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New release cycles

For many years onCourse has seen two or three major releases per year. Starting in March of 2015 we have moved to a new release cycle. Agile development processes focus on very short bursts of work (sprints), then testing and release. The idea is to break down complicated new features into smaller manageable chunks; instead of spending months planning some great new feature to take over the world, you spend a week or two trying out the simplest form of an idea and throwing it away if it doesn't work.

The goal is to get it into users hands quickly and get feedback early on. Bond villains always have these fiendishly complicated plans that are undone by one bad design choice. If only they had tested it in stages and taken over a small island before taking on the whole United Kingdom.

So onCourse has begun world domination in two week sprints. We are building, testing and deploying a new version of onCourse to our own team every two weeks. Any plans bigger than two weeks are too complicated and need simplifying so we can understand, build and test each stage.

This doesn't mean you'll get a new version of onCourse every two weeks. Although our development and product design team will work as though every release is ready for customers, we'll only upgrade our customer installations when we have something to impress you with. So cloud hosted onCourse customers will get an upgrade probably every 4-6 weeks. As always there will be a notification with release notes and you'll be able to postpone or skip an upgrade. Our cloud hosted customers are already on 7.2 and will get 7.4 in a week or so.

Our self-hosted onCourse customers will get releases less often. Because of the additional testing of all the different environments in which self-hosted customers operate, we'll be making big releases roughly twice a year. Our next major release will be 8.0 in the third quarter of 2015 and 9.0 in early 2016.

All of this is a sign of the maturity of onCourse. As it approaches its 10th birthday, development is faster than it ever has been. But we have a lot more code to think about with every change, making sure we don't break old features or surprise long-standing users with UI changes. We are not even close to running out of improvements to make!
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