Drupal 9 is now out in the market. However, multiple businesses are still running on earlier versions of Drupal. Normally, upgrading any software to its latest version is perceived as a time-consuming and expensive activity and hence, most businesses put off their upgrade plans guided by the idea of “Why spend money and time on something that’s not broken?” The web-application seems to be performing well and targeting the desired customer segment. So why upgrade?
Previously, Drupal 7’s EOL (end of life) was scheduled for November 2021 but foreseeing the impacts of COVID-19 on businesses, the Drupal organization has extended Drupal 7’s EOL to November 2022. However, The support for Drupal 8 will still stop in November 2021 due to Symfony 3’s EOL.
What Drupal “End of Life” (EOL) means
When a version of Drupal reaches EOL, the Drupal community will no longer work on it and there will be no free support anymore for this version. No new features will be added, no bugs will be fixed. The core issue queues will be locked completely, so that no one can add anything to Drupal 7 & 8 Core on Drupal.org.
Things are not as scary as they might seem at first glance. Let’s take a look at some major consequences that any business undoubtedly may face in near future –
- Security Implications – any vulnerabilities discovered that impact Drupal 7 or 8 will no longer receive a formal security announcement and updates from Drupal.org. It can cause a big risk to your business information security.
- Higher operating costs – only few organizations provide support for EOL versions of Drupal, but at a very high cost. This directly implies higher costs if any support is required.
- No new features – Since its release, the contributed module development has almost shifted around Drupal 9 due to lack of new features in earlier versions of Drupal.
Drupal 9: Key features and business benefits
Let’s have a closer look at some of the features that make Drupal 9 the most accessible, intuitive, and user-friendly version yet.
- API-First Approach
API-First means “Future-First”. Drupal has always been the most popular platform to support rich content on webpages. Following the API-first approach, Drupal 9 allows the best-in-class integration with latest technologies (React, Angular, Vue and many more) making it flexible enough to handle more ambitious projects in the future.Drupal 9 architecture is very convenient for building headless applications. With the use of built-in core module JSON API now developers can easily choose headless Content Management System (CMS) with a custom front end that integrates via APIs with emerging channels (Augmented Reality, Virtual Reality, Digital Assistants, Bots, etc).The advantages of “API-First” approach for business are:
- a. Freedom to choose front-end
- b. Create once, publish anywhere
- c. Single-source authoring and publishing
- d. Scale to ‘N’ numbers of platforms and devices
- Content Moderation Workflow
For any business website, if the content is updated on a regular basis, a requirement comes into the picture – “Maker and Checker Process”. Now, Drupal 9 has “Content Moderation” and “Workflow” modules in its core itself. It helps content and marketing teams to streamline their moderation and publication processes and helps senior management to make appropriate decisions while there is any on-the-job requirement.
- Improved User Experience
Drupal 9 empowers its users (Author, Editor, Publisher or any other) with some new customer experiences. Some enhancements include:
Visual page design with Layout Builder – Offers content editors and site builders an easy-to-use page building experience with the help of pre-defined drag and drop properties
Claro admin theme – A sleek new theme for the Drupal admin UI. The findings of the “Drupal Admin UX Survey” have been incorporated into the Claro theme to minimize pain points for editors and decision makers.
Acquia Cohesion – The simplest and fastest path to design and launch the sites. Acquia Cohesion a low-code site builder tool with a dynamic UI that makes it easier than ever for non-developers to shape experiences on the front end.
- Internationalization and localization with smart language translation
For businesses having global footprints, it is a very time consuming and expensive process to maintain their digital presence with localization support.Using Drupal 9, it is very easy to create and maintain multi-locale websites in over 100+ languages. All the required settings and integrations are now included in core itself.
- a. Language (Allows to configure languages)
- b. Interface Translation (Translates the UI and admin interface as per opted language).
- c. Content Translation (Allows integration with different service providers to translate the content automatically)
Additionally, Drupal 9 also supports effortless integration with third-party APIs for automatic content translation from one language to another.
- Ensuring the Web Accessibility Standards
The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) explains how the web content (information in a web page, such as text, images, media files, etc.) be made more accessible to meet the needs of individuals, organizations, and governments internationally.Drupal 9, in its Values and Principles, conforms to the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) guidelines that address:
- a. Authoring tools, as part of the Authoring Tool Accessibility Guidelines (ATAG 2.0)
- b. Web content, as part of the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG 2.0)
It’s all about building a brand — defining your business is inclusive, attentive to all customers, respective of best practices, and in line with the times. It will most likely attract customers and partners who want to be part of a good culture. On the contrary, a lack of accessibility can be a reputation killer.
So, while it’s technically true that Drupal 7 & 8 won’t get any new features, apart from security and critical patches. To stay updated with the latest and vital features in Drupal, kick-start the upgrade process as quickly as possible.