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4 Key Drupal 9 Features that will Enable Your Business for the Future

Drupal 9 is releasing on 3rd June

1,000,000 page views a day
1.4 million assets
3TBs of data

Selecting the right content management system (CMS) to handle such massive traffic and data, like in the case of NASA, is fundamental to any business’s successful endeavor. It’s the reason behind the relaunch and migration of www.nasa.gov onto Drupal — a secure, scalable, and dynamic CMS — that has resulted in a reliable, user-centric, and mobile-first design streamlining the visitor experience.

It is one of the success stories of Drupal 7, but this was no time for Drupal to rest on their laurels. They released Drupal 8, and now the countdown for Drupal 9 has kick-started — an engine of innovation, recognizing digital as the linchpin of its development strategy.

Our Net Solutions developers have chosen Drupal for Web Development over other CMSs for many of our projects, so when we heard the news of Drupal 9 release, we were excited to find out what all Drupal brings to the table this time.

How Net Solutions helped its client to deliver good digital experience with Drupal

After thorough learning and spirited discussions, we found vital takeaways that Drupal 9 will be bringing with its release. In this article, we will dive deeper into more details and understand its features, along with other fundamental elements of Drupal that can help accelerate the business’s digital strategies.

Drupal release timeline

Drupal 9: Key Features and Business Benefits

Symfony 3 framework is one of the dependencies of Drupal 8, which is entering the end of life in November 2021. The support for Drupal 8 gets lifted around the same time. Therefore, it’s the best time to upgrade to Drupal 9

At the time of writing this piece, there were 34,173 websites still running on Drupal 6. Well, it’s shocking. Right? Anyone on Drupal 6 and reading this article, make a note — Drupal 9 will soon lift the support for a migration path from Drupal 6, which means that Drupal 6 code will no longer be present in the Drupal core. Thus, the release of Drupal 9 will serve as extra motivation for these sites to upgrade.

Contact Net Solutions to upgrade to Drupal 9 v1

Now, let’s have a closer look at some of the Drupal 9 features, updates, and paradigms.

1. Backward Compatible

When Drupal was initially released, Dries Buytaert was not in favor of preserving ‘Backward Compatibility.’ However, contrary to Dries’ philosophy, Drupal 9 releases with backward compatibility feature, implying that Drupal 9 will be compatible with its predecessor, i.e., Drupal 8.

That being said, if your website’s key features depend on modules, Drupal 9 will be able to use data, modules, and configurations with the previous version (Drupal 8) of the software and all your hard work will be functioning like before, unlike the case with Drupal 7 and 8.

Dries on Drupal's philosophy

As Buytaert mentions the reasons behind his unwillingness to preserve backward compatibility, which leads to dragged historical baggage and hindered systems’ performance, he prefers sticking to his philosophy until users force him to change slowly:

But what to do if many of your users slowly force you to change one of your core values?

Drupals’ philosophy changed with its Drupal 9 release. However, they still stand robustly on their core pillars — breaking people’s code, not people’s data, thereby maintaining fast, small, clean, and yet up-to-date technology — 9.0.0-beta2 overall package is 12% smaller than 8.9.0-beta2.

Drupal 9 is built with an API-first approach

2. Faster and Better Performance

With over half of all the web traffic landing on mobile devices, Drupal, in its 8th release, revealed that it was designed with the mobile-first approach. Drupal 9 will take this further by lending its support for responsive images — mobiles will be displaying the best sized images, consuming less data.

Moreover, Dries appeared in a webinar with Acquia on 12th May and mentioned that “Drupal 9.1+ is where future innovation happens,” paving the way for faster and better performance of websites. Well, Drupal 9.1 update is not so long, too — just six months after the release of Drupal 9. Till then you can still enjoy the powerful features of Drupal 8/9:

  • BigPipe increasing page view performance
  • Content Workflow allowing you to define multiple workflows
  • Multilingual capabilities
  • Structure Content: Drupal 9 ships with a wide range of available fields, including phone, email, date, and time.

Media Libraries in Drupal

3. Deprecations are Now Removed

One of the significant changes coming with the release of Drupal 9 is lifting the support for deprecated codes in Drupal 8. So what does this exactly mean?

A ‘Deprecated Code’ in Drupal means that the code marked as “deprecated” will no longer have any further support and, thus, should not be used anymore. The reason behind code depreciation is a better alternative that should be used as a replacement.

You can say that one of the agendas behind Drupal 9 release is some clean-up work, implying that any Drupal 8 module using deprecated code will need an update before Drupal 9s’ release, else it will stop working with Drupal 9. The end goal is clear — to make the code more nimble, thus improving the website’s performance.

How to Analyze if Your Site Uses Deprecated Code?

All site owners can install the Upgrade Status Module — it offers you a Drupal 9 site’s migration readiness assessment, along with deprecated code check.

4. Headless CMS

Only 1% of businesses deliver excellent customer experience. Meaningful content and a good CMS to deliver that content, together, can increase the chances to improve the customer experience. There are plenty of CMSs available in the market. So what’s the reason behind the inability of businesses to deliver a seamless experience to their customers?

Most of the enterprise CMSs, existing today, can deliver a few commerce solutions, and vice-versa is true. However, there is no eCommerce solution or an existing CMS platform that can provide both, leaving a substantial omnichannel experience gap.

Drupal Headless CMS and Magento found an opportunity here — an idea of merging the two resulted in a market-leading system.

Headless vs Side-by-Side: How to Choose

Magento and Drupal CMS Integration Headless or Side-by-Side

Find what’s best for your business



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Drupal 8/9 comes with an API-first approach. Dries in a webinar mentioned that they are aggressively investing in Headless CMS so that it can build the powerful front-end of the website with JavaScript framework like React or Angular. The key features of Drupal Headless CMS are:

  • Front-End Freedom
  • Create Once, Publish Anywhere
  • API-First Approach
  • Easier Resourcing
  • Single Source of Truth

“The last five years, we have not only added new capabilities, but we have also improved existing capabilities, we have refactored code, we have eliminated technical debt that may have existed in Drupal. So, the APIs of Drupal have evolved in advance.” – Dries Buytaert

Conclusion

Drupal 8 won’t get any new features, apart from security and critical patches, once Drupal 9 is released on 3rd June 2020. If you want to stay updated with the latest and vital features in Drupal, kick-start the upgrade process as quickly as possible.

If your website is still on Drupal 7, it’s high time to upgrade to Drupal 9. All its migration paths will remain active at least until Drupal’s 10th version and migrating from Drupal 7 to 9 would not be harder than going for Drupal 8.

If your website is on Drupal 8 and there are no deprecated codes, you can upgrade to Drupal 9 anytime after its release. We recommend you to get started with Drupal 9 as soon as possible and start reaping its business benefits.

Contact Net Solutions to Migrate to Drupal 9

Lalit Singla

About the Author

Lalit Singla is working as Project Manager at Net Solutions since the last 5 years with over 10 years of experience in LAMP Stack. His expertise lies in Enterprise eCommerce and custom database driven development. In his free time, he enjoys listening to classical music.

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