The end is in sight for versions 7 and 8 of Drupal CMS. As they reach their ends of life come November 2021, it’s time to start thinking about upgrading to Drupal 9 which promises plenty of future-proofing and a hassle-free installation.

So what’s happening?

Despite continuous successful upgrades, it’s the end of the road for Drupal 8 and its predecessor 7 as Drupal 9 is released in 2020. According to the company’s lead developer Dries Buytaert, it can’t be any more specific than a 2020 date as bugs will still being getting ironed out. Support for Drupal 7 and 8 will cease in November 2021.

Why not just continue to upgrade Drupal 8?

A question on everyone’s lips (probably) as Drupal 8 is now in its sixth version and each upgrade has delivered consistent improvements. Unfortunately, forever updating the one version of a CMS isn’t a feasible approach. Drupal relies on a number of third-party dependencies like Twig, Guzzle and, most importantly, Symfony 3. Because Symfony 3 also reaches its end of life in November 2021, failing to upgrade to Drupal 9 would mean that Drupal sites would cease to be secure due to the fact that security bugs in Symfony 3 would no longer be repaired.

Do I need the hassle of a full systems upgrade?

Fear not! Drupal promises that the switch to Drupal 9 will be no more painful that changing to an upgraded version of Drupal 7 or 8. Buytaert says that: “By keeping your Drupal 8 sites up to date, you should be well prepared for Drupal 9.”

So what happens in the meantime?

Because Drupal 9 isn’t realised until 2020, there’ll still be another couple of minor releases for Drupal 8. To ease the transition to 9, the company makes two suggestions for action that you should take in the meantime. The first is that, if you’re staying on Drupal 7, you stick with it until 2021 and keep on top of your PHP updates. Drupal says that it will shortly update Drupal 7 to be compatible with PHP 7.2. The second is that if you haven’t already, migrating to Drupal 8 soon will make the transition to Drupal 9 a whole lot smoother.

What if I don’t want to upgrade?

You really should. It’ll make yours and everyone else’s life a lot easier. If for some reason you can’t (or really don’t want to) upgrade to Drupal 9, there are options. Much like how Drupal released an extended security support service for Drupal 6, it’s doing the same for Drupal 7. A long-term support service will be released for third-party vendors if you want to pay to have your Drupal 7 supported beyond November, 2021.

I’m worried!

Don’t be. We can help. If you’ve any questions or concerns about the Drupal upgrades, get in touch and we can discuss the best options for your website.