Last year we wrote an article exploring whether organizations on Drupal 7 should upgrade to Drupal 8 or wait, and head right to Drupal 9. With all the progress that has been made on Drupal 9, it’s time to revisit our recommendation.
In the year since we wrote that post Drupal 9 has rapidly neared becoming a reality: The release date is set for June 3, 2020. This date represents a major milestone for the Drupal project. For the first time a new major version of the software will be released that does not require a major lift to upgrade. Moving to Drupal 9 from Drupal 8 will be a breeze.
So, to our central question: What should Drupal 7 site owners do now that a firm Drupal 9 date is set? Should you wait for Drupal 9 to be released to start the upgrade effort, or get to work immediately on Drupal 8 and upgrade to Drupal 9 later?
The crucial consideration is Drupal 8.9. This version of Drupal will be released on the same day that Drupal 9 is released, but the beta for Drupal 8.9 is out today. Why does 8.9 matter? Because this version supports the same public APIs as Drupal 9 starting with this version for your upgrade today ensures that moving to Drupal 9 after you finish the upgrade work will be a trivial effort. There will be no surprises for 8.9 users going to 9.0.
And don’t worry that it’s a beta. If you start your Drupal upgrade effort today you likely won’t be ready to launch until June at the earliest, so you can launch with the official release of Drupal 8.
Why not start on Drupal 9 today? Because Drupal 8.9 is far more stable today, and, most importantly, there is better module compatibility today for Drupal 8.9 than 9. As June approaches, and your launch approaches, more of the ecosystem will be ready for an easy leap to 9.
Drupal 9 will be stable on the day it is released. (I mean we know this because we are helping write it.) But, even with that, as every grizzled old IT veteran from the bad old days of Microsoft servers in the 2000s will tell you, no one gets in trouble for waiting for that first service pack to be released before upgrading. So, if you move to Drupal 8.9 don’t feel bad about waiting for 9.1.
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