Wednesday, September 21, 2011

The Case for Patch Releases

A new patch release of Apache Camel, version 2.8.1 was released last week. I didn't announce releases in a while. Why write about camel-2.8.1 then?

The reason is that the Apache Camel community didn't produce patch releases in the past (we only did it for the 1.6.x version before discontinuing support for the 1.x versions). We actually started producing patch releases back in April for camel-2.7.x. At the time, I wasn't sure if and how this will continue because you need enough support within the community and some had the view that at Apache we should only focus on innovation.

The untold truth about that though has to do with the business models of open source. ZDNet had an excellent article a while ago, which makes for interesting reading. The author left out another business model, let's name it FUD ware, that relies on bundling known, successful open source projects and claim that only your distribution is production ready and offers what the market needs. That works better if you have some influence over the community that produces the original open source project. It is not enough, that's for sure, but combined with other business models (such as 1. Support Ware or 4. Project Ware) it may make the needed difference.

A few of us however, want the original ASF distribution to be stable, secure and production ready. After a bit of a struggle I am happy we managed to get the Apache Camel community used to the idea of producing patch releases more frequently. Between Dan Kulp and myself we issued since mid April three patch releases on camel-2.7.x, camel-2.8.1 last week and camel-2.8.2 is only a few weeks away.

This way you, our users, won't have to wait at least a quarter to have your issues resolved. At the end of the day, you the users, are the Apache Camel community.


  1. It probably doesn't matter that you and Dan Kulp also work for a company that offers a commercially supported or that your company is actively and aggressively competing against the company that currently holds most of the mind share in the community.

  2. I hope that Apache Camel is able to continue producing patch releases - here at Apache Karaf we delight in keeping a steady pace of patches coming out :)

    As to innovation pace, producing patches does slow down the rate of dot zero releases, but I think that is off set by fostering confidence in users that each Karaf release will have a certain level of support going forward.