Drupal 9 has arrived — what does that mean for institution websites that still use Drupal 7 and 8? Here’s a closer look. 


Drupal 9 (D9) was released earlier this year and offers a number of upgrades over its predecessors, Drupal 7 and 8 (D7 and D8) As such, higher education institutions that currently use D7 and D8 are rapidly planning their migrations to D9 so they can reap the benefits of this state-of-the-art content management system (CMS). 


Your college or university may enjoy D7 and D8, but time is running out to migrate these CMS platforms. D7 will reach end-of-support on Nov. 28, 2021, and D8 will do the same on Nov. 28, 2022. 


When D7 and D8 reach their end of support, Drupal will no longer provide security updates. So, your college or university can continue to use Drupal 7 or Drupal 8, but you could face myriad cyber risks if it does so. 


If you’re concerned that your higher education institution will fall behind the 8-ball relative to D9, there is no need to panic. In fact, there are several things you can do to prepare for a seamless transition from Drupal 7 or 8 to Drupal 9. 



How to determine which version of Drupal you are currently using


To determine which version of Drupal you are currently using, log in to your Drupal account and go to the Administration section. Next, select Reports, followed by Status Reports. 


You’ll see a table that lists various Drupal information, including the version of Drupal in place. Any status report that shows a Drupal version that begins with 7.xx or 8.xx indicates you’ll need to upgrade to D9 soon. 


How to migrate from D7 to D9


If you’re on D7 and want to move to D9, compatibility issues may arise along the way. These issues could occur if you previously failed to upgrade from D7 to D8, and they can make it a complex and lengthy process to move to D9. 


To avoid computability issues as you migrate from D7 to D9, you may want to consider a complete website overhaul. This is a great opportunity to redesign your website so it is user-friendly and runs beautifully on D9. 


A website redesign can deliver immediate and long-lasting benefits, particularly when you partner with a team of web design experts. Your higher education institution can identify opportunities to optimize the site’s layout, ensure it caters to desktop and mobile users, and help generate as much website traffic as possible. 


Of course, if you decide to stay the course with your current website, an option is available that allows you to do just that. In this instance, you should migrate your site’s content and code to D8 first. Following this migration, remove any deprecated code and then upgrade to D9. The stepped transition will avoid the risk of many D7-to-D9 compatibility issues and time-consuming fixes.


How to migrate from D8 to D9


Migrating from D8 to D9 is much simpler than transitioning from D7 to D9. Simply remove any deprecated modules and APIs from D8 and verify that your D8 dependencies are up to date. At this point, you can upgrade from D8 to D9 quickly and securely. 


When you move from D8 to D9, all of your D8 components should still work in D9. If you use contributed D8 modules, you can upgrade these in D9 as well. 


What to expect when your website uses Drupal 9


It may seem like a big jump from D7/8 to D9, but there is a lot to like about the new version of Drupal, including several useful new features:


1. Backwards compatibility


D9 is designed to help users keep their CMS platform up to date and clutter-free. It is backward compatible, so D8 users can easily migrate to D9. When the next version of Drupal is released, moving on from D9 should be easy. 


2. Site performance


D9 offers a new caching system to help minimize web page load times. The CMS platform also supports responsive images and ensures that mobile users will be able to view your site’s images without having to worry about consuming massive amounts of data. 


3. Content 


D9 provides a new page layout builder, so your higher education institution can immediately set up new web pages that hit the mark with visitors. Additionally, D9 offers content workflow tools and a media management system to help control your site’s content and media like never before. 


The bottom line on Drupal 9


If you are stressed out about transitioning from D7/8 to D9, try not to worry. Moving from one version of Drupal to the next is generally required every few years, but the process of transitioning from D7/8 to D9 is designed to limit errors along the way and make it easier to upgrade in the future. 


Once you move to D9, you can enjoy the benefits of the new version of Drupal right away. Meanwhile, if you want to get the most value out of your D9 experience or revamp your website as you transition to D9, KWALL is happy to assist you. 

We can help you map out an effective strategy for your higher education institution’s website. We also provide maintenance and support plans, so you can keep your site consistently running at peak levels. Discover how we can help your higher education institution leverage D9 and optimize its web experience: Contact KWALL for a site audit today!



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