Mozilla moving Firefox to a faster 4 week release cycle

    Mozilla moving Firefox to a faster 4 week release cycle

    Mozilla moving Firefox to a faster 4 week release cycle


    Posted: 17 Sep 2019

    Overview

    We typically ship a major Firefox browser (Desktop and Android) release every 6 to 8 weeks. Building and releasing a browser is complicated and involves many players. To optimize the process, and make it more reliable for all users, over the years we’ve developed a phased release strategy that includes ‘pre-release’ channels: Firefox Nightly, Beta, and Developer Edition. With this approach, we can test and stabilize new features before delivering them to the majority of Firefox users via general release.

    Today’s announcement

    And today we’re excited to announce that we’re moving to a four-week release cycle! We’re adjusting our cadence to increase our agility, and bring you new features more quickly. In recent quarters, we’ve had many requests to take features to market sooner. Feature teams are increasingly working in sprints that align better with shorter release cycles. Considering these factors, it is time we changed our release cadence.

    Starting Q1 2020, we plan to ship a major Firefox release every 4 weeks. Firefox ESR release cadence (Extended Support Release for the enterprise) will remain the same. In the years to come, we anticipate a major ESR release every 12 months with 3 months support overlap between new ESR and end-of-life of previous ESR. The next two major ESR releases will be ~June 2020 and ~June 2021.

    Shorter release cycles provide greater flexibility to support product planning and priority changes due to business or market requirements. With four-week cycles, we can be more agile and ship features faster, while applying the same rigor and due diligence needed for a high-quality and stable release. Also, we put new features and implementation of new Web APIs into the hands of developers more quickly. (This is what we’ve been doing recently with CSS spec implementations and updates, for instance.)

    In order to maintain quality and minimize risk in a shortened cycle, we must:

    • Ensure Firefox engineering productivity is not negatively impacted.
    • Speed up the regression feedback loop from rollout to detection to resolution.
    • Be able to control feature rollout based on release readiness.
    • Ensure adequate testing of larger features that span multiple release cycles.
    • Have clear, consistent mitigation and decision processes.

    Firefox rollouts and feature experiments

    Given a shorter Beta cycle, support for our pre-release channel users is essential, including developers using Firefox Beta or Developer Edition. We intend to roll out fixes to them as quickly as possible. Today, we produce two Beta builds per week. Going forward, we will move to more frequent Beta builds, similar to what we have today in Firefox Nightly.

    Staged rollouts of features will be a continued best practice. This approach helps minimize unexpected (quality, stability or performance) disruptions to our release end-users. For instance, if a feature is deemed high-risk, we will plan for slow rollout to end-users and turn the feature off dynamically if needed.

    We will continue to foster a culture of feature experimentation and A/B testing before rollout to release. Currently, the duration of experiments is not tied to a release cycle length and therefore not impacted by this change. In fact, experiment length is predominantly a factor of time needed for user enrollment, time to trigger the study or experiment and collect the necessary data, followed by data analysis needed to make a go/no-go decision.
    Despite the shorter release cycles, we will do our best to localize all new strings in all locales supported by Firefox. We value our end-users from all across the globe. And we will continue to delight you with localized versions of Firefox.

    Firefox release schedule 2019 – 2020

    Firefox engineering will deploy this change gradually, starting with Firefox 71. We aim to achieve 4-week release cadence by Q1 2020. The table below lists Firefox versions and planned launch dates. Note: These are subject to change due to business reasons.



    Process and product quality metrics

    As we slowly reduce our release cycle length, from 7 weeks down to 6, 5, 4 weeks, we will monitor closely. We’ll watch aspects like release scope change; developer productivity impact (tree closure, build failures); beta churn (uplifts, new regressions); and overall release stabilization and quality (stability, performance, carryover regressions). Our main goal is to identify bottlenecks that prevent us from being more agile in our release cadence. Should our metrics highlight an unexpected trend, we will put in place appropriate mitigations.

    Finally, projects that consume Firefox mainline or ESR releases, such as SpiderMonkey and Tor, now have more frequent releases to choose from. These 4-week releases will be the most stable, fastest, and best quality Firefox builds.

    In closing, we hope you’ll enjoy the new faster cadence of Firefox releases. You can always refer to Firefox Release Calendar - MozillaWiki for the latest release dates and other information. Got questions? Please send email to [email protected].


    Source: Moving Firefox to a faster 4-week release cycle - Mozilla Hacks - the Web developer blog

    Brink's Avatar Posted By: Brink
    17 Sep 2019


  1. Posts : 11,207
    Windows / Linux : Arch Linux
       #1

    Hi folks

    this could be good or bad depending on whether you use this on an individual machine or have to maintain a lot.

    Problem with frequent releases is that people could have all sorts of versions on their machines so maintenance becomes an issue in a large organisation -- extra work on the I,T "crew" -- and in lots of places support is already being cut back to a bare minimum.

    So in theory a great idea but in practice bound to be drawbacks too. Apart from special testing environments I rather like the idea of LTS releases (Long Term support) whether Windows, Linux or anyting else -- especially as I come from an Engineering background and our motto which IMO has stood the test of time is "If it ain't Broke .. Don't fix it". !!

    However frequent updates do work in some cases such as anybody who uses Arch Linux will probably know -- this usually has quite leading edge support --the repositories are updated frequently and then the user simply does a system update with a single command "pacman -Syu") --job done --and arch linux appears by all ccounts to be reasonably stable with this approach.

    I'm not sure whether windows, or applications running on Windows would benefit from this type of approach though. One advantage is that any new installations of Windows would always have the latest updated version though.

    Cheers
    jimbo
      My Computer


  2. Posts : 329
    Windows 10 x64 v2004 OS Build 19041.804
       #2

    "And today we’re excited to announce that we’re moving to a four-week release cycle! We’re adjusting our cadence to increase our agility, and bring you new features more quickly. In recent quarters, we’ve had many requests to take features to market sooner. Feature teams are increasingly working in sprints that align better with shorter release cycles. Considering these factors, it is time we changed our release cadence."


    It seems to me that the release cycle was already pretty fast and there weren't many changes or new features in each new release for that reason, so I don't understand what's driving this.
      My Computer


  3. Posts : 172
    WIN10 LTSC, Linux
       #3

    They need to slow the @#$% down, not speed up. And more 'features'...all I hear is more 'bloat' I don't want.
      My Computer


  4. Posts : 1,602
    Windows 7 Home Premium x64
       #4

    I'm glad I'm using Firefox ESR versions on many of my older computers

    Mozilla's pace of releasing new Firefox browser versions every 4 weeks next year is a lot faster than Microsoft's "two feature upgrades" per year schedule

    and you win10 users out there thought 2 feature updates a year from MS is bad enough; Mozilla is taking that into overdrive with Firefox in 2020
      My Computers


  5. Posts : 25,687
    Windows 11 Pro 22621.160
       #5

    Victek said:
    "And today we’re excited to announce that we’re moving to a four-week release cycle! We’re adjusting our cadence to increase our agility, and bring you new features more quickly. In recent quarters, we’ve had many requests to take features to market sooner. Feature teams are increasingly working in sprints that align better with shorter release cycles. Considering these factors, it is time we changed our release cadence."


    It seems to me that the release cycle was already pretty fast and there weren't many changes or new features in each new release for that reason, so I don't understand what's driving this.
    Competition Google Chrome releases a New Version faster that 4 weeks.
      My Computer


 

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