There’s no getting around it: Website redesigns are expensive, arduous processes. From project management to quality testing, the challenges involved in undergoing such a design overhaul are legion. Given the costs involved and the extent of labor needed to update any given site, delaying or putting off a major design overhaul is an understandable stance from business owners.
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Drupal sites are not exempt from this reality. For businesses running sites on earlier versions of Drupal, upgrading to Drupal 8 represents a daunting task. With reasoning varying from typical costs to unsupported functionalities, forgoing a Drupal 8 migration has long been the norm. Though Drupal 8 launched back in 2015, adoption has been slow. Globally, there are around 71,000 live sites using Drupal 8 compared to over 333,000 live sites using Drupal 7.
It’s time for that to change.
With a suite of new and updated features, Drupal 8 has never been more of an asset. We’ve covered some of the benefits of a D8 migration in the past, but the framework only grows more robust each day. The development community continues to break new ground on Drupal 8, making it a robust solution for all manner of business needs.
Beyond Drupal 8’s virtues, another, more pressing, reason to upgrade is rearing its head: the end of a lifecycle. As laid out in a blog post, Drupal founder Dries Buytaert has revealed the timetable for the launch of Drupal 9. The new version is expected to launch on June 3, 2020, rather than an initially projected December release.
Why the accelerated timeline? One of the major dependencies for current Drupal cores is the PHP framework Symfony. The end-of-life date for the latest version, Symfony 3, will be in November 2021. To maintain site security, Drupal 8’s end-of-life is also tied to this date. To reiterate, by November 2021, everyone should have upgraded to Drupal 9. For everyone running Drupal 7 sites, the same deadline applies.
Luckily, there’s good news. Once your site is upgraded to Drupal 8, moving over to Drupal 9 will be a much easier transition. This is because Drupal 9 is being built on Drupal 8 rather than on an entirely new codebase; the main work that will need to be done mostly involves removing deprecated code and updating dependencies. From a site owner’s standpoint, this means that functionality from Drupal 8 sites will carry over to ones on Drupal 9. With this level of backward compatibility, meeting the deadline of November 2021 will likely be smoother than a full-on website redesign.
Given the eventual sunsetting of Symfony 3, moving to Drupal 9 is inevitable. The choice to make now is whether to ride out Drupal 7 and then upgrade to 9 before November 2021 or to upgrade to Drupal 8 first. After taking into account the value of Drupal 8, though, it isn’t really much of a choice at all. Easier integrations, a more robust content authoring interface and, crucially, mobile responsiveness are all features that make Drupal 8 sites feel more modern to users and more accessible to owners. Setting all of these bells and whistles aside, a move to Drupal 8 early on will prepare businesses for the eventual, inevitable switch to Drupal 9. Staying ahead of the development curve while adding improved site functionality is a win-win proposition that can put any business ahead.
In the coming months, we will be taking a deep dive into more of the reasons why upgrading to Drupal 8 is the right move. In the meantime, reach out to us if you have any questions about the process or the challenges involved.