Drupal release cycle changes longer support for Drupal 6

How long will Drupal 6 be supported?  

In the past Drupal 6 would only be supported until 3 months after the release of Drupal 8, but now Drupal 6 will be supported with security fixes until Drupal 8.3.

What is changing for Drupal 8?

  • Drupal 8 will have several releases with new features.
  • New Drupal 8 releases will come out every 6 months. They may have new features and will be called 8.1, 8.2, 8.3 etc.
  • The latest release will be the only one that's supported.
  • The end of the process will be a Long Term Support version or LTS. When that LTS arrives, no new features will be added, only security fixes.

Here's a graphical overview of how the releases will work:

Drupal Releases

Here's the big change: new features can now be added after the 8.0 release.

One of the downsides to Drupal's old release cycle is that new features couldn't be added.

Drupal 7 was essentially finished in 2010 (although it was released the next year). So no new features have been added to Drupal since 2010.

That feature freeze is great for enterprise customers, but very clunky for today's software developers who are used to working iteratively, making fast and regular updates.

In the proposal, Dries said that the new release cycle allows them to use "a more agile development approach of getting smaller changes out faster, seeing how they do, and making further changes based on real-world data. "

In the comments, Jesse Beach (who is responsible for much of the work on Drupal's UI) said, "Building a usable UI requires numerous iterations and we really don't get those over large major release cycles."

What does this mean for Drupal 9?

  • Drupal 9 will only start development when the the core team have completed a new feature big enough to justify a new version.
  • Drupal 9 should arrive on a normal schedule, which is 2 or 3 years after Drupal 8.

What does this mean for Drupal 6 and 7?

Wait, why are we bringing 6 and 7 into this?

Because this new release cycle may be good news for owners of Drupal 6 and 7 sites:

  • Drupal 6 would be security supported until 8's LTS rather than only until 8.0.
  • Drupal 7 would be security supported until 9's LTS rather than only until 9.0.

So this change could mean an extra 18 months of fixes. It's possible that this could mean Drupal 7 support until 2018 or 2019.