Drupal 9, the strength of a modern technological foundation

Drupal 9 migrating

With Drupal 9, the Open Source CMS maintains its leadership position thanks to a major update of its technology base. The ease of migration for customers convinced the teams at Contraste Digital.

Drupal has been at the heart of the Contraste Digital offering for over 10 years. Our teams keep a close eye on the evolution of the Open Source CMS. It is with the goal of maintaining its position as the market leader in online content publishing tools that Drupal is now taking a major technological turn.

On June 3rd, Drupal released its version 9, which is set to become a reference. It ensures both a standardization of the code and a performance optimization , while guaranteeing a high level of scalability of the CMS.

Drupal 8, relased in 2015, was a major challenge as it completely shuffled what Duropal 7 had done. This time, Drupal 9 is a direct evolution of Drupal 8. The community is looking forward to this change, and for good reason, as this new version has many advantages. There won’t be more costly, risky and time-consuming migrations for our customers. This new version brings simplicity and stability to site maintenance. With this version 9, Drupal relies on continuity and makes a big leap by releasing a major version that is equivalent to the optimized version of Drupal 8 with a few exceptions...

With Drupal 9, the key words are "update" and "cleanup". The goal, before proposing new features, is to offer unparalleled stability and performance...

What should be retained from the developments?

Among the updates of Drupal components, we note first of all the upgrade to Symfony 4.4 and the Doctrine upgrade. From an integration point of view, the Twig template engine and the CKeditor text editor change to a newer version. jQuery and jQuery Ui are also updated.

The other major axis of this new version is the cleanup of the Drupal core. The "core" is the heart of Drupal, the common platform, the central core of each site. Since the switch to Drupal 8, the goal of the editor was to clean up deprecated code. By deprecated, we mean obsolete code, which must be replaced for the sake of continuity and stability of the CMS.

And this is where our work makes sense, because if Drupal removes its deprecated code by performing this update, our teams must ensure that the community modules that are used are also updated. On the other hand, we also have to perform this cleanup in our own custom code, developed specifically for some of our customers, before we can move to Drupal 9.

Why is it easy to migrate to Drupal 9?

In the words of Drupal founder Dries Buytaert: "The big deal about Drupal 9 is ... that it should not be a big deal". Indeed, rest assured, Drupal has thought of everything. It is possible to install in Drupal 8 a module to analyze the whole project (the contribution code and the custom code). "Upgrade status", that's its name, provides a detailed report that specifies the elements to be updated (themes and modules). So at a glance, you can see whether your project is ready for Drupal 9. If it is not, simply update the highlighted modules and check the proposed corrections to your code.

At Contraste Digital, it is our policy to always provide state-of-the-art developments. This is why our modules do not include deprecated code. Your sites will therefore be directly compatible with Drupal 9! Migrating to Drupal 9 will be as fast as moving from Drupal 8.7 to 8.8 for example.

As you will have understood, Drupal 9 tends to perpetuate the effort made since version 8 and to improve it to reach optimal quality. Owners of sites in Drupal 8 can therefore be reassured and continue to trust their partners to keep their sites up to date and efficient.

When to migrate to Drupal 9?

The answer is not that simple. Currently nearly 70% of the modules in the top 200 downloads are compatible with Drupal 9. And the picture is even more mixed if you look at all the modules available for Drupal 8. For sites that are already in production, we recommend that you regularly monitor the evolution in order to switch over when all the modules used by your site are compatible with Drupal 9.

For new projects, there is no need to worry about committing to Drupal 9, as long as the expected Drupal features are already available in this new version. If, however, some features are not yet available, you can start your project with Drupal 8 and later upgrade to version 9. The Drupal community is large and dynamic. This will most likely make it possible to quickly make the majority of modules compatible.

What are the next steps?

The release of Drupal 9.1 is scheduled for the end of the year. It will include real functional evolutions. Drupal plans to release two minor updates per year. As a reminder, the end of life of Drupal 7 is planned at the same time as the end of the life of version 8, currently set for the end of 2021.

With this update, Drupal remains by far a reference in the world of CMS. It is the first choice of our teams in terms of web content management solutions in the context of projects aimed at strengthening the digital presence of companies. Information sites, extranet or intranet portals, site-to-site factories, custom applications, we develop platforms based on Drupal to enhance productivity.

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Web consultant & Drupal specialist