As a website development and full-service creative agency with 25 years of experience, we know a thing or two about Drupal. Over the past decade, our developers have created hundreds of websites on Drupal. Everyone who currently uses Drupal 8 as their CMS will need to upgrade to Drupal 9 by November 2021.
We surveyed 13 of our Drupal developers, who have over 120 years of collective development experience, about all things Drupal. The best part? We’re sharing all their insightful responses with you in a series of blogs, so make sure you follow along.
First, we are rounding up the top 5 Drupal 9 features developers are most excited about.
1. Ease of Drupal Migration / Update
Up until the Drupal 9 release, upgrading to a more recent version of Drupal (for purposes of staying up to date with security, support, etc.) meant basically creating a whole new website. It was challengingly expensive and time consuming. From now on, we’ll be able to keep our Drupal websites fast, secure, and having all of the latest features with vastly reduced effort. Clients will be happier cause they won’t have to pay for a completely new website. The agency and its developers will be able to focus on developing hot features and other meaningful things instead of spending time recreating something because a newer version of Drupal rolled out.
2. Composer 2 Support
Drupal 8 massively changed the Drupal ecosystem by being built with/supporting the Composer package manager. Over the course of the Drupal 8 lifespan, Composer usage skyrocketed both in the Drupal community and in the broader PHP ecosystem. This gave a lot of heavy real-world usage and testing. Out of which was born a new version of Composer – 2.0 – with massive improvements in speed and developer experience. However, it needed some changes in projects and didn’t work right with Drupal 8. Drupal 9 – and all the common extra PHP libraries that Taoti often uses – support this out of the box.
3. Drupal Core Component Updates
Media Library module is now core, since 8.4.x in fact, but the last few development cycles have seen an increasingly error-free and feature-rich experience and module ecosystem. Media Library allows us to upload media, including remote videos or documents, and offer a customized “library” to reuse these items elsewhere on the site or modify them in a central location.
The Media Library module is great on its own but is especially powerful when combined with other modules, such as Responsive Image Styles, Focal Point, or Image Widget Crop. The fact that users are increasingly navigating websites on mobile devices is not a new one, which means designing for mobile is increasingly critical. It’s time to step up how we manage media – no longer uploading the same image, document or video repeatedly was a good start but is no longer enough. Taoti is already at work implementing and standardizing much-needed features such as for content managers to easily crop images and fine-tune how they are displayed for different devices.
4. Drupal Dependency on jQuery
Drupal re-evaluated the dependency on jQuery UI and removed most components from core since it is an “Emeritus Project” (end-of-life). A limited number of components will remain as forked versions that can be patched for any security issues. Drupal 9 will still depend on jQuery itself. The framework was needed in the past to overcome browser compatibility and to make things easier. However, browsers have aligned and eliminated many of the inconsistencies, and most methods and functions are available in the native Web API.
We’re looking forward to a more modern JS ecosystem that does not depend on a bulky framework and an even bigger UI framework.
Drupal’s API-First initiative increases how versatile a build is, gives the front-end of the site more freedom and control, and allows for better integrations. What does that actually mean, though? Basically, more whizbang!
Bonus! 6. Drupal PHP 8 Upgrade
Also recently released is PHP 8.0. PHP is the primary underlying language behind Drupal. PHP 8.0 has some more of the speed improvements seen with 7 and many features that cause some developers to drool, like increased strict typing, leading to more resilient applications that are easier to debug and reduce bugs but are really quite boring to the non-dev. This is great news, but there are breaking changes that for upgrading legacy sites can cause some issues. Fortunately, we know what to look for – some of our devs have been experimentally using PHP 8.0 for months – so as long as we have your project in our hands, no need to worry about anything but the feature and performance improvements!
Whether or not you think legacy code is a concern for your project, the Drupal 8 end-of-life date is November 2, 2021. Of course, your site is not going to self-destruct, but there are certainly security implications.
Just like tax season, upgrade season is upon us. But Drupal 9 has been out long enough to instill confidence – now is the best possible time to get the ball rolling.