Drupal 9 is almost here. By almost, we mean little over a year away. As far as development cycles go, that is fairly close.
Drupal 9 Release Date
The official Drupal 9 release date is June 3, 2020.
What does this mean for all those Drupal users out there? It means the winds of change are blowing. And hard. Which is a good thing.
Drupal 9 is, in a very technical sense as much as an essential one, an upgrade in true spirit. Dries Buytaert – the original developer of Drupal – has made it clear that Drupal 9 will be a cleaner version of Drupal 8, due in great part to the fact that the former is being built on top of the latter, essentially adding new functionality as backward-compatible code. This is very significant because it means migrating from Drupal 8 to Drupal 9 will be a very smooth and easy process.
The developers have explained that the reason they have announced the Drupal 9 release date so far ahead of schedule is to give people time to prepare. Upgrading from previous versions to Drupal 9 will not only be easy, it will also be necessary if you wish to acquire full functionality and retain the ability to receive security updates within the bi-yearly cycles.
Drupal 7 and Drupal 8: End-of-Life
As of November 2021, both Drupal 7 and Drupal 8 will reach end-of-life status, which means updates will no longer be available to either. By announcing the release of Drupal 9 over a year before it happens, and two and a half years before the older versions are no longer part of the developing cycle, the people at Drupal are giving users enough time to fully prepare for the migration, with enough warning to be fully upgraded by that time.
The wide release window also provides core contributors with time to work on their modules and adjust to the upcoming changes, not to mention that it gives the Drupal team time to iron out any kinks.
What About Symfony?
As for Symfony 5, it will be shipped with Drupal 9, but it will also be compatible with Drupal 8 while the developers identify and fix any potential issues, giving users enough buffer before S5 is required for D9.
As of yet, not much is known about which third party dependencies will be updated, or even which modules will survive or be removed.
The most important thing to remember about Drupal 9 is that it is not really about new features, which developers have claimed will be few if any at all. The entire point of the upgrade is to ensure a general migration from older versions, which will not have any security updates going forward past 2021.
If you or your company use Drupal, be sure to keep checking the O8 blog for more updates on this release as they become available.