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Why Is It Important to Upgrade from Drupal 7 to Drupal 9?

Drupal 7 is nearing its end of life: it will officially retire on November 1, 2023, and Drupal 8 support has already ended on November 2, 2021.

Although Drupal 9 has been available since 3 June, 2020, hundreds of thousands of websites are still running on Drupal 7 and 8. If yours is one of them, we strongly recommend upgrading to version 9.

What Does the End of Support Mean?

First, a security risk. After the end of support, Drupal will no longer release security updates for previous versions, and regular installation of these is the most important thing to keep your site and your customers' data as secure as possible.

Also, as there will be no bug fixes and new developments released for outdated versions, websites based on older versions may not work properly. Modules may also become unstable as developers stop working on modules created for outdated versions.

If you stay with version 7 or 8 and want to request new features or improvements to your site, implementing them on the old version will take more time and therefore cost more.

What's New in Drupal 9

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Compared to version 7, Drupal 8 and the slightly different 9 have been completely rewritten using state-of-the-art technologies.

The main difference between Drupal 9 and 8 is that the deprecated code has been removed from 8, so switching from version 8 to 9 is a simple task — as it will be for all future versions. This is one of the main goals of the complete rewrite of the content management system: to make it easy to upgrade to all new versions in the future.

Drupal 9 is also much faster than any of its predecessors, including Drupal 8 (which included code from version 7 that has been removed from Drupal 9), due to employing state-of-the-art technologies. Therefore, sites based on Drupal 9 provide a better user experience, and they are also much more effective in terms of SEO.

Not only the user experience, but also the content editing experience has been significantly improved compared to previous versions: the media library, the CKEditor, the configurable toolbar all make content uploading and editing easier and more enjoyable.

Accessibility and integration with new devices and applications were also important goals in the development of version 8/9.

Upgrading from Drupal 7 to 9

Switching from version 7 to version 9 is not a simple upgrade, as the code of the two versions has nothing in common, they are based on different technologies. While version 7 is based on custom Drupal code, version 9 (and version 8) uses the Symfony framework, which is written in PHP. Furthermore, there are no modules that are compatible with both the old and newer versions.

Therefore, in the vast majority of cases, switching from 7 to 9 involves rebuilding the website.

Upgrading from Drupal 8 to 9

The upgrade from version 8 to version 9 means replacing the modules that are not supported in Drupal 9 in order for the upgraded website to keep its functionalities while staying secure and stable. To accomplish this, we first need to inspect the modules that the website uses and find those that have not been kept in version 9. Then 2 things can happen:

  1. The simpler case is when a given module has a successor module (with a different name), and it can fetch data from its predecessor.
  2. If there is no such successor module, we need to inspect the functionality of that module thoroughly, what it does on the website, how it works, and then find a replacement that is compatible with version 9 so that the end result looks and functions the same as in the previous version, and is just as easy to upload data into. We can do this in a good majority of cases with our own page builder solution, and when we cannot, we develop a module for it, or transfer data manually.

Want to Upgrade to Drupal 9?

It is not always necessary to rebuild the entire website to upgrade to Drupal 9 — there are cases when it can be accomplished with a simple migration. Send us your website URL and we'll let you know what is the optimal way to upgrade your website to Drupal 9.

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