Brace yourself; Drupal 9 is on its way!

Wed, 04/12/2019 - 14:25

Drupal 9 is being built in Drupal 8. Yes, you read correctly. 

Drupal web developers have decided to build the 9th version within the same codebase as Drupal 8, simply adding new functionality as backwards-compatible code. Over time, when the code stabilises, Drupal has announced that old functionalities will deprecate. “When we have better solutions for problems, we introduce them while keeping and deprecating the old approaches.” 

What is the big fuss about? 

Drupal’s software is popular because of its mobile-first offering; it prioritises native support for integrations. Having drupal is a great way to ensure an increase in your performance and scalability. Each new update offers an opportunity for better content creation for all parties involved. 

What Drupal 9 is bringing to the table? 

Unlike the previous versions, Drupal 9 doesn’t come with significant upgrades. Having said that, it’s still important to prepare for it ahead of the June 2020 release. Drupal 9 opens up an opportunity for a code-clean up, deprecating old functionality and upgrading Drupal’s third-party dependencies such as Twig and Symfony, CKEditor 4 and 5, jQuery and jQuery UI, PHPUnit and Doctrine. 

  • Twig - Drupal 8 currently depends on Twig 1, even though Twig 2 has been released for years. The new version is being designed to depend on Twig 2 instead of Twig 1.

  • Symfony - the third version of Symfony expires in November 2021. This makes it crucial for Drupal 9 to depend on a new version of Symfony. Drupal agency’s Dries Buytaert and Gabor Hojtsy explain in their blog that Drupal 9 will update to either Symfony 4.4. “Even though Symfony 5 will be out by the time Drupal 9 is released.”

  • CKEditor - CKEditor 4 will end in a few years. While Drupal 9 will be released with the support of this version, eventually, Drupal 9 will be moved to CKEditor 5. The deprecation of CKEditor 4 will begin with Drupal 9 and be completely removed in Drupal 10. 

  • jQuery and jQuery UI - Drupal 9 will see a full return to jQuery, while most elements of the jQuery UI dependency will be removed from Drupal core.

PHPUnit is still in limbo as the agency works on the decision about the future of this dependency. On the other hand, they explained on their blog that they have decided to remove Doctrine without any plans to replace it. “We forked the part of the code we needed and included it with Drupal core.”

Are you prepared for the upgrade? 

Drupal website development updates will not be a challenge because it’s built within Drupal 8 codebase, which will have a test run through Drupal 8.8.0 set to be released next month. Drupal core contributors won’t have a lot of tasks and fixes by the time Drupal 9 is released. This will make the transition easier for Drupal site owners, who will already be familiar with Drupal 8 features. Which is why preparing for Drupal 9 rests heavily on keeping up with Drupal 8 upgrades. Doing so allows you to be aware of which modules, functionalities, APIs and third-party dependencies are deprecated. 

Final words 

Drupal 9 is planned for a June 2020 release, just a few months after Drupal 8.0.0 release set to take place in December 2019. The transition from Drupal 8 to Drupal 9 is going to be easy because the latter is built within the same code base as the former. The key thing to take note of is that the life of Drupal 8 ends in November 2021. That’s primarily because Drupal 8 has a high dependency on Symfony 3, which is set to die in November 2021. But the major benefit of Drupal 9 over Drupal 8 is that the platform will be supported with security fixes even after November 2021. 

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