Top 5 Things Developers May Overlook When Upgrading a Website from Drupal 8 to Drupal 9

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Drupal, Tech
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…

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.

The migration from Drupal 8 to Drupal 9 will be a walk-in park compared to other Drupal updates. However, it is still essential to ensure that the upgrade is planned to consider the various requirements needed for a successful upgrade. While most of the focus is usually on the compatibility and Drupal 9 ready status of modules, other important requirements might get overlooked when upgrading from Drupal 8 to Drupal 9.

In this blog post, our developers dive into the top 5 things developers may overlook when upgrading a website from Drupal 8 to Drupal 9.

1. Composer

Composer 2.0 support is a major improvement that adds processing and memory performance that improves the installation of packages. Along with this major improvement is the potential to introduce some compatibility issues, and depending on your codebase. Checking for and fixing these compatibility issues should be an essential step in your upgrade process.

2. Frontend Features

Confirming that frontend features and custom themes are not using any deprecated code before attempting to upgrade to Drupal 9 will save you a lot of frustration during the upgrade process.

3. Regression Testing

Regression testing involves running tests to make sure any recent code change has not adversely affected existing features. While the upgrade to Drupal 9 is similar to Drupal core updates. It is essential to make sure existing functionalities still work and that the upgrade did not break any of the site’s existing functionalities. This is of great importance, and there has to be thorough testing to ensure that site is working as expected, new bugs are not introduced, and the new codebase is stable. There is also the need for content and frontend QA to ensure user experience and is not affected by any change to the user interface elements.

4. Using Media Modules and Performance Improvements

Depending on the age of your Drupal 8 site, the media library wasn’t in core when it was built. It may have been built with the contrib module or entirely using file fields. Upgrading those to the core media library is required in the former case, or in the latter case, it may be a great time to bundle those updates in. You’re already doing a full site QA so if you upgrade to the media library simultaneously, you’re saving some effort vs. doing that later.

5. Hosting / Server compatibility

While the update on a local environment might work seamlessly, there is always a tendency to assume that it will be the same in the hosting environment – don’t. It is a good rule of thumb to verify that your hosting provider supports all the server requirements for Drupal 9. The following database versions are needed to run Drupal 9. MySQL or Percona, version 5.7.8. MariaDB. version 10.3.7, SQLite 3.26 and PostgreSQL, version 10. Drupal 9 requires a min of PHP 7.3. Make sure your hosting provider supports and runs the required PHP version. Drush is not required but is an essential tool for Drupal. As of this writing, Drush will only provide Drupal 9 compatibility in Drush 10. While Drupal supports multiple HTTP servers, Apache is one of the most common servers, and for Drupal 9, the minimum version is 2.4.7. If you are running Drupal 9 on Nginx the minimum version required is 0.7.x

Now what?

Whether or not you think legacy code is a concern for your project, Drupal 8 end-of-life date is November 2, 2021. Your site is, of course, 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.

Reach out, and we can do an assessment of your website to see what it would take to upgrade.

Oh, and our team will be presenting at DrupalCon 2021, so make sure you check out the sessions. Rolando Scott, director of Drupal development, and Scott Spector, director of accessibility and quality, and Kennedy Bahlow, event producer, all will be presenting.