Every new version of Drupal has had the headache of the upgrade path - from 5 to 6, from 6 to 7, from 7 to 8. What this often meant was re-building the site in the new version and then doing a migration of the content. This was expensive for clients. With Drupal 9 (and the versions that will follow), this is now a thing of the past.
Drupal 9 is the exact same codebase as the last version of Drupal 8, with just two changes:
- Updates of dependencies to versions that stay supported
- Removal of our custom Drupal code that has been marked as deprecated
This means, if your site is running on Drupal 8 and your developer kept it updated to the latest version of Drupal 8, you just need to make sure that any contributed modules and custom code is not using deprecated functions. If that's the case, hey presto - your website is Drupal 9 ready. I don't think we can underscore how good a feature this is strongly enough.
But surely there are some new features? No, not in this release - and that's good for now. For Drupal 9, we have the same feature set from Drupal 8. Drupal 8 introduced the idea of new features in each minor version (8.1, 8.2, etc) rather than having to wait for the next major version (Drupal 9). This means Drupal, during the 8.x lifecycle, got lots of new features - media in core, umami magazine profile (for which I am a core maintainer), layout builder, JSONAPI, and more. For Drupal 9.0, there are no new features, though that will change from 9.1. Once we get over this first release, expect new features again every 6 months.
Why Upgrade to Drupal 9
Drupal 8.9 will be released alongside Drupal 9. It will be the last release of Drupal 8. Although Drupal 8 will receive security updates to patch any security vulnerabilities that are found, it will not receive any new features. Drupal 8 will receive these security patches for about one more year, and then you will need to have your site updated.
If your site is up to date with the current release of Drupal 8, you might as well update immediately if you can. And if you want the new features that are going to be introduced and supported by Drupal core, you need to be using Drupal 9.
Am I Happy?
I'm delighted with this new approach to Drupal. I came to Drupal as a site builder and moved on to being a themer and then frontend developer. I was always terrified of trying to upgrade from 6 to 7 to 8. I'd still be very nervous about writing a migration script - thankfully we have very capable people here at Annertech to do that for me. But with Drupal 9, I have no fears of upgrading, since it's as easy as updating from 8.3 to 8.4. I love the cautiousness of not bringing out any new features between Drupal 8.9 and 9.0. Let's just have the codebase tidied up and let things settle in; then get back to our nice release schedule.
THANKS to everyone who put so many hours into making Drupal 9 possible!
Article written by Mark Conroy (https://www.annertech.com/blog/drupal-9-launches-today)