core Layout Builder rather than Panels, the core Media and instead of the contributed Media, the core Content Moderation instead of the Workbench Moderation, etc.

4. Update to Drupal’s latest minor version

Use the latest version of third-party libraries, themes, modules, and cores. As per the new model of innovation, new core releases come out every six months along with valuable features. There are also patch releases between them. You’ll be better prepared for Drupal 9 when you’re using the latest minor version.

5. Clean up the deprecated code

This is the mainstay of the checklist for Drupal 9 readiness.

 

Websites not using any deprecated functions and APIs will be ready for upgrade to Drupal 9 instantly.

 

Cleanup will not take much time. D9 preparation tools may be used for this cleanup, like Drupal-check command-line tool, Rector tool for automatic deprecated code removal, and Upgrade Status contributed module that has a UI to check deprecated code.

drupal deprecated code

Image source: drupal.org

6. Upgrade to Drupal 9

Then, upgrade your website to Drupal 9 with the help of your support team.

Upgrade to Drupal 9 – Checklist for Drupal 7 Site Owners

Like D8, D7 will reach EOL in November 2021, and will stop receiving support after that. Owners of Drupal 7 websites have the following options:

1. Commercial support

2. Upgrading to Drupal 9 directly

3. Upgrading to Drupal 8 and then easily upgrading to Drupal 9

Taking the third option is recommended. This is because continuing with D7 with commercial support will mean no innovation for your website, as new features will no longer be created in D7. It’s possible to upgrade directly to D9, but doing so would require a major upgrade anyway, since Drupal 7 differs completely from both Drupal 8 and 9. Upgrading to D8 and then D9 creates a much smoother transition.

 

Going for the well-studied path of Drupal 7 to 8 upgrade first seems better. Then you can move to Drupal 9, which is going to be easy and smooth. Additionally, your website can start getting the benefits of modern functionalities quite sooner.

 

Coming to the steps for D9 upgrade, D7 site owners need to repeat the steps 1, 2, and 3 discussed in the checklist for D8 site owners. With D7, however, the first three steps are even more important as more serious changes are required. After carrying out the first three steps, follow the steps given below:

4. Carry out a Drupal 7 to Drupal 8 upgrade

Schedule your website’s upgrade to Drupal 8, which should be done following the best practices. Your support team will move the configuration and content to a clean D8 instance of latest version. The time for upgrade may vary based on the complexity of your website. However, it’s much faster and smoother now due to new stable Drupal 8 migration modules.

5. Clean up any deprecated code

Your D8 website will be quite similar to D9. Check your website for deprecated code and clean it up. Once the deprecated code is cleaned, your website is ready for upgrade to Drupal 9.

6. Upgrade to Drupal 9

Then, upgrade your website to Drupal 9 with the help of your support team.

Wrap Up

This information can hopefully clarify some doubts and also answer questions related to the Drupal 9 upgrade. The guide can be useful while you upgrade your website to this newest Drupal version. With an expert support team by your side, you can upgrade your website to Drupal 9 seamlessly.

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