Skip to main content
01 Mar 2023

Drupal - Introduction

Drupal 9 was released in June 2020 and migrating from Drupal 7 or Drupal 8 to Drupal 9 is really easy. The entire upgrading process is seamless for some users who aren't familiar with the initial steps involved and intimidated by the complexity of migrating from one software release to another. By following this guide and keeping track of your Drupal upgrade process, you'll learn about where to find help, what to expect during each step, tips for avoiding common problems, best practices for prepping your environment, and more.

For you, upgrading to Drupal 9 brings with it the weariness and load of having to shift your entire CMS. Well, such was a thing of the past. You no longer need to fret about the troubles involved in upgrading to the latest version of Drupal 9. In fact, upgrading from your Drupal 7 or Drupal 8 installation to Drupal 9 is an effortless task! But before learning how to upgrade your site manually, let us understand why you should upgrade from D7 or D8 (or earlier versions) to D9-

  • Drupal 9 will allow you to upgrade to a newer version of Drupal with updates for dependencies on stable versions.
  • Drupal 9 allows auto-removal of deprecated code before its release so that you do not need to worry about third-party dependencies and outdated code.

You should consider upgrading your Drupal site to Drupal 9 now, since the support for Drupal 8 will ended in November 2021. Drupal 7 also stopped receiving community support after November 2021.

Drupal Timeline

What is New in Drupal 9

In Drupal 9, you can use all of the features that you had in Drupal 8. In addition, support for security fixes will be provided after November 2021. The best part about Drupal 9 is that it's easy to upgrade from Drupal 8 without any hassle. Biannually more features will be added so that you can reap entrepreneurial benefits from the newest version of Drupal 9.

Drupal 9 New Features

Backward Compatible

Drupal 9 is backward compatible, so if you have created any data or configurations on Drupal 8, you will be able to use them on Drupal 9 too. Backward Compatibility allows you to install old Drupal modules in current Drupal. However, when you upgrade from Drupal 7 to Drupal 8, there were some changes made that could slow down your performance if you are using legacy code from previous versions. An intentional effort has been put in place by the community to break codes instead of breaking data. This support makes Drupal an up-to-date and fast technology.

Fast and Better Performance

The responsive images feature in Drupal 9 provides significant savings when mobile users access web applications built on the platform. In the upcoming version 9.1, the community will notice faster website performance. The improvements include-

  • BigPipe improves the speed at which users encounter your site's home page
  • You can use multiple workflows to allow for more efficient content management
  • Drupal 9 offers four multilingual support modules that are already built in core, making it easy to build multilingual sites
  • Drupal 9 offers the ability to create structured content for phone, email and date/time

Clear Code Base

Drupal 9 comes with the elimination of deprecated Drupal 8 code. It provides a clear and cleaner version of Drupal, eliminating deprecated code so that developers can focus on enhancing Drupal itself. If you want to upgrade from Drupal 8 to Drupal 9, you first need to remove the deprecated code because it is no longer supported by Drupal.

Symfony and Twig

Drupal 9 offers new versions of Symfony and Twig. Drupal 9 enables you to use Symfony 4 or 5 instead of Symfony 3 and get Twig 2.0. Your developers will experience improvement in the system, and the new versions provide security alongside better performance.

Replaced Panelizer

In Drupal 9, the Layout Builder has been replaced by the Panelizer. The Panelizer is the key player here.

Headless CMS

Both Drupal 8 and 9 emphasize the front-end experience, with Drupal founder Dries Buytaert wanting to enhance the user experience. The Drupal community benefits greatly from the Headless CMS initiative, which allows developers to create sites without having to worry about managing a database or caching elements.

  • Freedom of front-end development
  • Publish once and have your content available to anyone
  • API-first approach
  • Easy Resourcing

The new features in Drupal 9 make it easy for developers to learn and adapt, while also leveraging its accessibility, scalability, and flexibility.

Why Should you Upgrade to Drupal 9?

As of November 2021, the support for Drupal 8 and Drupal 7 ends. This is the prime reason for you to update your Drupal version. Though you may be thinking that your Drupal 7/8 website runs fine by far, there are three reasons why we strongly recommend that you upgrade-

  • If you do not upgrade your Drupal site to the latest version, the Drupal security team will no longer provide security to your website or its users.
  • All of your Drupal 7 and 8 projects will appear flagged or not supported in the third-party scanning report. This may inhibit your ability to gain additional insights from the report.
  • Acquia and Pantheon, leading hosting providers, will not support Drupal 7/8. Therefore, you must host your website with a different provider or configure your own environment.

