NDP Blog
Simon Whittaker

Drupal 9 - huh, what huh?

Back when Drupal 8 was first released, one of the biggest promises was that it would put an end to costly version rebuilds. Much like applications such as  Explorer, Chrome and Windows itself, where continuous incremental upgrades are now rolled out with almost no disruption to the user, the promise was that Drupal 8 had been designed with the same goal in mind.

And for those considering an investment in a new site and CMS, that promise was very tempting - and set Drupal aside from many alternatives, and its own past. Now the owner could decide if and when they rebuilt their site - indeed, if they needed to at all. Drupal’s modular structure and independent theme layer would allow an owner to add functionality, change look and feel, reorganise structure as and when they wanted. And based on Drupal 8, the underlying CMS would simply improve, year on year. And its security would remain top-notch throughout.

People even went as far as saying Drupal 8 would be the last version of Drupal that would ever be released. And now - Drupal 9 is scheduled for release in 2020 and everything has changed.

Or has it?


First off, Drupal 9 keeps the promise made when Drupal 8 was released - the upgrade from version 8 to version 9 will not require a rebuild and will be as seamless as upgrading from one version of Drupal 8 to another. This is because the architecture of Drupal 8 was designed to do it. But, you ask, if that’s the case, why the version change? Especially as it gave everyone a such a nasty shock.

Well, there is a reason - an important one - but it has to do with people who own Drupal 7 sites.


2021 marks the end of life for Drupal 7, beyond which it will not be supported and no further security patches will be released. The Drupal community wanted to put that date clearly in the minds of all Drupal 7 site owners. And in a slightly selfish way, they wanted to make sure that as many of those Drupal 7 site owners made the decision to rebuild their site using Drupal again.

So they decided to schedule a major update to version 8 at the same time - but call it version 9 (are you following me here?), so that owners of D7 sites didn’t feel like their rebuild on Drupal would be just a four year too-late catch-up. They would, instead, be jumping ahead of the pack.

This is kind of smart. It will help encourage many to stay with the platform who may otherwise have looked elsewhere for the ‘latest’ in CMS. But the downside is it spooked all of us Drupal 8 owners for a moment or two.

But they figured we’d get over it - and now we have.