Developing software in the Real World

Bradley Holt: The Case For Rapid Release Cycles

Bradley Holt has posted an interesting article on why rapid release cycles are a good idea for Zend Framework major versions.

For a framework (and maybe for other software), I think the following rules are necessary in order for a rapid release cycle to work:

  • Minimize backwards compatibility changes between major releases. Targeted and strategic refactoring, rather than major overhauls, are preferable if you are releasing often. Small backwards compatibility changes makes migrating from one major version to another much easier.
  • Mark some major releases as “Long Term Support” (LTS) releases. Provide bug fix updates and security patches to these releases for three to five years. This provides a “safe” option to those who value stability and don’t want to upgrade very often. In the context of Zend Framework, it is obviously Zend’s decision if they want to take on this burden. If not, then I don’t think a rapid release cycle is viable.

What are the concerns with a rapid release cycle? I’ll paraphrase, and then address, the major concerns that I’ve heard.

Well worth a read.

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