What is it like to be a Joomla release manager? Why not become one and find out!
The point of this intro is to stop you from running scared. If you think this is way out of your reach, then think again. Seriously, we have had many release managers over the last few years, and several have NOT been coders. The job has changed for good reasons, and the outcome has been better: more stable releases with a growing support network of past managers who can help with the process.
Read on, and you may be pleasantly surprised.
In the past, there was the release lead. A single person was responsible for the release, and they each had their process, their scraps of paper or, if lucky, a spreadsheet with the main points on.
Mistakes were made, and deadlines grew. But it was an ad-hoc process with the dates never set in stone. If it happened when others needed were on holiday, then so be it.
And if there was an issue, then who to call? Past release leads, perhaps, the production Department Coordinator may not have the release experience under their belt.
Being a release lead was, in some ways, a lonely job and a lot of pressure. They were looked to, to organise the main features for a release but also to write them and include them in the release.
Roll back a moment; that's an awful lot of work and responsibility.
What happened to the "All together" part of Joomla?
My hat goes off to those who went through the process; it was a lot of pressure and, to be honest, unfair. It became life-consuming. It had to end.
The rise of the CMS Release team
We started to understand that something had to change. Release Lead was neither a one-person job nor should it be narrowed down to a small group of deciders.
Meanwhile, in the background was a team that tested the releases: the CMS release team. Their role was to find any show-stoppers from the releases and feedback. In theory and in my day, once in practice, there was a standoff between the release lead and the CMS release lead with the discussion about whether the release should indeed go ahead and changes that should be made.
Personally, I feel the pressure on the release leads was way too much, but it was also not good for the project. How can you be impartial and dispassionate if you have been working for months to get a release out, then those testing say we need changes?
During my successor's time (Sigrid Gramlinger), the CMS release team took a much more systematic view and produced a sheet to document all the tests, working through the process.
Then, when Joomla 4.1 was in production, Harald Leithner, the 3.9 release lead, Sigrid Gramlinger, and the then-release lead, Benjamin Trenkle, did a lot of work reforming the process and language surrounding the release lead.
They worked with the marketing team on making the releases of Joomla not only timed and regular but also public knowledge, always keeping in mind that releases have to be the product of many Joomlers working together, not single entities.
Until the release of 4.0, the exact date of any release was a secret held in the production department. That had to change!
Since 4.1, we have been able to share the exact date years in advance of the next major and minor releases with everyone. This routine changes only if a security release pops up, but the other releases are kept so that the dates can be worked towards.
There have been refinements. We listened to the comments about an August / February Major and changed it to October / April in line with such distributions as Ubuntu. We removed a Beta and added another Alpha.
The truth is also that not every release went the way we hoped. It was again always a decision of single persons, what should happen now that a problem with the release has been identified. A decision that has to be made in the heat of the moment and by one individual who is often damned if they do and damned if they don't.
To help when things go wrong, a system to determine the outcome of any release issue was developed. It looked back at past releases that had to be pulled as well as those that were pulled, and later, the decision was judged to be wrong and produced an outcomes table. We now call this by its catchy name, the "Post Release Process." It does what it says on the tin!
This has taken away much of the guesswork that goes into such split-moment decisions and really brought a more professional feel to the whole process.
There is now also a team review after each release to check how it is going and ensure the people are on hand should an issue happen.
Release Leads slowly migrated from being a one-person-show to a manager, managing the release by including and connecting Joomlers from all over the community.
One Becomes Two
Joomla 4.1 was the last release to have a release lead.
In order to avoid the issues outlined above, it was decided that release leads would become release managers and be paired up to share the workload.
Having a colleague to help with the work, share the demands, and bounce ideas off just makes it more fun. It means if a minor release happens to be coming out on your birthday, you can still go to the ball that evening, and your colleague can help with any issues.
But it's much more of a team effort with the pre-release meeting involving the Marketing lead, CMS release lead, the social media team, the release managers and some of the past release managers if help or consultation is needed.
And the makeup of the release managers is different; it's not all geek now. The team consists of someone with the skill set to deploy the releases but also paired with someone good at managing, who has those cat-herding skills that are needed to get the features built and included in the release.
This is much more a managerial role, and so it should be. The release managers should not be writing and testing all the features. They may champion a particular feature for their release but it really should be a team effort to take the pressure off the managers and share it with the wider community.
