[TYPO3-core] Release-Cycle and Maintenance-Policy of TYPO3

Mario Rimann mario.rimann at typo3.org
Fri May 11 10:27:53 CEST 2012

Hi *

This week I was in contact with Xavier Perseguers and Steffen Ritter
to clarify some detail-questions regarding the maintenance-policy as
described on typo3.org. Our mail-discussion started to involve others
like Oliver Hader, Ben van't Ende and Helmut Hummel and delived more
and more into a more general "we need to discuss the release-cycle and
maintenance-policy"-king of discussion. And we all agreed on pushing
this to the public. So here's the mail I've written to them explaining
the situation we encounter as an agency and why we see this as a problem:

For us (www.internezzo.ch) as a mid-sized TYPO3 agency with no
inhouse-core-dev, the current release policy (6-month cycle) is
sub-optimal since it cuts down the “lifetime” (as in “time covered
with at least security updates) of a TYPO3 website from about 3 years
to about 1.5 years (compared to the pre-6-month-release-cycle). I know
that back then, I raised this concern and (if I remember correctly)
talked to Michael Stucki at that time and I guess others did, too –
and shortly after that an LTS version was announced. This LTS version
was/is great as it improved the situation a bit.

But what we want to be able to offer to our customers is a
long-lasting solution where the time from “buying a website” until
“having to spend money on the website again for an upgrade” is as long
as possible.

Let me try to explain the situations we encountered:

When 4.5 LTS came out, we started using it and our customers profited
from a 3-year lifetime during which they won’t have to pay anything
additional for staying up-to-date (since Core-Patchlevel-Updates are
covered with the hosting-fee on our servers) – all was ok.

When 4.6 came out, we decided against using it since the pro’s did not
weight up against the con’s (the new features were cool for devs but
nothing that was awaited by our customers compared to loosing many
months of update-coverage compared to 4.5 LTS at that point in time).

Then 4.7 came out and we decided on using it for new projects since it
really brings new features that are of interest for our customers –
and the difference in lifetime (as seen from today) is just about 6
months compared to 4.5 LTS which is acceptable for our customers.

So just comparing 4.7 and 4.5 from $today until their
“end-of-life”-dates ends up in a small difference of 6 months – but
compared to the roll-out of a 4.5 LTS based website short after 4.5
LTS was shipped, a big difference shows up:
A customer that got a website with 4.5 LTS had up to 3-years of
maintenance “included”. One that get’s $today either a 4.5 LTS or a
4.7 will have only up to 1.5-years which is not really cool.

That’s the problem we see from a customer perspective -> until the
next LTS is released we have a product we can sell that has a very
short lifetime that some of our customers (and we ourselfes) don’t see
as enterprise-ready :-/

Besides only complaining, we see the following solutions to circumvent
this issue – and hope we can achieve something from that as a whole
TYPO3 universe:

- have a longer supported-time (only regarding security fixes!!) than
just approx. 1.5-years starting from the release-date of a minor
version (see below)

- have more LTS-versions – it’s not about how fast the next LTS is
released rather than increasing the overlapping lifetime of two LTS
releases (it would already help to know, when in the schedule the next
LTS will be released)

- decrease from a 6-month release-cycle back to something longer

We know that both having more LTS versions and in general increasing
the lifetime of any release will “cost” manpower. But from discussions
with several persons I know that just throwing money at it is no
solution itself (since the developers/testers are missing to actually
*do* the (probably paid) work).

To sum up, I hope you see how our perspective on the product “TYPO3”
in the (Swiss) market is. Maybe other (bigger) agencies with own
core-devs can handle certain things different – but as long as we
stick to our “we use official TYPO3 releases for our customer projects
without modifications to the core”-rule, we’ll have the above problem
I guess.

I don’t expect a wonder or that the core-team now changes the whole
release cycle 180° - but maybe you can take this input into your next
meeting(s) and the mid-term planning somehow where it hopefully has
some effects :-) If I can be of any help to further explain it or if
you’d like to talk to me on this topic (or something other) – just
contact me!

(and of course by posting this here to the public core-list I hope to
start a discussion on this topic. I'm really looking forward to
hearing how other agencies and/or one-man-shows perceive and handle
this situation)

Thanks for reading until here and best wishes,

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