Drupal 9 is set to reach its end-of-life in November 2023, but there's no need to panic just yet.

What's the status of Drupal 9?

Drupal 9’s end-of-life is scheduled for November this year. Each recent major version of Drupal remains current for 2 full years, so we are only about halfway through the expected lifespan of Drupal 9It remains fully supported, performant, functional and secure and will continue to be so until November. 

Come November 2023, you do need to be on Drupal 10, as once Drupal 9 is end-of-life it will no longer receive security updates. The good news is that there’s no rush to do this right now.

Isn't Drupal 10 ready now?

Yes and no. Drupal 10 was released in December 2022 and the core CMS is ready for use, but many of the contributed modules that your website relies upon are not. Some of those require a simple one-line change to make them Drupal 10 compatible, whilst others may require more substantial work to replace deprecated functionality being removed in Drupal 10.  

The easiest approach to getting these modules ready for Drupal 10 is… just wait. The massive Drupal community will work through these changes over the coming months. The same thing happened when Drupal 9 was released. We’ve been here before. 

We'll be proactive though. As a Drupal Premium Supporting partner, the team dedicate time every two weeks to supporting the open-source community. It’s part of what makes doing Drupal here so great. 

What we intend to do is look at the key modules many of our client’s websites use and see if we can assist in getting those modules over the Drupal 10 finish line. We’ll monitor the Drupal 10 readiness status of all the modules our clients use. If we consider it unlikely that more obscure modules will be updated by their maintainers in time, then we will step in and resolve those too. 

How long will the upgrade take?

We have experience in upgrading from Drupal 8 to Drupal 9. The majority took around 2-5 days of work. Some of that was creating and/or applying patches, but the majority was testing – development testing initially, then regression testing via our Quality Assurance team and finally supporting our client’s own user acceptance testing. Testing is important people.  

Our expectation is that the upgrade to Drupal 10 will be even easier, but still expect a similar amount of effort. 

Drupal 10 does have some new features, but it is essentially Drupal 9 with some of its underlying libraries updated, e.g. Symfony 2 is replaced with Symfony 3. As such, nothing much should change. You might not even notice any change to your website after the upgrade. It’s a bit like getting the gutters replaced on your house; nobody will notice, but your house won’t be at risk from the damp of not replacing them. 

When should we upgrade to Drupal 10?

We will make a call and start to upgrade websites from Drupal 9 to Drupal 10, learning as we go and sharing the knowledge we gain between project teams. The whole team meet every other week in our Drupal Town Hall session and that’s a great opportunity to share what we’ve learned.  

At present we anticipate starting to upgrade our clients’ websites from the middle of this year, unless there is a good reason to start any specific website earlier. 

What do we need to do now? 

There are some actions we need to undertake well before the upgrade to Drupal 10. 

To upgrade from Drupal 9 to Drupal 10, you need to be on the “final” version of Drupal 9, which is Drupal 9.5. If your site is still on Drupal 9.4, we’ll upgrade it to Drupal 9.5. We’ve done several sites already and it typically takes about a day. 

Drupal 10 also requires PHP 8.1, so if you’re still on PHP 8.0 we’ll upgrade you to PHP 8.1, which will take about a day. PHP is the programming language that sits on the web server and runs Drupal. 

It makes sense to do both the upgrade to Drupal 9.5 and PHP 8.1 at the same time, so we only require a single round of regression testing.  

How much will this cost? 

Depending on the size and terms of any application support retainer you have with us, some of these prerequisites, as well as the final move to Drupal 10, may be able to be included in retainer time. Alternatively, it could come out of an existing bank of hours or require a new statement of work. Please discuss with your account manager. 

Final words 

Yes, you need to go to Drupal 10, but there is no rush. The later we leave it, the less it will cost you.