The transition from Drupal 7 (D7) to Drupal 8 (D8) carried a lot of impact. The reason for this? In version 8, the core of Drupal was completely rewritten to comply with modern development standards.
Starting from Drupal 8, they switch to a continuous upgrade path from the previous major release using an update mechanism that works much smoother. In other words, Drupal is switching to a new system: the Drupal core release cycle with major, minor and patch releases. Drupal follows semver.org for version numbers, a widely used industry standard. As a result, updates now happen in smaller chunks of incremental, but less impactful changes. Instead of doing a major update every 5 years, we are switching to smaller updates in quicker sequence.
The difference between major, minor and patch releases
|Major release||Minor release||Patch release|
For example from Drupal 9 to Drupal 10
|For example from Drupal 9.1 to Drupal 9.2||For example from Drupal 9.2.1 to Drupal 9.2.2|
Releases over longer periods of time
|Semi-annual releases||Monthly releases (supplemented by exceptional security fixes)|
|Release with focus on larger updates that remove obsolete code.||Release with focus on new features and semantic versioning.||Release with focus on fixing bugs and security issues.|
Drupal Rector, a developer tool for automatically upgrading outdated code, makes major updates a lot easier. It provides simple and (semi-) automated code fix suggestions while upgrading sites. Up to about 70% of Drupal Core Modules (not the custom code) can actually be updated a lot easier than before. Just be aware that everything still needs to be tested thoroughly. This helps ensure that we can avoid large and very impactful updates like from Drupal 7 to 8 in the future. Please note that while Drupal Rector makes everything more efficient, it does not automate just about everything. For example, consider the following:
- You still have to update modules, which often contain breaking changes.
- You also have to update the custom code manually.
- You have to test everything thoroughly, which takes a lot of time.
- You have to update everything: not only Drupal minor updates but also major updates, PHP updates, changes to the application through infrastructure upgrades...
Since Drupal 8, Drupal has focused on continuous evolution, expansion, and improvement. In this way, Drupal evolves along with your organization.