The release of Drupal 10 is scheduled for later this year, which means that there are some exciting new features to look forward to! This release marks a huge shift toward a more accessible and user-friendly Drupal admin, laying the foundation for a platform created for the “ambitious site builders,” as Dries Buytaert discussed in his DrupalCon Portland keynote and follow-up blog post.
There is so much to discover about this next major Drupal release. So let’s look at what Drupal 10 offers for your projects and what steps you can take to get ready.
- Drupal 10 Release Date
- New Features in Drupal 10
- Core Strategic Initiatives
- Planning for Drupal 10 Readiness
- We’re Here to Help!
Drupal 10 Release Date
Drupal 10 is coming soon: December 14, 2022, to be exact. While we had all hoped for a June 2022 release, the new December date allows for more work on integrating the upcoming CKEditor 5 and shipping Drupal 10.0.0 with optimal technical specs.
December 2022 will also see the release of Drupal 9.5. This will be the final release for Drupal 9, containing most of Drupal 10’s new features. The main difference is that 10 will remove all of Drupal 9’s deprecations. This means project owners can iteratively update their custom code for Drupal 10 and deploy these updates to their Drupal 9 production sites, rather than doing a big rebuild all in one shot.
Can’t wait to try it out? As of this writing, there is an alpha3 release available for testing and development purposes.
New Features in Drupal 10
So what do you get when upgrading to Drupal 10? The new features and approaches continue Drupal’s movement toward a simpler and more modern experience across user groups.
Most of these features are available in whole, or in part, in current and upcoming 9.x releases, making the move to Drupal 10 simpler and less disruptive for your teams.
Default Front-End Theme: Olivero
Initially added to Drupal core as an experimental theme, Olivero is now stable and the default theme in Drupal core as of the 9.4 release slated for June 2022. These are its main advantages:
- A simpler, more modern first impression, with lots of whitespace, clean fonts, and judicious use of colour and effects
- The most accessible Drupal theme yet, with out-of-the-box WCAG AA compliance
- Compatible with modern Drupal features like Layout Builder and embedded media
One of the more significant changes to how we do Drupal will be the new Starterkit theme. Presently in alpha, Starterkit will provide Drupalists with a new way of theming.
Historically, subthemes are dependent on base themes, like Classy, and are created as extensions of them to provide code at runtime. However, changing core base themes is hard.
The new Starterkit simply provides standard classes and markup without the runtime dependency on a core base theme. However, subtheming won’t go away: organizations can still create their own base themes to guide subthemes across their platforms.
With a complete rewrite and exciting new feature set, CKEditor 5 brings a modern, collaborative editor experience to Drupal 10.
The new CKEditor provides an interface familiar to users of tools like Microsoft Word or Google Docs. It also includes standard collaboration tools like comments, suggested edits, version history, and other popular editing conventions. It also features exports to .docx and .pdf files for easy porting to print formats.
The integration is still under development, but if you want to check it out, there is an experimental version already included in Drupal core 9.3.
After many requests, the Automatic Updates contributed module is under active development and will move into core in Drupal 10, enabling users to manage updates automatically. This module may go live with the initial release or in an early minor version like 10.1 or 10.2.
Automatic Updates makes minor release updates simpler and faster:
- Click a button, and Drupal—via Composer—automatically downloads the necessary files, runs a readiness check, and makes a staged copy of your site.
- Drupal then alerts you to the need for database updates or any other steps and allows you to continue or cancel.
- If you choose to continue, your site automatically goes into maintenance mode, the updates will apply, and you’ll be redirected to the database updates page if needed.
The initial core release of Automatic Updates will be limited to updating Drupal core and will only support unattended updates—which run on their own via cron—for patch releases. In time, the module will also handle automatic database updates, updates to contributed projects, and possibly broader application of cron-managed unattended updates.
Modules and Themes Leaving Drupal Core
To help streamline core and its maintenance, Drupal 10 will move some current core modules and themes into contributed projects:
👨💻 Ready to level up your team’s Drupal skills? Check out our upcoming Drupal training courses
Core Strategic Initiatives
Innovations in Drupal core are driven by strategic initiatives, which ensure the Drupal project aligns with stakeholder needs and market expectations as it moves forward. Members oversee the development, documentation, testing, and communication of Drupal core’s most significant changes.
