The success of any software release in an Open Source project depends on people getting involved, and Joomla! 1.6 is no exception. As we get closer to a stable Joomla! 1.6 release I wanted to take a moment and go over the timeline to stable and how you can play a part in making it better, faster.


What follows is a timeline (ironically, but deliberately, without a lot of dates) of milestones for the 1.6 release cycle with descriptions of what they mean and how we envision them unfolding.

Starting Now

The Joomla! Bug Squad (JBS) is being mobilized to help bring 1.6 in to land. From here on out any issues found in the trunk (1.6 development stream) should be reported in the issue tracker so they can be triaged and prioritized. While still rough around the edges, the code base in the trunk is structurally sound and moving quickly and steadily in the right direction.

Anyone working in branches should be wrapping up any work and getting the branches up to date with trunk so that code can be reviewed before Milestone 1. Any remaining items from the feature patch tracker will be reviewed as time permits. All branches and feature patches must be complete and fully functional with the current trunk for review.

Milestone 1 - 1.6 Feature Branch Freeze - 5 May 2010

As Hannes announced last week at the Dutch JoomlaDay and Andrew announced on the mailing list yesterday we have settled on 5 May 2010 as the final date for feature branch consideration for the 1.6 development cycle.

At this milestone the feature patch tracker will be temporarily closed for new submissions. No new feature patches or branches will be considered for 1.6. Inclusion of new features or branches will be deferred to the 1.7 release cycle. All work in the trunk will be geared towards stabilizing the features in the trunk at this milestone. Bugs and other issues will continue to be managed via the issue tracker.

It is important to note that any work on features in branches can (and should) continue after this milestone; it will just no longer be geared towards 1.6 in favor of 1.7. It should be easier to keep branches up to date with the trunk beyond this milestone as we expect there will be fewer drastic changes to the code base than during the alpha phase of the development cycle.

Milestone 2 - 1.6 Beta

Once we have passed the feature branch freeze milestone we will be focused on resolving as many issues as possible from the issue tracker. At the point in which we are reasonably certain that all of the major systems in 1.6 work as expected we will prepare Joomla! 1.6 Beta1 for release (Milestone 2). We realize that some sub-systems still may be incomplete, but every effort will be made to keep that to a minimum.

At this milestone all commits to trunk will be managed by the JBS in an effort to maintain a high level of quality control and clarity over the changes that are made. Automated testing will play a steadily increasing role in this. Time based Beta releases will be made on a 2 week cycle starting at the milestone in an effort to provide incremental, continuously improving builds for extension developers to build against and users to evaluate. This means if Beta1 is released on 1 June 2010 then Beta2 will be released on 15 June 2010 and Beta3 (if necessary) will be released on 29 June 2010 for example. Those time based beta releases will continue until we have eliminated all priority 1-3 issues from the tracker and the system is polished enough for a general availability release.

Milestone 3 - 1.6 RC (Release Candidate)

At the point where we feel Joomla! 1.6 is ready for prime time we will prepare the first RC packages for release (Milestone 3). This milestone indicates that we believe 1.6 is ready for early adopters and integrators to be treating it as a stable release. We expect no API changes, minimal user interface changes, and minimal behavioral changes between the RC milestone and the general availability release.

Similar to the Beta phase we will be doing time based RC releases every 2 weeks until we are confident that all systems are working, user interface is finalized, and all reasonable issues have been eliminated.

Milestone 4 - 1.6 GA (General Availability)

The final milestone for the 1.6 development cycle is the general availability release. At this point 1.6 will be managed in the same way as 1.5 is managed by the Joomla! Bug Squad. The feature patch tracker will be opened again and re-geared for the 1.7 release cycle. Feature branch work and review will continue re-focused on 1.7.

Getting Involved

Joomla 1.6 includes many familiar and new features and will require a great deal of polishing and testing before it will be ready for general availability. As we enter and progress though the Beta and final stages, the management of the Joomla 1.6 release shifts to the Joomla Bug Squad. The conversations begin to change from "hey, wouldn't this be cool to add?" to "does this actually work?". As a result, there are a few changes coming that people need to be aware of.

Joomla! Issue Tracker

Firstly, we've rebooted the issue tracker, and this will be actively maintained from now on. The issue tracker is open to reports from any registered user at Code patches are always welcome to assist in resolving an issue, but please ensure that they have been made against the most recent version of the source code. This will assist us in resolving issues efficiently. Please make sure to monitor issues you report and that you respond to requests for information. The issue tracker is the center of the Joomla Bug Squad universe. This is the master list of all issues that we need to deal with to stabilize the software for release.

Joomla! Bug Squad Chat

Secondly, we've created a new IRC channel #joomla-bug-squad on and this replaces previous in-house communications channels that currently exist. This channel is completely open to the public and is where most bug squad members will hang out to discuss issues in real-time. In addition, several senior developers will be hovering as time permits to assist people to learn how 1.6 is different from previous releases. You should be familiar with the issue tracker and code repository when participating in this channel as it will be referred to constantly.

Joomla! Development Mailing Lists

Lastly, activity on the CMS Development mailing list will likely drop off during this period. This will be offset by an increase in activity in the Bug Squad mailing list as people work through issues that they find in the software. The Bug Squad mailing list is open to the public to read and join (there is a one-off sign-up process to help mitigate spammers).

Please note that the Joomla forums will not be actively monitored for Joomla 1.6 issues until after the GA release. Please do not report issues on the forum as they may become lost in the traffic.

In summary, if you want to get involved in the production of the next ground-breaking version of Joomla, there are three things you can do:

For those looking for a different kind of challenge, you can also get involved in Unit and System Testing which are part of the quality control system for the Joomla source code. If this strikes your fancy please hop into the IRC channel or join the mailing list and put your hand up, we'd love to have you help!

If you have any questions about the Bug Squad or how you can help get 1.6 out the door, don't hesitate to drop into the IRC channel or post on the mailing list. Ian Maclennan and Mark Dexter are the appointed coordinators of the Bug Squad and they will also be happy to answer any questions.