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Row of different coffees

Can you spot the differences between Drupal versions 7, 8 and 9?

In various areas, Drupal 7 differs from Drupal 8 and Drupal 9. Many of the structural changes that occur when a website migrates from Drupal 7 to Drupal 8 resemble a CMS migration rather than a redesign. The majority of Drupal users, for example, will appreciate Drupal 9's new theme and PHP library.

Fortunately, there is no major architectural difference between Drupal 8 and Drupal 9.

In reality, Drupal 9 is more of a minor overhaul, similar to 8.8 through 8.9, with a few new features. Remember how upgrading from Drupal 7 to Drupal 8 required you to rebuild Drupal from scratch? Don't worry; migrating from Drupal 8 to Drupal 9 is straightforward. Because Drupal 8 is backward compatible, you will not need to write any special code after upgrading. If you practise eliminating the old and deprecated code base, upgrading from Drupal 8 to Drupal 9 will be pretty painless.

If you're still running Drupal 7, you're on borrowed time. To avoid security and functionality issues, you should upgrade your Drupal website to Drupal 8 or Drupal 9.

Backward compatibility

As previously indicated, Drupal 9 is backward compatible. In other words, Drupal 8 is a continuation of Drupal 8. In short, unlike Drupal 7 and D8, Drupal 9 will be able to use modules, customisations, and data created in Drupal 8. The Drupal community focuses on breaking code rather than data to keep Drupal fast, simple to update, clutter-free, and up-to-date.

Error-free code base

Drupal 9 does not support deprecated codes from Drupal 8. Drupal 9 is built on Drupal 8, but with the option of code deprecation and enhanced dependency support. The solution ensures that deprecated code is no longer developed and that users no longer utilise it in the Drupal ecosystem.

This is done to make D9 a cleaner version, thus if you wish to update a module to make it compatible with D9, you must first remove the deprecated code. It will make the code more nimble and improve the Drupal website's performance.

New major versions of Twig and Symfony

One of the key differences between Drupal 7, Drupal 8, and Drupal 9 is the use of a new theme engine called Twig in Drupal 8 and Drupal 9.

Twig makes it easy to design PHP-based themes by utilising a simple and secure syntax. It is also the most advantageous feature of Drupal 8 and Drupal 9 because it improves the Drupal ecosystem as a whole.

The Drupal community may also upgrade the Twig version for Drupal 9 to Twig 2.0. These upgrades will assist you in improving the performance, development experience, and security of your Drupal 9 website.

Decoupled CMS

If you're not familiar with the term, decoupled (also known as “headless’ refers to the separation of the CMS's front-end and back-end. Drupal 7 is more intimately related than Drupal 8 and 9. Both were built with an API-first approach.

To improve user experience, the Drupal community is significantly investing in decoupled CMS, which integrates powerful front-end technologies used in domains with a Javascript framework like React or Angular. Drupal 7, Drupal 8, and Drupal 9 make it easy to build decoupled/headless applications.

The most important features of decoupled Drupal CMS:

  • Front-end based

  • Once you create content, you can publish it anywhere on your site

  • API-first approach 

  • Straightforward to implement

We'll be talking more about Decoupled Drupal in our next blog.


Drupal 9 is easier to use, more secure, dependable, versatile, and scalable than previous Drupal versions. Drupal 9 owners will find it easier to use, and developers will find it much easier to administer and update.

Field Types that are easy to use

Drupal 8 and Drupal 9 now enable new field types such as date, email, phone, link, and reference. Without having to describe the field types separately, programmers can simply add new fields to an existing database. They can add additional fields to comments, contact forms, blocks, and nodes by specifying field types, making the content management system more powerful and appealing to end users.


CKEditor, a new text editor, is now available in Drupal 8 and Drupal 9 core. Developers will have immediate access to editing tools that will allow them to successfully edit and organise information, as well as the rich text editor, which will allow them to employ traditional word processor functions. 

As a visual HTML editor in Drupal 8 and Drupal 9, CKEditor provides users with many WYSIWYG editing features that were previously only available in desktop-based software programmes.

Responsive images

Drupal 7 doesn't offer many options for selecting an image style based on the screen size of various devices. Drupal 8 and Drupal 9 developers can choose from a choice of image styles for each image and use a variety of tactics for devices with varying screen sizes.

Core offers multilingual modules

The most significant distinction between Drupal 7 and Drupal 8 is that Drupal 7 requires developers to use multiple modules when constructing multilingual websites. There are four new key modules at the heart of Drupal 8 and Drupal 9: language, content translation, interface translation, and configuration translation. Drupal 8 and Drupal 9's core multilingual modules make it simple for users to create multilingual websites.

Multilingual implementations in Drupal 8 and Drupal 9 are substantially easier to manage, thanks to smoother and more successful deployments with developer collaboration in Drupal 8 and Drupal 9.

Better Views

Views is now part of the core of Drupal 8, as opposed to Drupal 7, where it was only a module. Views are used to construct a variety of administrative displays, allowing developers to quickly update them when necessary. Because of enhanced Views, developers may now alter Views without putting in extra time or effort.

Content modelling Drupal, in comparison to other CMS systems, enables for more flexible content modelling. Creating content types and adding fields in a standard way is relatively simple with Drupal. These Drupal features help developers create organised content by making it easier to generate an uniform and adaptable display.

Drupal 7 did not significantly improve content modelling over Drupal 6. Because of core media handling and support for custom content entities, content modelling is simplified in Drupal 8 and Drupal 9, making the Drupal 8 and 9 platforms appropriate for any content-heavy web application.

Better performance

In contrast to Drupal 7 and Drupal 8, Drupal 9 requires an up-to-date hosting environment with the most recent PHP database engine or key-value store, which makes D9 faster than Drupal 7 and Drupal 8.

Final thought

This list isn’t exhaustive. Drupal provides new user-friendly features with each update, and the newest version is no exception. Every Drupal update improves the functionality of the most recent version, making it more user-friendly. While upgrading to Drupal 9 is necessary, staying with Drupal 8 is still an option if contributed modules are not yet available.

Here's how to prepare for Drupal 9.

We're the Drupal experts that other agencies come to for help. If you're just starting a migration, need help in the middle of a current project, or are thinking about moving to Drupal from another CMS, we can help. Contact us.

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