However, you do not worry about your websites being removed from the web, because even if Drupal 7 and 8 support ends, your website will still be active.

 What are the prerequisites for upgrading to Drupal 9?

Upgrading from Drupal 8 to Drupal 9 is a simple process, requiring just these primary things-


There are two types of modules: community-contributed modules, and custom modules. To use custom modules in Drupal 9, you must first remove all deprecated code from previous releases and update the module to use the latest version. With community-contributed modules, you either need to get the updated module from its maintainer or create a pull request on GitHub.


Drupal themes are not dependent on the Drupal API. Thus, they can be updated without having to worry about conflicts with other theme features.


The transition from Drupal 8 to Drupal 9 is a relatively painless process. It's an easy, simple, and straightforward process for the core module set and community patches.

Drupal 8 TO Drupal 9 Process

Updating your Drupal version 8 to version 9 requires following a set of five steps-

Prepare the Server

In order to begin a successful project, you must update your server to the following setup-


Update to D8.8 or 8.9

Drupal has provided several intermediaries that you can use to ease your transition from version 8.8 or 8.9 to Drupal 9. One way is to update to either of these versions, then enable a dependency checker tool to detect deprecated code and eliminate it.

Upgrade Status Module

This module provides you with information about the state of your Drupal installation. You can use this information to identify errors before performing the upgrade.

Upgrade Code

Update custom modules and themes to use the old code dependencies that will no longer be supported in Drupal 9. Also, make sure to update any functions and actions of Drupal 8.8 or 8.9 so they are compatible with the new version Drupal 9.

Update Core Code and Database

Finally, it is time to make the move from Drupal 8 to Drupal 9. If there are no errors in installing the latest version of Drupal 8 (version 8.8), then you can proceed with updating the Core and Database by running update.php in your root directory.

Upgrade from Drupal 8.7 or earlier to Drupal 9

To get the Drupal 9 upgrade, first get to the stable and first minor release of Drupal 8: Drupal 8.8. This release has full compatibility with Drupal 9 and any previous releases are unlikely to match with it. Therefore, you must completely update your core and contributed themes and modules to Drupal 8 before you move to Drupal 9 upgrade.

You may choose to update the most recent releases of Drupal 8.8.x or 8.9.x for the best results; however, there are advantages and disadvantages to each approach. For example, if you use multiple releases per day in your workflow, then it is recommended that you update every single release every day until you have a version updated all the way through 8 or 9.

The advantage here is that you will face minimal steps in upgrading your database from 8.8 or 9 back down to Drupal v 8 or 9 again when working through this process one by one over time (which takes longer overall than just working on a single release).

The last thing to check is that none of your custom code uses any deprecated code in Drupal v 8 or 9, which can slow down updating when using multiple releases per day at once!

Upgrade from Drupal 8.8 or later to Drupal 9

If you are upgrading from Drupal 8.8 or higher versions to Drupal 9, ensure that all your custom and contributed modules are compatible with Drupal 8.8+. You can check the status of your upgrade through Upgrade Status.

Verify that none of your theme/s is using deprecated code and is compatible with Drupal 9. Once done, you can use the update.php file to update your core codebase to the latest Drupal 9 features.


Final Thoughts

As you now know how much it benefits your organization to switch to Drupal 9, we at CIGNEX could help you. We use our expertise and experience in migrating to ensure a smooth upgrade.

CIGNEX is a Drupal development company that provides custom solutions for clients. Our team of Drupal experts can help you build an effective, flexible, scalable, and modern web application. If you want to follow the standard procedure for upgrading your Drupal website, we'll enable you to do so by implementing agile methods in developing your project.

When it comes to upgrading Drupal, there is no straightforward upgrade path. There are over 5,000 contributed modules for Drupal, and each one of them performs a different task. A lot of planning and consideration has to go into the process to make sure that you don't break anything. Some people have been led to believe that upgrading Drupal is easy, but it all depends on the extent of your upgrade. We hope this guide helps you achieve an efficient and problem-free upgrade.