23 May 2024 - Dennis Egen

The Countdown Is On to Drupal 11 Innovation

Drupal 11 Innovation

Mark your calendars! Drupal 11 will be officially released the week of July 29, 2024. The launch of Drupal 11 will signal the start of an exciting time for the platform. Its CMS technologies are the product of years of forward-thinking work and development. The Drupal we all know and love, with its incredible suite of foundational developer tools, is set to add exciting new features, such as: 

  • The Drupal Recipes initiative for much easier site-building
  • Updated Admin Navigation Experience
  • New Access Policy API
  • Taxonomy Term Revisions and Moderation Support 

The Drupal Recipes initiative is centered around streamlining initial site-building steps by the use of “Recipes”. These Recipes are instructions for configuration and installation of various site needs such as contributed modules, content types and fields, and even content. 

With the new Admin Navigation Experience, users, content editors, site administrators, and site builders will have an easier time accessing and using the menu than ever before. Built from the ground up with countless hours of user feedback and testing, this promises to alleviate issues with Drupal’s administrative UI/UX. Additionally, with the New Access Policy API, Drupal permissions become easier to manage and, with added granularity, will help ensure users on your site have better permissions and never see or access sections they should be forbidden from. 

Finally, Taxonomy Terms are getting revisions and moderation support. So now along with Content Types and Paragraphs, Taxonomy Terms will track what was changed, when it was changed, why it was changed, and who made the change.

But this new update will also introduce a foundation for innovative features that will be built upon and included after the initial 11.0 release. Here we share what industry-leading updates you can expect.

Continuous, Planned Growth and Innovation with Drupal 11

As mentioned, this updated platform is revolutionizing content management system technologies and is already geared toward the future. These features are part of a larger ongoing initiative called Starshot. The objective of Starshot is to improve the Drupal experience from initial out-of-the-box setup to how your content is entered and managed. Though the final version of this initiative is not quite ready for prime time, it will ultimately go a long way in making the Drupal experience even better for everyone involved. 

In the meantime, Drupal 11 has incorporated new platform features that will seamlessly integrate with future Starshot content. This July, you will be able to explore Drupal 11’s:

  • Project Browser (download Contributed Modules directly through the Admin UI)
  • Automatic Updates for Drupal Core including patches and security releases
  • Experience Builder (no- or low-code page building)

If you’re looking to build a new site, there’s never been a better time to consider Drupal as your CMS of choice. For existing Drupal 10 sites, the Drupal 11 transition will be simple. Other Drupal updates have been less than ideal, but the upgrade to Drupal 11 will be an easy one as outlined below.

Planning and Designing for a Smoother Major Update

Some of you may have had some less-than-ideal experiences with past Drupal 7 to Drupal 8 or Drupal 9 upgrades. For those with existing Drupal 10 sites, before you fret about this next major upgrade, worry not. The upgrade from Drupal 10 to Drupal 11 is shaping up to be smoother and easier than past upgrades. This is due to several factors, but there are a few key changes the Drupal team has made to facilitate this transition.  

First, Drupal 11 is being released earlier in the current Drupal version’s lifecycle than in the past, so there will be plenty of time to upgrade. Second, nearly all features and deprecations in Drupal 11 are going to be set in Drupal 10.3, so if you’re on a regular cadence for minor Drupal versions then you’re already mostly there! Also, keep in mind that Drupal 10.2 will no longer be supported as of December 2024. So check to be sure you are up-to-date with these minor update versions to avoid any hiccups in your upgrade.

Now there is one exception to the Drupal 10.3 preparations you should know about. Six modules in Drupal Core will be moved out of Core and into their own Contributed Projects. These modules are as follows:

  • Actions UI
  • Book
  • Tracker
  • Forum
  • Statistics
  • Tour

What this means in practice is that if your site uses any of the above modules, you will need to update your Site or Composer file to include the Contributed version to continue using them. This was done to make the main core of Drupal smaller while allowing community development to continue, adding features at a more rapid pace. 

Enhanced Compatibility with Contributed Modules

While on the subject of Contributed modules, one of the biggest pain points of previous major version upgrades was Drupal’s incompatibility with your favorite or site-critical Contributed modules. This can be particularly frustrating since one of the informal selling points of Drupal for years has been its “Yes, there is a module for that!” capabilities revolving around a very robust ecosystem. Instead, we sometimes end up delaying or avoiding a platform update because a crucial module won’t be fully compatible with the new version. 

Thankfully, this is less of an issue for this upgrade. As of May 7, 2024, a full 70% of all Contributed modules are either fully compatible now or will be after minor changes that can be automatically fixed, reviewed, and released. This means unsupported modules should be a far smaller issue than in previous upgrades. Additionally, Drupal 11 has a dedicated team of expert Drupal developers who were selected to address modules that current maintainers are either unable or unwilling to fix, to make the upgrade even easier. 

What You Need for the Drupal 11 Update

With all that in mind, what are the requirements for Drupal 11? For starters, PHP 8.3 will be required, which if you’re currently on Drupal 10 means an upgrade. The good news is that considering current versions of Drupal 10.2 and the future 10.3 support 8.3, the upgrade should be smooth. More good news is that since PHP 8.3 is faster than previous versions, the update will positively impact your site performance. Additionally, Drupal 11 will require new database versions. If you use MySQL/Percona, then you’ll need version 8, MariaDB version 10.6, SQLite version 3.45, or PostgreSQL version 16. Further, using Composer you will need version 2.7. Finally, Drupal 11 will ship with Symfony 7, jQuery 4, and PHPUnit 10. But what does that mean for you? 

The recommended upgrade path will be to first upgrade to Drupal 10.3, which is set for release the week of June 17, 2024. This will ensure that you have time to check that all your Contrib modules and custom modules are compatible with Drupal 11 and, for those not on managed hosting, time to get your servers and dependencies upgraded. If you are unable or don’t want to immediately upgrade to Drupal 11, that’s fine! The next version of Drupal 10 (10.4) will be designated as Long Term Support (LTS), meaning it will continue to receive security updates through 2026. And if you do happen to upgrade to Drupal 11, then you will be supported with LTS versions through 2028. Who knows what the web will look like at that point, but one thing is for sure: your site will still be receiving regular security updates.

Resources to Support and Optimize Your Transition

If you want to check your site for compatibility with Drupal 11, be sure to install the Upgrade Status module for your site. This will scan through your site and environment and determine what, if anything, will need to be updated before it is ready for the upgrade. Additionally, for any custom code on your site that needs an upgrade, there are automated tools developers can run that will fix most errors, like Drupal Rector, which is used heavily by Drupal Core developers and will be used on countless Contributed modules to ensure compatibility. Of course, anything with additional complexity might require a more hands-on approach, but for many use cases, this will be incredibly useful and time-saving.

Even when equipped with resources and knowledge of this update, preparing for a major platform upgrade can feel overwhelming, with many questions remaining. Engine Room’s team is here to support our partners in every way, including preparing for technology transitions. Contact our team today to learn how we can help your company maximize its performance and platform utilization.

Consult with a Marketing Tech Expert