Drupal 8 may be ending in November 2021, but it will save you thousands by avoiding a total rebuild project to get to Drupal 9. That is definitely something worth telling your Finance Team.
Before Drupal 8 arrived five years ago, it promised a cost effective upgrade path to Drupal 9. It extended the practical lifetime of your platform that means you're not currently having to work out how to manage a new website build, and gives you a greater return on your Drupal 8 investment.
The message is that by choosing Drupal 8 when you did, you are now not having to make the case for a significant website build. For long term Drupal users, your Finance Team may have been bracing themselves for a serious spend about now, with sites often needing rebuilds every five years or so, but in this case you can tell them to relax.
The main takeaway is that the technical underpinnings are being kept up to date and future-proof, so that the platform continues to deliver the promise of extended longevity. In time, Drupal 9 to Drupal 10 will follow this same philosophy - so there continues to be no need for a full rebuild at any point in the foreseeable future.
What is the difference between Drupal 8 and 9?
The whole point of the new upgrade path is that we see smaller changes over the course of time, instead of everything being bundled into big new version launches every few years.
So Drupal 9.0 does not add new features above the ones already in 8.9, it does let you capitalise on the twice a year minor versions of Drupal 9 that are in the pipeline. These will have new features, and Version 9.1 already gives us better accessibility for filters on Views, full compatibility with PHP 8.0, multiple code and technical changes, and continued evolution of new themes and core modules. And that is just in Core, the trove of Drupal Community modules will continue to be developed based around Drupal 9, delivering more new features in the future
What does moving from Drupal 8 to 9 actually mean?
Drupal 9 upgrades your code base to more modern code. Your modules need to be updated to match and your theme and custom modules need to be reviewed for compatibility and modified where needed. Once all the modules and theme have been updated, the upgrade process is straightforward.
At NDP, we use a couple of community developed tools along with our code editing tools to check the entire website for any references to code which needs to be updated.This mean your upgrade project takes days, not months.
Drupal 9.1 is currently available and was released on 2 December 2020.
16 June 2021
Drupal 9.2 will be released. This follows the pattern of new feature releases every 6 months.
You should be on Drupal 9 as security updates to Drupal 8 will end on 2nd November 2021. This coincides with the end of support for an underlying application framework called Symfony.
What can I do instead of a big project?
Avoiding a major costly project, and having a cost effective platform that is future proofing as you go, means that you are in a strong position to invest in your site in ways that give you the best return. At NDP we go beyond support meet your business goals, and would love to hear what you have planned in the future, to ensure your site reflects those plans.
Some of the ideas we have seen growing in popularity recently are:
Increasing the amount that your site does to support business processes. This can be closer integration with your CRM, supporting content production, and greater customer self serve.
Companies are relying on their customer's digital experience to give them a competitive edge. This means understanding your competition, your audience and how to apply these insights to your digital brand.
Optimising landing pages to increase CRO and decrease CPA. With a stable base to build on there is the long term job of driving up conversion rates, and lowering the cost of paid advertising, both targets can be met with more relevant and engaging landing pages.