The Short Answer: Nothing, Unless You’re Using Panelizer
Panelizer, which is being phased out in favor of the Layout Builder module, you won’t likely need to know anything about the new features of Drupal 9. The fact is that there are no other major changes in Drupal 9 that should affect your workflow from your Drupal 8 site, and all the site content management and administrative functionality should be seamless.
Ok, if Drupal 9 Isn’t Very Different, Why Should We Upgrade?
While impact to your project management workflow should be minimal, there are still meaningful differences between the technologies, creating more of an incentive to upgrade.
The most pressing reason to upgrade–and upgrade soon–is that Drupal 8 end-of-life is November 2021. It will be here before you know it, and your site will be vulnerable to security threats after the end-of-life date. There are also many accessibility, functionality, and profitability benefits to upgrading.
A11y is P11y
Accessibility is profitable, and profitability is accessible. Drupal 9 core has made it easier to achieve accessibility initiatives by conforming to WCAG 2.0 and ATAG 2.0 guidelines. Aside from the fact that liability is not profitable, accessibility has a solid business case for profitability. The #D7AX tag makes it easier to identify which contributed module developers have pledged to make their work as accessible as possible.
A11y is F11y
Commitment to accessibility is a commitment to functionality. If your website is functional for some but not all, then it is not optimized for functionality.
Accessibility Features of Drupal 9
The Drupal.org team is committed to improving accessibility, and Drupal 9 includes WAI-ARIA support, as well as maintaining the following improvements, from Drupal.org:
- Search engine form and presentation
- Drag and Drop functionality
- Color contrast and intensity
- Adding skip navigation to core themes
- Image handling
- Form labeling
- Removing duplicate or null tags
Bonus: Your Developers Will Be Happier
You may notice less grumbling from both front-end and back-end developers because contributed modules will be cleaned up, improving performance and usability.
Symfony and Twig upgrades will provide better system performance for reasons you probably won’t want to get into in this post. BigPipe and responsive images support will please front-end workers as well, with new and improved page load speeds.
How Much Will a Drupal 8 to Drupal 9 Upgrade Cost?
The upgrade from Drupal 7 to Drupal 8 may have clients nervous about the expense of another upgrade. The upgrade from Drupal 8 to Drupal 9 is a different story and is often seamless.
Here’s how Drupal.org explains it:
Shifting from Drupal 7 to Drupal 8 involved a lot of heavy lifting to put your site on a new track. A Drupal 9 upgrade is more like stopping at a station than changing tracks. If your sites don’t have a lot of custom development, it may be as simple as any other Drupal core upgrade since most of the commonly used contributed modules are now compatible with Drupal 9.
Read My lips, No New Tracks.
The Drupal.org team is committed to Drupal 9 being the last major upgrade, i.e., Drupal 10, 11, and onward will just be another station, not a new track.
So, I Need to Upgrade My Website to Drupal 9. What Now?
Our team of Drupal developers is here to do a full assessment to let you know exactly the time and budget needed to migrate your site. Contact us, and we’ll get you going on your Drupal 9 journey.
You can also read more about what it takes to upgrade your site and what to expect from the migration.