That is where you come in
You see, Joomla changed a lot in the last few years: sharing the workload on many shoulders, adding structure and implementing a culture of support and team spirit. And here you come into the picture.
We’re still looking for new faces to become a release manager. Team up with your buddy, helping make Joomla better and better. The structure is here, you just have to join.
In Addition to the points mentioned above, we’re planning to have regular Pizza, Bugs & Fun events, thanks to our sponsor IONOS, which will also help make the release managers’ lifes easier. It allows us to have regular documentation, patch testing and code-writing sessions to get the upcoming releases stable and finished in time.
Still not sure? You could look out for and join one of those sessions and perhaps help with the events. Or you start looking into other areas of Joomla. We desperately need documentation writers; we also need people to help with the graphics, newsletters, social media and testing. The CMS release team is always crying out for more testers.
The team leads can help fit you into the areas that you are best suited to but they can also help you to get your teeth into the process and show you what it is all about. It's a great way to learn, share and build friendships.
The release leads term starts 8-9 months before the dates shown as that is the build process and the largest part of the work. After that it's the regular 6 weekly bug fixes and the occasional security release that happens as and when needed.
Joomla 3.10 and Joomla 4 were both released in August 2021
- Tobias Zulauf- the release lead for the 3.10 series and kept it going for 2 years until August 2023 17/08/2021 - 17/08/2023
- George Wilson - the release lead of Joomla 4 who put many, many years of work into the project to get it finally out of the door on 17 August 2023 and continued support during its 6-month life 17/08/2021 - 15/02/2022
- Benjamin Trenkle - the last release lead. 16th February 2022 He transformed the role along with Sigrid Gramlinger working as CMS release team lead into a more structured and timed release 15/02/2022 - 16/08/2022
- Franciska Eichert
- Roland Dalmulder
The first one with two release managers, both helping to organise the release and get it out on time. Both had a coding background and both did a great job. 16/08/2022 - 18/04/2023
- Shirielle Williams
- Olivier Buisard
The first release managers team having one with a coding background and one who’s more a manager.
It has worked really well with the releases coming out smoothly and, as with the others, on time. 18/04/2023 - 17/10/2023
Joomla 4.4 and Joomla 5.0 will both be released in October 2023
- Allon Moritz
- Martin Kopp
They have been working together since the release of Joomla 4.3 to get Joomla 4.4 ready for release alongside Joomla 5.0 and then to maintain it over that time. It is a different beast as it has no features but needs to align with Joomla 5.0 17/10/2023 - 21/10/2025
- Harald Leithner
- Benjamin Trenkle
Originally listed as Harald Leithner and Niels Braczek, Niels had to stop work on the project due to health issues, and we wish him well with his recovery.
Joomla 5.0 is the first Major release that is designed with as few BC as possible and is hoped to be less of a migration than any in the past.
This has been achieved with a backward compatibility plugin.
We will learn a lot from this release, and it could well inform us of the way forward for future major releases 17/10/2023 - 16/04/2024
From this point on we have volunteers who have stepped up to help and will need to be voted in by the teams, but all are excellent candidates.
- Luca Rachetti
- Martina Scholz
16/04/2024 - 15/10/2024
- Peter Martin
- Marc Dechevre
15/10/2024 - 15/04/2025
- Tom van der Laan
15/04/2025 - 21/10/2025
Joomla 5.4 and Joomla 6.0 will both be released in October 2025
21/10/2025 - 19/10/2027
- Allon Moritz
21/10/2025 - 21/04/2026
As you can see, there are already many who have added their name to the list and expressed an interest in being a release manager, and from the list I feel a sense of happiness and reassurance that people who clearly love the project are willing to help so far into the future.
It gives Joomla incredible strength as there is a growing group at its heart with all the skills to do the release manager role and an ever-growing team of knowledge.
And there is that feedback loop, into the process from these individuals all bringing their life experiences and skills to the job and improving it.
Are you someone who would like to join that team and help contribute so much to the Joomla family? If you cannot contribute that amount of time and energy, are you at least willing to aid those who are and make their life that bit easier by formally joining a team and contributing what you can where you can?
Joomla, in my opinion, has never been in a better, more organised and well-structured place; I am excited to use it and promote it as the ideal CMS to use, knowing the passion at its heart driving it forward.