the number 9
Everything You Should Know About Drupal 9
2019-12-23
Old Moon Digital

Drupal 9 is coming! Drupal 9 is coming! In June of 2020, Drupal 9 will be here, and developers and website owners alike are already starting to think about how they’re going to upgrade to this new version of the popular open-source content management system.

Are you excited about the arrival of Drupal 9? Are you worried about handling the transition? If so, you’ve come to the right place. Read on to learn everything you need to know about Drupal 9 and how you can get ready for its impending arrival.

What is Drupal 9?

One of the most popular questions that people have about this new version of Drupal is “what is so special about Drupal 9?” and “what kind of features is it going to offer?”

Drupal 9 boasts a couple of important updates that just about everyone will appreciate, including the following:

Code Clean-Up

One of the main reasons for the release of Drupal 9 is simple code clean-up. Drupal 9 will get rid of deprecated code (code that should no longer be used because a better version exists) as well as other aspects of the CMS that no longer serve a purpose.

Third-Party Integration

Drupal integrates with some common PHP (Hypertext Preprocessor) projects, including Twig and Symfony. Because of this integration, updates are needed to support these other projects. Symfony and Twig are both getting their own upgrades -- Symfony 4 and 5 are on the way, as is Twig 2 -- so Drupal needs an upgrade as well.

Will There Be Any Special Features?

You may be a bit disappointed to learn that Drupal 9 is not expected to have any particularly new or noteworthy features. This update is mostly meant for cleanup and improved integration. From a features standpoint, it won’t look much different from Drupal 8.

How to Prepare

You might not be getting a lot of special features, but that doesn’t mean you can’t or shouldn’t be excited for Drupal 9.

You will see some changes still, and it’ll be nice to have everything working a little more smoothly on the back-end. Remember, too, that after the initial upgrade to Drupal 9 happens, you will continue to see updates every six months.

If you’re worried about how to prepare for Drupal 9, make sure you follow these steps:

Check for Deprecated Code

Remember, one of the most important aspects of Drupal 9 is the removal of deprecated code. Unless you want to run the risk of certain parts of your site no longer working in the proper way, you should make sure you don’t have any deprecated code that Drupal 9 will eliminate. 

There are lots of tools you can use to check for deprecated code, including Drupal Check and Rector. Run these tools early to figure out if there’s any code you need to remove and update.

Fix Your Deprecated Code

Once you’ve identified your deprecated code, you need to make a plan to fix it.

The sooner you start updating your code, the better. Either handle it yourself or reach out to your web developer and let them know that you’re going to need parts of your code updated as soon as possible.

Don’t wait until the last minute. You may think you have plenty of time to get ready, but Drupal 9 will be here before you know it.

Review the Release Notes

Make sure you review the release notes for Drupal 9, too.

These notes will give you important insight into the core features and what aspects of your code you may want to change or swap out to fit with the newest version of Drupal.

Again, the sooner you do this, the better. That way, you won’t be scrambling at the last second.

Don’t Hesitate to Automate

Finally, don’t hesitate to automate as many processes associated with your site as possible. The more you can automate, the less likely you are to run into trouble when updates arrive.

Automating also frees you up to focus on other aspects of your website or your clients’ websites, such as special features that align with the organization’s overall mission.

Tips for Upgrading

Here’s some additional advice that can help you enjoy a smooth upgrading process:

Keep Your Core Up-to-Date

Start by making sure your website’s core is up-to-date. If you don’t have a ton of deprecated code on the backend of your site, you will be able to smoothly transition from the latest version of Drupal 8 to Drupal 9. In fact, there’s a good chance you’ll barely notice the changes at all, as long as you’ve done the work to make things easier for your future self.

Keep Your Modules Up-to-Date

In addition to keeping the core up-to-date, make sure the modules are up-to-date as well. This, again, will help to eliminate deprecated code and the need for that code to be cleaned up. Keeping your modules updated also ensures that you won’t lose them when the update happens.

Check Your Custom Code

When you’re reviewing your code and looking for deprecated code that needs to be removed or updated, pay special attention to your custom code, which can be easy to overlook if you’re not careful.

The same tools you use to identify deprecated code, such as Rector and Drupal Check, will work here. You can also use an Integrated Development Environment or a code editor that understands code deprecations and can help you spot them.

Get Ready for Drupal 9 Today

There’s no need to panic about the newest version of Drupal. If you keep the information laid out above in mind, you’ll have no trouble upgrading and getting used to it. Focus on identifying and updating your deprecated code and don’t forget to keep your core and modules up-to-date. As long as you take these steps, you’ll be on the right track and more than ready for the Drupal 9 release.

Remember, if you survived the transition from Drupal 7 to Drupal 8, upgrading from 8 to 9 will be a breeze!

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