In the past few years, Joomla has shifted from an ad hoc to a time-based release schedule with a new version were released every 6 months.
The first two release are called Standard Term Support (STS) releases and are supported for 6 months.
Every third release in this cycle is called a Long Term Support (LTS) release. An LTS release is intended to be very stable and is supported until the next LTS is released.
This gives each major Joomla version a lifetime of approximately 18 months. For most users, a Joomla upgrade is recommend only from one LTS to another LTS.
While this is a great improvement over the earlier ad hoc release "schedule", there are 2 main issues with this approach:
- Many site builders have expressed frustration that 18 months was too short a window to realistically expect sites to be updated, especially for client work.
- The Production Leadership Team or PLT who are responsible for creating and maintaining Joomla releases have noted that under the the current system, the LTS release has too many modifications.
Changes to the Joomla upgrade cycle
At the 2012 Joomla World Conference, the PLT met and addressed these issues by proposing an additional STS release to the Joomla upgrade cycle. The new release schedule would then consist of three STS releases followed by a LTS release.
Since the PLT did not propose a change to the time between releases, this increases the lifetime of the LTS to 24 months.
In addition, the PLT plans to use the extra release to add any final features or other changes needed to maintain a smoother transition to future releases.
In other words, the LTS should only receive urgent bug and security fixes. The hope is that this will improve LTS stability.
Based on this proposal, we’ve put together a small infrographic (above; download high resolution version here) to estimate the approximate release schedule for Joomla 3 and Joomla 4. We’ll update this as more information becomes available.
UPDATE, 24-Dec-2012: As an early Christmas gift, the Production Leadership team ratified the addition of an extra STS release, effectively extending the release cycle to two years as shown in the infographic above.
With increased support and improved stability, site builders and anyone maintaining a Joomla web site should be thrilled since a Joomla upgrade would be required less often.