Since the release of Drupal 8 on November 19, 2015, we have been continuously working on moving clients and their sites from Drupal 7 to the latest version. The migration process has, more often than not, proved to be challenging. This is mainly due to the changes introduced in Drupal 8, such as the introduction of OOP and Symphony core, Drupal 8 migrations require a sizable commitment from the client to support the time and effort for the work, as well as the steep learning curve for the development teams working with the new release. Let's see what return can we expect on our investment on both sides, and what Drupal 9 will mean for the future of these projects.
Drupal 8 is a fundamental rewrite of the open-source CMS. It brings an entirely different philosophy and process when handling updates. While previously a major version update meant a fresh start, going forward updates will be made incrementally. This means that a properly maintained application will require few if any additional engineering hours to utilize all the benefits of the latest release. This methodology also applies to Drupal 8 modules, as they had to be rebuilt from their Drupal 7 version using the same concepts to allow easy incremental updates to Drupal 9.
Drupal 7 and 8 are both nearing their end of life, and the release of Drupal 9 is on the horizon. There are a few different upgrade paths that existing Drupal applications will need to choose from by November of 2021.
Existing projects using Drupal 7 will need to undergo a complete rebuild and migration process, as mentioned above. Our recommendation for such projects is to migrate to Drupal 8 by the end of 2020, so that they are ready to be updated to Drupal 9 on release.
For green field projects, we had a strict policy of only using Drupal 8 since it's been available. Projects that have been built like this, or applications that have already been migrated to Drupal 8 are set for a seamless upgrade procedure. As these sites are updated regularly with minor patches, they are kept ready to be upgraded to Drupal 9 as part of their regular support schedule.
Here is a post by Matthew Grasmick, in which he performs an update from the latest version of Drupal 8 to the recently released Drupal 9 alpha. The process takes a bit less than 10 minutes, and there are some promising takeaways at the end.
Are you preparing to update your application to Drupal 8 or 9? Feel free to reach out to us to discuss your options!