Drupal is a free open-source content management system (CMS) that allows you to create websites, blogs, and other web applications. It has become one of the most popular platforms for building custom sites.

The process of migrating from Drupal 8 to Drupal 9 is no small task. There are several changes and new features that you’ll want to consider before moving forward. In this article, you'll discover some of the major changes that you’ll encounter when migrating from Drupal 8 to Drupal 9.

As you migrate to Drupal 9, you’ll notice a significant change in the way things look and function. The biggest difference between Drupal 8 and Drupal 9 is the introduction of a completely redesigned user interface. This means that you'll need to rework your entire site from scratch.

What Does a Drupal Migration Mean?

A Drupal migration process involves taking an existing Drupal website or blog and converting it into a Drupal 9 installation. You can also perform a complete Drupal 9 install by starting with a blank slate.

When you migrate to Drupal 9 from Drupal 8, you need to update your Drupal 8 website to the latest version of both core and contributed modules and themes. If you have any custom code, such as custom content types, views, and fields, you will need to convert them to Drupal 9 compatible versions.

You may also need to upgrade your database schema to support Drupal 9's new data model. And finally, you should make sure that all your files are converted to Drupal 9 standards.

What Is Drupal 9?

Drupal 9 is the same as the Drupal 8.9 version but without the deprecated code available in the previous version. It's identical to the 8.9 version for editors, website builders, and developers and it is built with an API-first approach in mind. Drupal 9 improves structural tools and editorial workflows. 

Key Drupal 9 benefits

Drupal 9 brings forward a continuous innovation cycle that delivers all the best features of Drupal 8, plus updated system requirements that improve security support. 

Drupal 9 provides feature additions twice a year, so you'll be up-to-date with the latest technology innovations.

What is more, your developer team will most likely work very easily with Drupal 9, as the Drupal 8 experience is quite similar. Prepare your upgrade process and get a cleaned-up, consistent, API-based modern environment. 

You might also like: Drupal 10 New Features and How to Prepare Your Migration.

Migrating to Drupal 9: What do I need to know?

Before you begin your Drupal 9 migration, there are three key areas where you'll need to take action:

Update Your Site Core

In order to successfully migrate to Drupal 9, your site must be updated to the latest version of Drupal 8 core. To ensure that your site works properly after the migration, you should use the same version of the core that you used during development.

Upgrade Modules and Plugins

When you migrate to Drupal 9 you'll need to upgrade all your modules and plugins to their respective Drupal 9 versions. For example, if you're using Views 7.x-3.0 then you'll need to upgrade to Views 8.x-2.1. Similarly, if you're using CCK 3.x-7.x then you'll need to move to CCK 4.x-4.6.

Convert Custom Code

If you've developed custom content types, views, or fields, you'll need to convert these items to Drupal 9 compatible versions so they work properly on your new site.

How does a Drupal migration affect your brand reputation and business value?

Upgrading to Drupal 9 comes with benefits like all system and software upgrades. To understand the business value added by such a migration, consider asking the following questions:

  • Are your current features and modules secure and relevant for your business scope? How would you rate them?
  • Do you clearly know the scope of a Drupal migration for you? How many resources like time and money do you plan to spend on this migration?
  • Does your developer team have the necessary skill set to plan and complete it successfully?  How will your Drupal migration impact the content design and architecture on your site?

Tools & Modules For Completing Your Drupal Migration

Now that you've asked the right question, you might be ready to start your migration. If so, here are some tools and modules to help you in this process: 

  • Core Migrate Module Suite: migrate your content and site configuration  
  • Upgrade Rector: automate module updates for Drupal 8 sites of common deprecated code to the latest Drupal 9 compatible code
  • Drupal Module Upgrader: scan and convert outdated code on your site
  • Upgrade Status Module: provide information about contributed project availability

4 Steps to Prepare Your Drupal 8 site for Migrating to Drupal 9    

Check out this to-do list before starting your migration to Drupal 9:

1. Check that your hosting environment meets the compatibility requirements of Drupal 9.

2. Update your contributed projects so that you resolve Drupal 9 compatibility issues gradually, keeping Drupal 8 compatibility at the same time. 

3. Make sure to upgrade to the latest Drupal 8 version available (Drupal 8.8 and 8.9).

4. Edit your custom code by removing deprecated API use.


The transition from one version to another can be challenging, but the migration process is simple once you learn how it's done. If you find it overwhelming and want to opt for professional services, check out Optasy's services

Our dedicated team of Drupal experts will support you in every step of your migration process and ensure that your website is up and running smoothly after the migration. Optasy offers assistance and custom migration to suit the specific needs of each business.  

Photo credit: Unsplash.


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