Major Releases #
Each major release goes through the following milestones and stages:
Announcement Preparation #
A release may be triggered for several reasons.
- An event or dependency in the development roadmap may require a release.
- There may be a desire to have a major release included in a major platform release like the next version of Ubuntu.
- Or it may be that a significant set of features has matured to the point that they are ready for general usage.
Whatever the reason, the first step in the determination by the maintainers that a release is needed.
The maintainers will create a Github project to track the release. The maintainers will schedule a meeting to review outstanding Pull Requests.
Announcment milestone #
Next, the maintainers will make a formal announcment on the forum. The announcement will layout the expected timeline for the release and call for final submissions. The announcment should be further communicated through official and unofficial channels like Twitter and Reddit.
Final Feature Submission Stage #
The purpose of the announcment is to let contributors know that a feature freeze is imminent. Any work in process should be finalized and a Pull Request submitted.
At this point, a PR may not be ready to merge and can be marked as draft. Creating the PR makes the maintainer community aware of pending changes that the contributor would like to have considered for the release. The maintainers will allow time (typically 1-2 weeks) for Pull Requests to be submitted.
The announcment should include a date for the PR Review meeting.
The announcment should also announce a splash-screen contest and provide a forum thread for submissions.
PR Review Milestone #
After the Submission Stage is closed, the maintainers will review all outstanding Pull Requests. For each one, they will determine if the feature is sufficiently mature to include in the release. Specifically they will consider:
- How significant is the feature
- How likely is the feature to negatively impact user workflow
- How well documented is the new feature
- How much additional testing and stabilization is likely required
Maintainers will strive to include as many mature features as possible while minimizing the time needed to resolve bugs, complete documentation, and stabilize the release.
Each PR will be tagged with the current release if it is to be included.
Following the PR Review, any new feature Pull Requests will be held for a later version. Contributors should adjust their expectations about code reviews.
PR Merge Phase #
During this phase, development focus will turn towards merging the remaining tagged outstanding PRs. After the PR Merge phase, only bug-fix PRs will be merged.
Release Candidates #
After all outstanding PRs are merged and all critical bugs are resolved, a Release Candidate (RC) version will be created and a public announcment made. This is a request to the community for intentional and deliberate testing with the goal of uncovering as many bugs as possible. This is the point at which the formal branch is created for the releases. First, create a branch called “releases/FreeCAD-X-Y” where X and Y are the major and minor release numbers. Next use the GitHub “Draft new release” button on the Releases page to create a new release. Set it up to create a new tag with the release number in it, e.g. “0.21rc1” and ensure that the release is based on the “releases/FreeCAD-X-Y” branch. Mark the release as a “pre-release” so that it does not display as the latest version. Attach all of the necessary installers, appimages, packages, etc. to this release. Note that the release can be edited after creation, so assets can be added as they become available.
Translation files will be pushed to CrowdIn and a public call for translation assistance should be made.
Release notes should be reviewed at this point and any ommisions corrected.
Any problems identified with the release candidate should be addressed via PRs made to the release branch. If necessary, multiple release candidates may be tagged using the same “Draft new release” process described above, and incrementing the release candidate number.
Final Release #
- The result of the splash screen contest is announced and the new splash screen is added to the source, if that was not done in earlier stages.
- Update all versions in a number of source code locations where they are not automatically generated:
- Manually tag the release on the appropriate branch using semantic versioning for the tag name, e.g. “1.2.3”. Launch the various build-creation tasks based on this tag.
- Conda builds for all platforms
- Manual compilation of a Windows LibPack-based binary and NSIS-created installer
- Sign and notarize the Mac OS Conda builds once they are complete (See Code signing)
- (Future work) Sign the Windows builds
- Create a new release on GitHub, this time marking the “Set as latest release” box and not marking it as a pre-release, and setting the release to use the tag created above. It’s best to ensure all assets are attached prior to publication of the final release, so save the release as a draft as necessary until all builds are completed. The release contains a release announcement text that should be appropriate for the general user audience (not targeted at developers).
- Prepare a packager’s release files and alert the packagers.
- Update the website downloads page to point to the new files
- Update the website features page to point to the new release notes
- Update the stable branch of the Snap package to the new version number by editing snap/snapcraft.yaml
Release Announcment #
Once all release files are in place, a release announcement should be posted to all “official” FreeCAD channels:
- FreeCAD News (https://blog.freecad.org)
- The FreeCAD Forum (https://forum.freecad.org)
- Mastodon (automatic from the blog post)
There are also other active communities where FreeCAD does not maintain any sort of official presence, but where nevertheless users are likely to benefit from an announcement:
- Yorik’s blog
- Ondsel blog