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When to branch

As of 2023: In recent years, experience has shown that it takes about 40 days after branching to comfortably produce a Tiki release. It would be nice to have it be shorter with a nice clean 30 days, but in practice, this puts pressure on the community and release managers. It's not that there is that much work in number of hours (because trunk/master/main is in relatively good shape before branching, and the release process is almost all automated). However, we have multiple phases (alpha, beta, release candidates) and multiple sites to update (most of the *.tiki.org sites), which we do in phases, from less critical to most critical. So, we need to proceed to the upgrades, and allow enough time for feedback to come in, and to deal with it. If the schedule is too right, we don't have leeway to deal with unexpected issues. Thus, it's better to acknowledge that a regular release process should take about 40 days. The release managers can schedule the various steps at a good pace (as if it was 30-35 days), and leave the 5-10 days buffer at the end. So either it is used to deal with unexpected issues, or to give more time for the community to fix bugs, and improve the documentation. These are general guidelines, and the release manager can shorten or extend as per When to release - think popcorn


During this 40-day period, any risky work should be done in a merge request or a feature branch. We want innovation and experimentation to happen at all times, and be visible to the community.

The content below is kept for posterity.










Historically, we branch several weeks/months before an official release. However, it would also be possible to agree on a freeze and branch much later. Please add your arguments and preferences below.

Benefits of branching early (ex.: 4-6 weeks before)

  • Devs can still work on unfinished or new features
    • after all, not everyone may want to just fix, or would have to make himself familiar with unknown code first
  • (Psychological) Signal that freeze is in effect (only disadvantage in case if we do the way as in past merging to trunk is that people need to SVN switch, see below Merge or not to merge)
  • no accidental breaking code by devs not knowing of feature freeze (living in a bubble?)
  • clear and better controllable border between trunk and feature-freezed code
    • try on trunk. working? backport to branch
      • new and unexperienced devs won't have to fear of doing something really bad when working on trunk

Accept Undecided Reject
2 0 1
  • Kissaki
  • luci
  • marclaporte

Benefits of branching as late as possible

  • Less work of merging from branches/4 to trunk (in case we need to merge - see below)
    • and possibly the other way around
  • (Forcibly) Route manpower to only fixing and improving present and presently working (freezed) features.
  • When release is soon coming, new features can be done in an experimental branch (and merged into trunk later)

Accept Undecided Reject
2 2 1
  • jonnybradley
  • marclaporte
  • luci
  • Kissaki
  • sylvieg
After thinking about it more, because of the merges, I accept this only when I am forced to switch to work on 4.x branch after feature freeze — luci But where do you commit the thing you are developing - in your local or personal branches - and after do a bug commit where you lost the commit message? - sylvieg

Data

To help with decision making, it would be nice to have some historical perspective

Version Branch date .0 release date (SecDB creation) Freeze duration (days) Date last merge
3.x 2009-02-28 r16998 2009-05-19 r18916 80 2009-05-19 r18920 (18880 to 18916)
4.x 2009-11-03 r22815 2009-11-16 r23323 13 2009-12-18 r23957 (23892 to 23908)
5.x 2010-03-09 r26025 2010-06-07 r27534 61 2010-08-07 r28381 (28273 to 28378)
6.x 2010-09-21 r29485 2010-11-09 r30607 49 2010-12-14 r31414 (31378 to 31409)
7.x 2011-03-24 r33628 2011-06-09 r34878 77 2011-08-16 r36217 (36203 to 36216)
8.x 2011-10-03 r37900 2011-11-10 r38776¹ 38 ?

¹ 8.1 data. 8.0 was released a week earlier, but was broken and never announced.

Marc's thoughts

Some things to think about:

  • How many hours will be needed (can differ from version to version)
    • Tiki24 was a small, incremental release so it takes fewer hours
    • Tiki25 is a huge release with major non-optional changes like Bootstrap 4 to 5
  • How many weeks to absorb changes
    • Ex.: coordinate with many people about upgrading various sites
  • Continuous access to Pre-dogfood servers during the release process help keep trunk stable and thus, help reduce work during the release period.


Conclusion: We should fix all known regression bugs before branching in order to avoid backports, and thus proceed to serious testing on Pre-dogfood servers. We should try to have the shortest realistic branching period, and this depends on the state of trunk. Even if trunk is in super good shape, it's unrealistic to have it faster than 3 weeks (for a small release) because we have many actions to coordinate with many people (like upgrading various sites, getting feedback, etc.). For a big release, we should try to keep branching to a maximum of 6 weeks.

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