Ground control to Drupal 9

Image depicting the Star Wars opening scene with the text "Drupal Version 9: The Last Migration"

Energising. Yes, it’s true! Not only will Drupal 9 be “the last migration” but the release candidate (going silver!) is due for a payload release in the week of May 4th 2020. Let the force be with the maintainers as they aim to reach the beta targets listed on drupal.org issue #3110198.

What is a release candidate?

Well, ever since Drupal 8, we’ve moonshot into an orbit of following semantic versioning (SemVer), meaning that we follow a strict standard which communicates the major, minor, and patch versions to consumers of the project.

The release candidate (RC), also known as “going silver”, is the last stage before the stable release. Think of the RC as the upper-stage in a Saturn V rocket which will propel Drupal onto interplanetary trajectories. Having said that, with the development of Drupal 8, we have been able to explore the local solar system as we were able to add new core features into Drupal while essentially building Drupal 9 inside it.

A solar eclipse

What do you mean by the last migration?

You must unlearn what you have learned. With the path of SemVer secure, the latest Drupal version will not require any migration as long as you keep your website up to date with the latest versions of the contributed modules as well as the latest version of Drupal core.

So if you’re running Drupal prior to version 8.8, then you might want to start to upgrade. This will ease your way into Drupal 9 by making the distance to upgrade much shorter (down to 12 parsecs!) and at warp speed matching the likes of the USS Enterprise.

The Hyperdrive to Drupal 9, what are the new features?

Just like a rocket, we’re jettisoning all the deprecated code from Drupal 8. We’ve also upgraded some of our third-party dependencies, most notable of these are:

  • Symfony, from version 3.4 to 4.4
  • Twig, from version 1.0 to 2.0

With Symfony being part of the underlying fuel that powers Drupal, and Twig being somewhat greeble-like, allowing a website to garner a unique fine-detailed design.

Other than that, there’s nothing else “new” per se, other than a change in our mindset. Henceforth, by just reading the instructions, every new upgrade to Drupal will end up being a soft landing.

Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy", Don't Panic

I have my towel, I’m ready for Drupal 9, how do I upgrade?

It’s not a trap, the upgrade from Drupal 8 to Drupal 9 can be summarised into these 6 steps:

  1. Ensure your hosting environment matches the platform requirements of Drupal 9.
  2. Update to Drupal 8.8x or 8.9.x (if not already on that version).
  3. Update all contributed projects and ensure they are Drupal 9 compatible.
  4. Make custom code Drupal 9 compatible.
  5. Update core codebase to Drupal 9.
  6. Run update.php.

For a full and up to date overview, read the official “Upgrading a Drupal 8 site to Drupal 9” documentation.

How much of the contrib module ecosystem is ready for Drupal 9?

With over 6,000 modules hosted on drupal.org, 40% are Drupal 9 ready, as seen in the readiness report from April 2020. The modules only require one small step to leap into D9 and that’s updating the “info.yml” file by adding the new “core_version_requirement” key, as noted in this Drupal 9 change record.

How do I boost my module to be ready for Drupal 9?

Patience you must have, my young Drupalwan. Some tools can help you such as Upgrade Status and Upgrade Rector. The latter being able to automate part of the process to make your module D9 compatible.

Get involved

You too can join the fight and ensure the first order, err, I mean help us to organise and prepare for the Drupal 9 launch. Jump in on Drupal Slack and join the #d9readiness channel as we hold weekly meetings every Monday evening.

What else is there? The Aki-Aki Festival?

Fortunately, we will not have to wait 42 years to celebrate but every 2 years. Yes, that’s right, we’ll be seeing the release of Drupal 10 in just over 2 years from now.

Do what I do. Hold tight and pretend it’s a plan!

I am actively involved in helping to resurrect the project for Drupal celebrations so that we can celebrate the launch of Drupal 9 together as a community. If you would like to get involved, then join the #d9launch channel on Drupal Slack because where we’re going, we don’t need roads. Furthermore, you can take part by filling in the Drupal 9 Global Launch Celebrations form.

E. T. home phone

Here at Amazee, we're getting ready for Drupal 9 by working on a plan for all of our modules to ensure they are ready for D9. On top of that, Lagoon, the open-source Docker build and deploy system used by amazee.io is already working on ensuring that it's ready to host Drupal 9 websites. 

If you haven't done so already, there's never been a better time to upgrade your site to ensure a smooth transition. If you need help with maintenance and updates, or it's time to start fresh with a new project, get in touch with us today!

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