Drupal 9 and Why It’s Time to Upgrade
7 Aug 2021

What’s New in Drupal 9 and Why It’s Time to Upgrade

Drupal 9 was released on June 3, 2020, marking the end of a long run for Drupal 8, which will reach its end-of-life in November 2021. In addition to the looming end-of-life for Drupal 8, Drupal 7, which currently runs over 700,000 websites worldwide, will also lose support in 2022.

What this means that for websites currently running older versions of Drupal depends on exactly which version is being used. For those who are currently on Drupal 8, the upgrade to Drupal 9 will be relatively straightforward, feeling more like minor update than a major release. But for those currently on Drupal 7 the upgrade to 8 – or 9 – will be a little more involved; however, with one end-of-life extension already granted and another highly unlikely, there is no more time to waste.

Why Upgrade to Drupal 9?

Clearly, losing support is the main driver for updating to Drupal 9. Continued software support is vital to operating a functional website; your website won’t suddenly stop working past the end-of-life date, however there will be no more security updates, software fixes, and newly released features. This will lead to diminished site performance and leave your website vulnerable to hackers and malware. It is recommended that businesses upgrade to the latest version of Drupal in order to:

• Maintain access to important security features and updates, preventing dangerous data or infrastructure attacks.
• Keep up with projects, themes, and contributed modules built and maintained by the Drupal Community. Websites that do not update will be “stuck” in their current state, with no support to maintain or fix issues with their websites or current modules
• Avoid being flagged by third party scans as not secure

New Features in Drupal 9

Losing support is not the only reason to upgrade to Drupal 9, however. This new version of Drupal also comes with many new features that can help improve your website’s functionality, particularly if you are upgrading from Drupal 7.

If your website is already using Drupal 8, you will find that all of the features you have now are included in the Drupal 9 upgrade, with a few improvements. And unlike the 7 to 8 upgrade, this one should be a very simple, smooth transition. Significant features include:

• Backward Compatibility: All your Drupal 8 data, modules, and configurations will run in Drupal 9.
• Improved Performance: Drupal 9 provides responsive images without massive amounts of data consumption, allowing for faster, better performing applications.
• Cleaner Code Base: Drupal 9 gets rid of all the deprecated code from Drupal 8, leaving you with a cleaner code base and improved website performance.
• Updated Versions of Symfony and Twig: Drupal 9 will support the latest major releases of Symfony and Twig, permitting your website to benefit from enhanced performance, better developer tools, and improved security.
• New Visual Design Tools: Layout Builder will replace Panelizer, allowing for improved page building capabilities.
• Headless CMS: Drupal 9 disconnects the front-end design and back-end content management systems, which allows for the creation of highly customized, strong UX and UI designs without the influence of your framework.

The end result is that Drupal 9 is easier and more accessible for users, web developers, and designers, providing more flexibility, customizability, and performance than its predecessors. Following the upgrade to Drupal 9 you will benefit from:

• More control and flexibility over content presentation and UX for front-end designers and marketing teams
• Simpler to maintain and upgrade for developers
• Better performance
• Continued security support

With Drupal 8 end-of-life approaching quickly, and a simple upgrade process, there is no reason not to make the change to Drupal 9 now and benefit from all that comes with this latest Drupal release.