Django’s release process

Official releases

Since version 1.0, Django’s release numbering works as follows:

  • Versions are numbered in the form A.B or A.B.C.
  • A.B is the feature release version number. Each version will be mostly backwards compatible with the previous release. Exceptions to this rule will be listed in the release notes.
  • C is the patch release version number, which is incremented for bugfix and security releases. These releases will be 100% backwards-compatible with the previous patch release. The only exception is when a security or data loss issue can’t be fixed without breaking backwards-compatibility. If this happens, the release notes will provide detailed upgrade instructions.
  • Before a new feature release, we’ll make alpha, beta, and release candidate releases. These are of the form A.B alpha/beta/rc N, which means the Nth alpha/beta/release candidate of version A.B.

In git, each Django release will have a tag indicating its version number, signed with the Django release key. Additionally, each release series has its own branch, called stable/A.B.x, and bugfix/security releases will be issued from those branches.

For more information about how the Django project issues new releases for security purposes, please see our security policies.

Feature release
Feature releases (A.B, A.B+1, etc.) will happen roughly every eight months – see release process for details. These releases will contain new features, improvements to existing features, and such.
Patch release

Patch releases (A.B.C, A.B.C+1, etc.) will be issued as needed, to fix bugs and/or security issues.

These releases will be 100% compatible with the associated feature release, unless this is impossible for security reasons or to prevent data loss. So the answer to “should I upgrade to the latest patch release?” will always be “yes.”

Long-term support release

Certain feature releases will be designated as long-term support (LTS) releases. These releases will get security and data loss fixes applied for a guaranteed period of time, typically three years.

See the download page for the releases that have been designated for long-term support.

Release cadence

Starting with Django 2.0, version numbers will use a loose form of semantic versioning such that each version following an LTS will bump to the next “dot zero” version. For example: 2.0, 2.1, 2.2 (LTS), 3.0, 3.1, 3.2 (LTS), etc.

SemVer makes it easier to see at a glance how compatible releases are with each other. It also helps to anticipate when compatibility shims will be removed. It’s not a pure form of SemVer as each feature release will continue to have a few documented backwards incompatibilities where a deprecation path isn’t possible or not worth the cost. Also, deprecations started in an LTS release (X.2) will be dropped in a non-dot-zero release (Y.1) to accommodate our policy of keeping deprecation shims for at least two feature releases. Read on to the next section for an example.

Deprecation policy

A feature release may deprecate certain features from previous releases. If a feature is deprecated in feature release A.x, it will continue to work in all A.x versions (for all versions of x) but raise warnings. Deprecated features will be removed in the B.0 release, or B.1 for features deprecated in the last A.x feature release to ensure deprecations are done over at least 2 feature releases.

So, for example, if we decided to start the deprecation of a function in Django 4.2:

  • Django 4.2 will contain a backwards-compatible replica of the function which will raise a RemovedInDjango51Warning. This warning is silent by default; you can turn on display of these warnings with the -Wd option of Python.
  • Django 5.0 (the version that follows 4.2) will still contain the backwards-compatible replica. This warning becomes loud by default and will likely be quite annoying.
  • Django 5.1 will remove the feature outright.

A more generic example:

  • X.0
  • X.1
  • X.2 LTS
  • Y.0: Drop deprecation shims added in X.0 and X.1.
  • Y.1: Drop deprecation shims added in X.2.
  • Y.2 LTS: No deprecation shims dropped (while Y.0 is no longer supported, third-party apps need to maintain compatibility back to X.2 LTS to ease LTS to LTS upgrades).
  • Z.0: Drop deprecation shims added in Y.0 and Y.1.

Supported versions

At any moment in time, Django’s developer team will support a set of releases to varying levels. See the download page for the current state of support for each version.

  • The current development master will get new features and bug fixes requiring non-trivial refactoring.

  • Patches applied to the master branch must also be applied to the last feature release branch, to be released in the next patch release of that feature series, when they fix critical problems:

    • Security issues.
    • Data loss bugs.
    • Crashing bugs.
    • Major functionality bugs in newly-introduced features.

    The rule of thumb is that fixes will be backported to the last feature release for bugs that would have prevented a release in the first place (release blockers).

  • Security fixes and data loss bugs will be applied to the current master, the last two feature release branches, and any other supported long-term support release branches.

  • Documentation fixes generally will be more freely backported to the last release branch. That’s because it’s highly advantageous to have the docs for the last release be up-to-date and correct, and the risk of introducing regressions is much less of a concern.

As a concrete example, consider a moment in time halfway between the release of Django 5.1 and 5.2. At this point in time:

  • Features will be added to development master, to be released as Django 5.2.
  • Critical bug fixes will be applied to the stable/5.1.x branch, and released as 5.1.1, 5.1.2, etc.
  • Security fixes and bug fixes for data loss issues will be applied to master and to the stable/5.1.x, and stable/4.2.x (LTS) branches. They will trigger the release of 5.1.1, 4.2.1, etc.
  • Documentation fixes will be applied to master, and, if easily backported, to the latest stable branch, 5.1.x.

Release process

Django uses a time-based release schedule, with feature releases every eight months or so.

After each feature release, the release manager will announce a timeline for the next feature release.

Release cycle

Each release cycle consists of three parts:

Phase one: feature proposal

The first phase of the release process will include figuring out what major features to include in the next version. This should include a good deal of preliminary work on those features – working code trumps grand design.

Major features for an upcoming release will be added to the wiki roadmap page, e.g. https://code.djangoproject.com/wiki/Version1.9Roadmap.

Phase two: development

The second part of the release schedule is the “heads-down” working period. Using the roadmap produced at the end of phase one, we’ll all work very hard to get everything on it done.

At the end of phase two, any unfinished features will be postponed until the next release.

Phase two will culminate with an alpha release. At this point, the stable/A.B.x branch will be forked from master.

Phase three: bugfixes

The last part of a release cycle is spent fixing bugs – no new features will be accepted during this time. We’ll try to release a beta release one month after the alpha and a release candidate one month after the beta.

The release candidate marks the string freeze, and it happens at least two weeks before the final release. After this point, new translatable strings must not be added.

During this phase, committers will be more and more conservative with backports, to avoid introducing regressions. After the release candidate, only release blockers and documentation fixes should be backported.

In parallel to this phase, master can receive new features, to be released in the A.B+1 cycle.

Bug-fix releases

After a feature release (e.g. A.B), the previous release will go into bugfix mode.

The branch for the previous feature release (e.g. stable/A.B-1.x) will include bugfixes. Critical bugs fixed on master must also be fixed on the bugfix branch; this means that commits need to cleanly separate bug fixes from feature additions. The developer who commits a fix to master will be responsible for also applying the fix to the current bugfix branch.

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