Drupal 9: Fact or Fiction?

As we get closer to Drupal 9’s release, what changes should you expect, and how do you prepare for the migration?

Later this year, the eagerly awaited Drupal 9 will be released. While we have the newly published “Ultimate Guide to Drupal 9” as a handy resource to help you prepare for a move to Drupal 9, I wanted to take this time to go over some of the rumors around this upcoming major release and separate fact from fiction.


1. “When Drupal 9 is released, Drupal 7 and 8 will reach their ends of life.”


Fiction. While it’s true that if you’re running Drupal 7 or 8, you’ll want to upgrade to Drupal 9 so you receive continued support, community support lasts until November 2021 for both — it does not end on June 3 when Drupal 9 is scheduled for release. And if you’re still not ready to make the transition from Drupal 7 at that point, Acquia is a participant in the D7 Vendor Extended Support (D7ES) program and will offer customers extended support for another 3 years until the end of 2024. 


2. “Drupal 9 will be the same as Drupal 8.”


Mostly Fact. Drupal 9 was mostly built in Drupal 8, so it will offer the same user experience and great features you’ve come to expect. But it also comes with some under-the-hood upgrades to dependencies, such as Symfony, jQuery UI and Twig, as well as increased system requirements, to ensure the platform remains safe and stable for years to come.

3. “We’ll lose some of the features that we love in Drupal 8.”


Fiction. Drupal 9 will come with all of the features and functionalities of Drupal 8 that have been updated and added to over the last 5 years, including these much-loved improvements:

  • Layout Builder - To provide content layout capabilities
  • Media - To allow uploading and reusing images, videos and other assets
  • BigPipe - A performance improvement that allows the main content of a page to be sent quickly while sidebar and auxiliary content are still being generated
  • Mobile Experience - To include responsive design into all functionality, including an admin toolbar that automatically reorients itself depending on screen size
  • API-First Support - To enable using Drupal as a content back end for JavaScript front ends, mobile applications and more


4. “Moving to Drupal 9 will be a complete rebuild.”


Fact and fiction. Depending on what you’re currently running, the move to Drupal 9 could be either a straightforward process or a rebuild. Migrating from Drupal 7 to Drupal 9 does require a rebuild. To streamline the migration, there are numerous tools available, such as Upgrade Status (Drupal 7 version), Drupal Module Upgrader and the Core Migrate Suite. We also have the “Migrating to Drupal 8: It’s Time” e-book, which offers more information on how to make sure your migration goes smoothly.

On the other hand, upgrading from Drupal 8 to Drupal 9 will be more streamlined and take a lot less time than any other major Drupal upgrade you’ve made in the past decade. In “Ultimate Guide to Drupal 9,” we outline the steps you should take now to prepare your Drupal 8 site for a migration.


5. "Drupal 9 will not have any new features."


Fact and fiction. Drupal 9.0 itself will not have any new features compared to the latest versions of Drupal 8, because this release focuses on making a smooth upgrade path available. However, with Drupal 9.1 (to be released in December 2020) onwards, new features will continue to be added. For example, a team of enthusiastic contributors are working on the new Olivero front-end theme to become the default theme of future versions of Drupal 9.

As we get closer and closer to Drupal 9’s release, I want to reiterate this point from Drupal founder and project lead, Dries Buytaert: “The big deal about Drupal 9 is...that it should not be a big deal.” So as long as you keep up with Drupal 8 updates, use the latest version of dependencies and don’t use deprecated modules and APIs, you’ll enjoy a relatively smooth migration to Drupal 9.

Featured Resources

View More Resources