We’ve been open source since late 2008. In that time we’ve had 40 version releases, 6 major ones, and we’ve always maintained backward compatibility. You can take a 5.0 website and hit “Update” all the way through 220.127.116.11. It’s always been important to us to keep everyone moving forward together.
For the first time in 6 years, we’ve decided to not put backward compatibility first and foremost. We really wanted to have a clean slate, so we could embrace ideas that involved deep changes to the system. The ecosystem of 3rd party tools and PHP itself has changed quite a bit in the last half a decade, and we don’t want to be stuck in the past. There’s so much good new stuff in concrete5.7 that we’ve been able to include because we simply decided folks would have to migrate by hand instead of upgrading with a single click. We know that when you start playing with 5.7 you’ll see why we made this hard choice, but we want you to also know we’re not going to abandon upgrades again lightly. Wordpress NEVER does this, Drupal ALWAYS does this - we’re right in the middle: once every half a decade or so seems reasonable.
This does throw our typical release approach somewhat on its head, however. We’ve made a commitment to continue supporting 5.6.x for security and critical bugs for at least a year. We’re going to make some changes to our marketplace here to support 5.7 add-ons/themes as well as 5.6 ones too. In the past we’ve often talked about upgrading websites feeling like working on car’s engine, while driving down the highway at 75/mph. In this case, we’re assembling a whole new car next to the one we’re in, driving both, and still at 75/mph.
So what’s 5.7.0 for and how stable is it? Here’s some absolute truths you can share with your bosses and clients:
The way themes, page types and composer are working now is not going to dramatically change in subsequent version. Add-on and theme developers should be making new versions of their work and thinking of new work that jives with the changes in approach we’ve come up with. There’s some deep awesome changes here that you should be wrapping your mind around.
5.7.0 is not as fast as 5.7.1 will be. We have a long history of building big new stuff in a .0 release and then optimizing in a .1 release. Expect more attention to performance in the next version.
There is no marketplace integration and this is not going out to the 3rd party installers until there is. Since no themes and add-ons are 5.7 ready yet, we were able to turn off the marketplace integration without much concern. We’re circling back around to make that work with a nice new sexy feed in 5.7.1. Because there’s no 3rd party stuff for this, and because of the next point, we don’t feel this is what the DIY web builder crowd should be using when they install concrete5 on bluehost & gang - yet.
The docs are still being cooked. We’re a good ways through user docs, we’re revisiting the way the API docs are made, and we’re writing some implementation docs for developers now. If you’ve got any time to help, we’d love that. Additionally, there will be more attention put into the helpful blue box triggers that slide out in the next version. Those will link to user docs and videos that are being created.
If we were starting a new project for a client where we were expecting to build a site from scratch today, we would use 5.7.0. It’s production ready, and a follow up release for marketplace integration, bug fixes, and performance optimization is scheduled for September 30th. We need you to start beating on 5.7.0 now so 5.7.1 is ready for the general public.
That being said, here’s a whole lot of detail on what’s under the hood.
This is glossing over so many small improvements to the system, and really giving short shrift to many of the large, fundamental changes. We’re so excited about version 7 and we can’t wait for you to use it. Thanks to all community members who have tested this release, and especially those in Github who have committed code to this release and help it get out the door. This includes (but is definitely not limited to) mlocati, remo, EC-Joe, EC-Chris, jobbrown, olliephillips, Mnkras, hissy, katzueno, mkly, jprostko, and many more.