Drupal 9 is Coming June 2020 - Are you Ready?
Managing enterprise software that continues to innovate is sometimes a complex process. Your partners here at KWALL want to help make sure you're ready for that innovation and offer multiple methods to support you through updates and upgrades. If you're interested in our help please let us know. Below we hope to add some clarity on questions we get about "end of life" Drupal.
First let's break down what "end of life" means in the Drupal world. End of life for Drupal means a lack of core support for updates / upgrades to modules or the core system and could also mean that the community might not provide security patches or review for versions considered at the end of life.
This can be somewhat confusing since when there's been drastic issues to Drupal that were found also in Drupal 7 that the team has posted updates on Drupal.org due to the severity of the security issue. If an issue is so severe, the Drupal.org team will continue to support those and supply patches. If there are minor issues or reaching issues it will likely not warrant a patch or update. Being on an end of life system has the potential to leave you more vulnerable to security issues and bugs that won't be updated on core or modules.
If I'm on an old version of Drupal that will become end of life what will happen?
Nothing, unlike licensed software you've created your unique system out of Drupal open source code. The system is yours and there's no tie to a licensing server or system to turn it off, your software or website is perpetually yours and if you don't have any issues staying on the codebase you are on you can stay on it as long as you like. There's no off switch and you don't absolutely have to move over by a specific timeframe. In our experience most of the systems we work on or develop have a high complexity due to the innovative content management features and large amount of site users / authors. Since some of these systems have hundreds of content authors and complex integrations, it's important to take a full assessment of what it will take to migrate.
What issues might I face if I'm on an old version?
- Your hosting partner might force their platform past the point of compatibility if you use a managed hosting like Acquia or Pantheon, etc.
- You may have unknown security issues
- You may have modules with bugs or code that doesn't get any community updates
- You may not be compatible with future community modules or core code features
- You may have to do your own review of issues in your core and modules - apply patches yourself
What does it take to upgrade from Drupal 6,7 to 8 and beyond?
The codebase for Drupal 6 and 7 were very similar giving modules and updates a more simple approach. The big change to Drupal 8 was a complete rewrite of literally everything. Drupal 8 out of the gate was a new software and even though there is some migration from prior versions built in it didn't include a seamless update. It's best to look at Drupal 8 and 9 as a time to start fresh from Drupal 7 and although some of the fields, flow, and methods of using Drupal are essentially the same any custom code or modules that enhance core work totally different and you should expect that it will work different or act different. There's even a risk that some of the modules required to run your current system aren't available anymore since the community may have abandoned it or rewritten it.
What will be the big difference from Drupal 8 to 9?
The base of Drupal 8 and 9 is a product called symfony. This base system helped Drupal 8 and future versions from writing all the code from scratch, but we've got to follow it's versions now as well. This shift will take on the new version of Symfony and keep Drupal on the latest there as well. Features and system of Drupal will be the same as Drupal 8 and your content managers won't see any real change.
What will it take to upgrade from Drupal 8 to 9?
Since the update from Drupal 7-8 was an incredibly large endeavor the Drupal team wants to make the change to Drupal 9 just a simple upgrade where everything still "just works". Essentially when you update to the latest version of Drupal 8, you'll upgrade to 9 and everything would be backwards compatible. Time will tell of course, but that's the plan.
If you'd like to meet with us and plan out your upgrade or updates please feel free to reach out!
Some additional reading on the topic:
* Timeline image courtesy of Drupal.org