Why you should start planning your migration to Drupal 8 and 9 now

If your website is hosted on Drupal 7 or you're considering making the switch, then this is a great time to take the initiative and move to Drupal 8. In this blog, I'll outline seven reasons to choose Drupal 8 over its predecessors. 

1) It's the most stable environment to date 

Drupal 8 is the latest major release of the content management framework. It was launched in 2015 and is now in a very stable state. What's more, new features and improvements are added every six months in minor releases (we're now on version 8.6.)

2) A simpler, more streamlined user experience for editors

Drupal 8 has a whole host of benefits for content creators. Such as:

It's easy to build pages using Paragraphs

Create new page templates with Layout Builder

Organise images and documents with its in-built Media Library

Edit directly on a page with Quick Edit

3) Responsive across all devices 

Over half of all web traffic happens on mobile devices. Drupal 8 was designed from the outset to be mobile-first. It includes support for responsive images so mobiles can display the best sized images and download less data.

4) Faster and better performance

Pages load much faster with the new caching features. BigPipe allows visitors to start reading the content before large images have finished downloading. Meanwhile, cache tags allow each part of a page to be cached separately in the database. This works brilliantly with content delivery networks (CDNs) for purging just the right pages when content changes.

5) Modern Object-Orientated Programming (OOP) language

Drupal 8 is written in PHP 7 on the Symfony framework. It is much easier for new PHP developers to get up to speed on Drupal 8 than the old and obscure ways of Drupal 7. It won't be long before Drupal 7 developers are hard to come by - once they try Drupal 8 there's no going back! 

6) Design and build with components

Drupal 8 works beautifully with atomic design systems such as Pattern Lab. Your front-end developers can build components with JavaScript, CSS and Twig, without having to know much about Drupal.

7) Headless CMS

Drupal 8 has an application programming interface (API) first approach. Use Drupal as your content management system and build the front-end of your website with a JavaScript framework like React or Angular.

Get ready for Drupal 9

What, Drupal 9 already? Yes, it's coming next year! But don't worry, it's going to be very similar to Drupal 8, so the upgrade will be a much smaller jump than Drupal 7 to 8. Drupal’s founder says “the upgrade to Drupal 9 will be easy”. We'll hold him to that.

Should you wait for Drupal 9 and skip over Drupal 8? That could be a risky option. The window between the launch of Drupal 9 and End Of Life for Drupal 7 is less than 18 months, which is pretty tight for medium and large projects.

The best approach is to start now. Build your website in Drupal 8 and get most of the pain and risk out of the way. Migrate your content from your old website (Drupal 7 or anything else) using the new Migrate tools. Make sure your developers get the website 'Drupal 9 ready'.

For example, choose contributed modules that are actively supported and make sure custom modules do not use deprecated code. Launch your website as soon as you're ready.

When Drupal 9 is released you'll have plenty of time to plan your upgrade. This could be a change to just one file (composer.json) if your Drupal 8 project was planned well.

Dates for your diary

3rd June 2020: Expected release date for Drupal 9 and the last minor release for Drupal 8

November 2021: End Of Life for Drupal 7 and Drupal 8 (Free support will end for security issues and bug fixes.)

If you would like help making the migration to Drupal 8 or 9, get in touch via hello@nomensa.com or give us a call on +44 (0)117 929 7333.