UPDATE: We've updated the content in this post to reflect the new planned date for the end of life for Drupal 7 - November 1, 2023. Read more about the Drupal 7 decision.
Released in June 2020, Drupal 9 is the latest version of Drupal. The open-source content management system (CMS) has always provided enterprise-level functionality at a fraction of operational costs of similar products. Still, its weak point has consistently been the upgrade path to new versions. While newer versions have continued to bring improved architecture, features and usability, the migration process has, at times, looked more like a major site rebuild than version updates – that is, until recently. With the numerous enhancements that comprised Drupal 8 and a significantly improved migration path from 8 to 9, now is the time to consider adopting Drupal or leapfrogging from an old version, such as from Drupal 7, to Drupal 9, if you haven't already done so.
Drupal's new migration experience
With Drupal 8, Drupal tackled the most persistent issue affecting the adoption of Drupal and migration to the latest version. A major overhaul to the architecture has eliminated the need to perform the significant rewrites that affected every layer of architecture and community modules. While site owners of Drupal 6 or 7 upgrading to Drupal 9 will still feel this initial sting, the good news is that subsequent upgrades will be relatively painless. For those on Drupal 8, the migration to Drupal 9 will be far less laborious and more comparable to other similar content management systems.
When you consider that Drupal 7 is facing its end of life in November 2023 (with Drupal 8 phasing out November 2021), making a plan to migrate to Drupal 9 will ensure a smooth road to success.
Drupal's new features
If you are on an old version of Drupal (before Drupal 8), you are missing features that make upgrading to Drupal 9 a stand-out option. Increased security, improvements in the mobile editing experience and a built-in media library are all included in the latest version of Drupal.
Drupal has consistently pushed for a secure ecosystem, with proactive reviews of core and contributed modules. Since more contributed modules became core functionality in Drupal 8, even more scrutiny in the review process has been incorporated. When vulnerabilities are identified, patches are distributed that will protect your core platform.
Secondly, Drupal 8 adopted the TWIG theming system that not only makes theming in Drupal more streamlined for developers, it provides better security over the traditional PHP theme layer presented in Drupal 7 and earlier versions.
Overall, Drupal’s security continues to be ahead of other CMS solutions, which often don’t discover vulnerabilities until after damage is inflicted.
Improved usability and content publishing
Drupal was one of the first major CMS to be mobile-friendly out of the box. Now, Drupal has quick-editing and a new workspaces module that make creating, managing and moving content simple for authors to do from anywhere.
Better media management
While managing media through a third-party module was once the downfall of Drupal-powered sites, it is now easy with Drupal 9’s built-in media library. The workflow module baked into core makes uploading, managing and reusing media painless. Plus, its extended media options include YouTube or Vimeo embeds that can be placed directly into content areas.
Providing an unmatched experience
With the end of life for Drupal 7 set for November 2023, upgrading to Drupal 9 will help avoid security issues and compatibility issues with contributed modules.
While migration to Drupal 9 will require some planning, there is a silver lining: Not only will you experience increased functionality and security for your site, your adoption of newer versions will be perpetually simpler.