The Road to Drupal 9

The Road to Drupal 9

2020 will see the release of Drupal 9 (D9). In the 19 years since Drupal 1.0 was released, this is possibly the most significant release there has been. "Surely Drupal 8 was the most significant" we can hear you say? We don't think so and to understand why, we need to have a brief look at the history of Drupal.

  • Version 1-7 (2001 - 2011): Drupal followed a fairly standard path in the rapidly evolving world of web software. New versions were feature-driven to maintain competitiveness. Long term viability and ease of system upgrade were secondary. The Drupal team did better than most at this, but the normality was that a Drupal upgrade meant a site rebuild. 
  • Version 8 (2015): It took years of development, but what the Drupal team accomplished in Drupal 8 (D8) was a ground-up rewrite of the entire system. This was a huge risk but enabled the foundations of the project to be brought up to modern standards in one fell swoop. Yes, most D7 sites would require a rebuild, but the promise was that this new platform had a baked-in upgrade capability going forward. D8 was designed to be upgraded and the point releases (8 to date) have confirmed the upgrade capability.
  • Version 9 (2020): In the new framework a major release like 9.0 means that the core APIs can be changed based upon the experiences with the previous version. This could lead to incompatibilities except that these changes have been published, and planned for as the point releases of D8 have progressed. The result should be a smooth upgrade from D8 to D9.

It is the fact that D9 tests the promise of D8 that makes it so significant.

The D8 release promised an upgrade path driven by plans and not feature requests. It was Drupal reaching maturity and hinting at its huge potential. Drupal 9 is the first delivery on that potential and will be a landmark release not just for the Drupal folks, but for everyone delivering long term digital services.

What Does D9 Mean for I-ntarsia Customers?

The rationale of the I-ntarsia platform is that site builders and site owners are insulated from the maelstrom of software stack changes. They don't want to care about Drupal version, database version or operating system version so long as they can develop their service however they want and they aren't compromised in any way. 

Most customers know that the I-ntarsia platform is updated 4 times a year, but as they don't really experience any downtime or disruption, it isn't always obvious that the platform keeps them and their service right up to date across the whole software stack. Many customers who started in 2016 will be unaware that they are still running the very latest version of Drupal 8 and that their path to Drupal 9 is planned and ready. The Drupal 9 site they end up running will be on a completely upgraded operating system and stack (Ubuntu Focal Fossa) offering all of the new features of D9 and the growth path as D9 evolves. 

We explained in this article why we changed from our proprietary codebase to Drupal 8. In 2020 we will see Drupal 9 reinforce that selection for us and I-ntarsia customers.