Drupal 8 vs Drupal 9: Should you upgrade?

Alliance  ·  July 01, 2021

The Drupal platform is a secure and reliable open source CMS that has some awesome features when it comes to functionality and content presentation. Drupal 9 is the latest iteration includes a powerful set of new features that can help upgrade an existing site or if you’re looking for a Drupal development company to build a new one. 

With the release of Drupal 9 in 2020, we wanted to share some of the new features included with the latest version of the platform that were not previously available for Drupal 8 users.

Drupal End of Life

If your business’s website currently runs on an older version of Drupal, you will want to prepare to update to the newer version of the platform as the older versions will have reached their end of life stage. 

Drupal end of life (EOL) basically means that a particular version of the platform is no longer supported by the Drupal community. This means that the community will no longer be making updates, fixing security bugs, supporting or providing assistance on projects, or producing new themes or templates. Any businesses using these outdated platforms will potentially risk their website security and ability to easily make updates on the site. 

Projected EOL Dates for Drupal 7 and 8:

Drupal 7 EOL: November 2022

Drupal 8 EOL: November 2nd, 2021 

Drupal 8 Features:

Drupal 8 brought some amazing new features for content presentation, such as built-in themes and responsive design. For editors, it offered client-side editing, drag and drop features, and built-in themes.

Drupal 9 Release Date

Drupal 9 was released on June 3, 2020. If your website already runs on Drupal 8, you are in luck, as the transition to Drupal 9 was designed to be a fairly smooth and easy process.

The goal behind the release of Drupal 9 was to make upgrades an easier process for Drupal users. Previous changes made to each new Drupal release required large overhauls with many sections of the platform being completely reinvented. This required more work in the migration for Drupal websites with each new upgrade.

Drupal 9, however, was designed to utilize the existing structure of Drupal 8, making it much easier to upgrade to the newest version of the platform. Drupal 9 will also be updated every 6 months or so as improvements are continued to be made within the Drupal community.

While the differences between Drupal 8 and 9 are not drastic, there are a few differences to be noted:

  • Drupal 9 will offer supported updates every few months
  • Drupal 9 will have a cleaner code base through the removal of any depreciated code from Drupal 8 
  • Drupal 9 will offer faster performance features through the inclusion of BigPipe
  • Drupal 9 offers multilingual capabilities
  • Drupal 9 provides updated versions of Symfony and Twig for an improved development experience
  • Modules that will work on Drupal 8 and 9
  • Removal of the panelizer
  • Drupal 9 offers multiple content workflows

1. Updates every few months and a cleaner code base

The idea behind Drupal 9 was to make updates much easier moving forward. By removing the depreciated code from Drupal 8, the update to Drupal 9 is fairly simple and hassle free. The plan is to continue updates and improvements every six months or so for Drupal 9, making it easier for Drupal to continue offering a great user experience through a well-performing and secure website.

2. Better performance features through an updated version of of BigPipe

BigPipe was a module introduced in Drupal 8 that allows users to load and render page blocks that have high cache invalidation or are uncacheable, to improve streaming capabilities. This improved stream response results in much faster front end performance for a website. Drupal 9 has an updated version of BigPipe to provide even better performance capabilities.

3. Multilingual improvements

Drupal 9 offers improvements to the Multilingual module so website administrations can offer translation features for website visitors to make it accessible to a wider audience range.

4. Updated versions of Symfony and Twig for an improved development experience

Drupal 9 will include updates to Symfony version 4 and Twig 2.0. These updates will provide a better development experience, as well as improvements to website performance and security.

5. Improved module experiences

All modules that work on Drupal 8 have been integrated to also work within Drupal 9, reducing the workload for development teams in having to transition to new modules during migrations.

6. Removal of the Panelizer

The panels module in Drupal 8 provided site administrators with the ability to create custom layouts and organize its content. Drupal 9 will remove the Panelizer and replace it with the Layout Builder. The Layout Builder provides even more powerful, flexible design tools and drag and drop features that allow content creators to customize page layouts. 

7. Ability to define multiple content workflows

Drupal 9 includes a new Content Moderation module, which allows site administrators to add multiple workflows and view a full list of them on one page. This module provides more flexibility to content editors and marketers to manage their own content in a much more organized manner

These features make Drupal 9 an extremely attractive choice for businesses looking to upgrade their website from Drupal 8.

Need Help Upgrading Your Drupal Website?

Upgrading to the latest version of Drupal 9 will allow your business to remain supported by the Drupal community, as well as take advantage of new content flexibility, responsive design, and improved performance. Alliance Interactive is a Washington, DC Drupal company that offers a full service team for assistance with Drupal website support, design, and development.