We’ve talked about the end of life of Drupal 8 since it was first announced, and now it is actually here. If your current website still runs on Drupal 8, there is no better time than now to make the upgrade.
What does end of life mean?
Fortunately, it does not mean everything will stop working all of a sudden. However, it will only be a matter of time before something goes wrong. This is because once the end of life is reached, the community no longer maintains the code, bugs are not fixed, vulnerabilities are not identified or removed, compatibility is not updated.
Imagine a car that will not be maintained ever again, it will still run and work just fine in the beginning, but eventually, the brakes will wear out, the blinker lightbulb will fail, the battery will die, and becomes an unsafe car to drive on the road. This is what end of life for Drupal looks like.
Steps to upgrade to Drupal 9
The good news is that upgrading Drupal 8 to Drupal 9 is a much easier process than Drupal 7 to Drupal 8. Here are the simplified steps you need to take to upgrade to Drupal 9.
Step 1 - Compatibility
If you are already on the latest version of Drupal 8, then you are compatible with Drupal 9 already, if not, install the minor updates to the latest version of Drupal 8.
Step 2 - modules, themes, integrations
Before upgrading to Drupal 9, you need to make sure that all the dependencies on your website are ready for Drupal 9. In Drupal 9, some code and functions are deprecated and either need a new implementation or some form of refactoring to be Drupal 9 ready.
Most popular contrib modules and themes have made updates to be Drupal 9 ready and all you need to do is make sure your modules and themes are up to date. You can utilize the Upgrade Status module to check if your modules are Drupal 9 ready.
The bulk of the work might be in the custom modules or themes of your website. You will have to make sure there is no deprecated code in your custom implementations. This could be a simple switch from old syntax or function to a newer way, or there might be some refactoring and workarounds to do.
Step3 - make the upgrade.
Once you have updated Drupal core, as well as the modules, theme, and any customized code that needs to be updated, you are truly Drupal 9 ready. You can then upgrade to Drupal 9 and you will be safe again.
If you are not quite sure if your website is Drupal 9 ready or if you need some manual work on updating the customized code on your website, feel free to reach out to us and we will be more than happy to take a look at your website and give you a detailed report on what needs to be done to upgrade.
Future of Drupal
Currently, Drupal 9 is going to reach its end of life in November of 2023. This seems like a fairly short time considering the life span of previous Drupal versions such as Drupal 7 and Drupal 8.
The reason behind this is that just like your website depends on some modules, Drupal core itself has dependencies such as Symfony, CKEditor, PHP and Composer. As these dependencies come up with their own new major updates that don’t have backward compatibility, Drupal needs to make sure that it is up to date and the Drupal team has to change their version number as well.
The good news is that similar to Drupal 9 is built on Drupal 8, Drupal 10 will be built on Drupal 9 and the upgrade process should be straightforward. In fact, according to the creator of Drupal, they are working on more automation tools that will make the next upgrade even easier, they estimate that when it comes to upgrading from Drupal 9 to Drupal 10, it would potentially be possible to automate more than 90% of the work, while from 8 to 9 it was only about 30%.
What about Drupal 7
If your website is on Drupal 7, you have a bit more time to plan for your upgrade, this is because the end of life for Drupal 7 is in November of 2022. This might seem strange how it is a year later than Drupal 8 but because Drupal 7 and Drupal 8 are very different and the dependencies (as mentioned above) are different.
However, you should still consider upgrading your website as soon as possible because the process of upgrading from Drupal 7 to Drupal 9 takes a lot more effort and usually means a longer time is needed.
Right now, the best thing to do about your Drupal website is to upgrade it to Drupal 9 no matter which version of Drupal you are running on. We are a professional team of Drupal developers that can help you and your website be safe, secure and up to date. Let us know if you have any questions regarding your Drupal website and we will be happy to provide you with the answers you need.