- Drupal 10 Readiness - The Drupal 10 Readiness initiative oversees preparations for the release of Drupal 10. It tracks remaining tasks, ensures dependencies are updated, and deprecations are removed and supports project maintainers in preparing their projects.
- Easy Out of the Box - The Easy Out of the Box initiative makes the Drupal admin easier and more accessible for content creators, editors, and other non-technical users. It encompasses the new Claro admin theme, Media integration, and Layout Builder, seeking to enable all these tools in Drupal core by default.
- Gitlab Acceleration - While most strategic initiatives focus on what is in Drupal, the Gitlab Acceleration initiative is all about how we get things into Drupal. Its goal is to make contributing to Drupal easier by moving away from its custom systems toward the tools and processes commonly used across the industry.
- Project Browser - The Project Browser initiative seeks to make it easier for users–especially novice site builders–to find the modules they need. It will feature a visual browsing interface within the Drupal admin, with more intuitive filtering tools and iconography to convey key quality measures quickly. The ultimate goal is to take the mystery out of starting and building a new Drupal project.
These initiatives are ongoing and in various stages of progress. To learn more or participate, check out their respective pages for more information.
Planning for Drupal 10 Readiness
There are new version requirements for some critical Drupal 10 dependencies. You’ll want to make sure that your code and hosting environment are ready. Drupal 10 will require Symfony 6.2 and PHP 8.1 and ship with CKEditor 5 integration.
It’s also worth noting here that Drupal will officially drop support for Internet Explorer, freeing the project to take advantage of more modern front-end technologies.
Preparing for the Upgrade
Drupal 7 and Drupal 9 will both reach end of life–that is, the end of community-supported security updates and bug fixes–in November 2023. That gives you 11 months from Drupal 10’s release date to get your Drupal 9 site migrated before losing support. Drupal 9’s end of life date is driven by the end of life for both Symfony 4 and CKEditor 4 and is unlikely to change.
The good news is that Drupal’s major version updates are getting easier with each release. So while the leap from 7 to 9 is a major effort, going from 9 to 10 is truly the “easiest upgrade ever.”
Great news! You can start updating custom code and contrib projects now, and have a minimally stressful migration.
The current 9.3 core release is compatible with PHP 8.1. When Drupal 10 is released, it will be substantially the same as 9.5, but with the deprecations removed. Code that works with 9.5, and does not rely on those deprecations, will work in Drupal 10.
If you want to check and/or pitch in to help resolve the deprecation status of specific contributed projects, Acquia has put together a dashboard to track progress and highlight what each project needs to move forward.
If you’re on Drupal 8, your version of Drupal is past its end of life and no longer receiving community support, including security updates. So it’s time to move to 9 as soon as possible. Don’t worry: this is a pretty straightforward process, which we’ve discussed in 7 Frequently Asked Questions about Drupal 8 End of Life.
If you’re still running your sites on Drupal 7, you’re in good company. As of this writing, just over half of all reporting Drupal sites are running version 7. (You can find the latest numbers on Drupal.org.)
Even so, this means that you are running your sites on a platform that is now over a decade old. As a result, you are missing out on years of technical innovations, and while Drupal 7 is officially still supported by the community, support for its contributed projects has eroded as maintainers focus on more current technology.
Now is the time to grit your teeth and move on with your Drupal 9 migration. Check out 9 Frequently Asked Questions About Drupal 7 to get started and download our free eBook, Your Drupal 9 Migration: Agency or In-House? with tips for analyzing your project requirements and internal resources.
Upgrading from Drupal 6 to 9 or 10 is much like upgrading from 7. It’s a major rebuild requiring rewrites of custom code and the replacement of many contributed projects. It won’t be a small task, but the core migration tools for Drupal 9 and 10 include an upgrade path for configuration and content from Drupal 6 to get you started.
We’re Here to Help!
From training classes to implementation, Evolving Web can support your new and ongoing Drupal projects. If you want to learn more about our expertise, you can check this case study on how we helped McGill University in a big-scale Drupal migration by training their in-house team of developers.