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Migrating a site to Drupal 9 from Drupal 7 can seem like. daunting task. However, we’re Drupal experts; we have over 10 years of experience with the CMS. We’ve designed, built and host(ed) many large Drupal sites over those years. Many of them were on Drupal 6 or 7, but now is the time for existing and new clients to begin the Drupal 9 migration. In fact, some, like Hackney Education are already there. 

In leading by example, our own site is also running on Drupal 9.

The end-of-life date for Drupal 7 was initially scheduled for November 2021, however, it was moved to November 2022. Nonetheless, there is no better time to start working on your Drupal upgrade than now. In addition to Acquia's future developments being centred on Drupal 9, the migration process is time-consuming if you have the resources.

It's an excellent question for people who are perplexed as to why the number 8 was skipped in the previous paragraph. Drupal 8 is an option, and we performed several upgrades and migrations from Drupal 7 to Drupal 8 prior to the introduction of Drupal 9. Drupal 8 will lo formal support in November 2021 due to Symfony 3's end of life. You should upgrade to Drupal 9 now that it is ready (and Drupal 10 is on the way).

It takes approximately the same amount of time to migrate from Drupal 7 to Drupal 8 or Drupal 9, and moving to 9 puts you on the most recent, stable version of Drupal.

The good news is that if you updated to Drupal 8 early, upgrading to 9 won't be nearly as tough as upgrading from 7, and it should go pretty smoothly for you. And if you already have a strong cause to upgrade to 8, such as an internal requirement, your efforts will not be in useless, since many parts of the upcoming 8 to 9 transition will be straightforward.

The benefits of upgrading from Drupal 7 to Drupal 9 (and the migration process)

It's vital to realise that upgrading from Drupal 7 to Drupal 8 or 9 is a time-consuming procedure that effectively requires a site rebuild. Existing Node infrastructure and content mapping can help speed things up, but the frontend code and core Drupal functionality/theming will need to be rewritten from the ground up to fit with new technologies and take use of new features.

For your own internal budgeting and planning, consider this a complete site rebuild rather than an upgrade. If you've been considering a website redesign, this is a fantastic time to do so because the frontend code will be changed anyhow.

There are a few things to keep in mind, as well as some new facts to be aware of

It will be a big adjustment, especially for teams who have only worked with previous Drupal systems, but it's worth noting that sites all around the world are going through comparable changes. Decide whether or if you want to remodel with a suitable partner (like us). Make a strategy that incorporates a comprehensive discovery phase.

Twig Theming, templating, and administration have all been redesigned to be more contemporary and scalable. Many donated modules have been included in Drupal Core, and Twig has replaced PHPTemplate as the default template engine. Composer has replaced Drush as the mechanism of adding modules. All of these improvements are excellent moves toward making the platform more contemporary and manageable, but they will take time to execute. Frontend templates must be rebuilt due to the templating engine change, which involves recoding frontend designs and theming them onto Drupal.

Because of this, if you're considering doing this, you should also think about redesigning it, because new designs will need frontend recording in the future. It's easier to pay once and get the site you want now than to go through the frontend process (with the payment) again a year from now when you redesign the site.

Drupal configuration shouldn't stop after the frontend is done. A few modules have been consolidated in Drupal 9 and others have been replaced by new Drupal 9 functionality.


It's a good idea to perform a functionality audit early on in a project to identify where you can retool features to utilise Drupal Core instead of Drupal modules. It will be easier to unearth and plan for this if you include a comprehensive discovery process from the beginning.


If you're intending to move existing content from Drupal 7 to Drupal 9, rather than rebuilding, we recommend using the Migration module to create a bespoke migration setup. To retain simple page layout management, if you're using paragraphs to manage text on pages in Drupal 7 or Drupal 8, you'll need to plan a transfer of that material to new Drupal 9 fields.

You'll need to pay additional attention while transferring your site if it's larger and includes many API interfaces, which has always been a popular reason to utilise Drupal. Some people may have relied on Modules that are no longer relevant or essential, and that may now be performed in more native ways.

It's a large project that requires a wide range of talents, including front and backend development. That work, on the other hand, comes with some major rewards. While it is necessary to upgrade in order to stay on a supported and secure Drupal version, there are a number of benefits that will make the move simpler. Here's a summary of some of the most significant benefits:

The new templates are easier to maintain and create because they are designed with Symfony and Twig, resulting in speedier development and a less technically complicated site to work on.

  • Third-party modules will become less necessary when new features are added to Core. Fewer modules to manage imply a quicker, more secure, and easier-to-keep site, removing possible points of failure, vulnerability, and bloat that may slow down a site.
  • The frontend site performance has increased thanks to the new templating framework.
  • The Drupal admin dashboard will be significantly quicker and more responsive, making it easier to edit on mobile and tablet devices.

Perhaps the most significant advantage of this update is the route it paves for the future. Rather than requiring a whole rebuild in the future, Drupal 9 expects to make gradual modifications, which means future upgrades should not require a site rebuild and will be more like the regular and dependable WordPress edition upgrades.


Although the date for upgrading to Drupal 9 has been pushed out (due to COVID), there are a number of advantages to beginning the process sooner rather than later. You won't have to rush against the clock because it's such a large project. You can include your redesign into the update if you start early enough and avoid the need for a second frontend restyle!

While it is difficult to work when migrating a site to Drupal 9 from Drupal 7, we feel it should be an empowering endeavour since you will be able to improve your website.

If you have any questions or complaints regarding the process, please contact us, and if you'd want us to assist you with migrating to Drupal 9 as fast and painlessly as possible, please contact us.

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