Node.js support and release calendar

Node.js versions support and calendar

Node.js V7 vas released in Beta recently, we covered this in an article and got a fair amount of interest in it. As suc,h we decided to cover Node.js versions a bit more broadly, to include more details about how and when are they released. We’re also going to talk about the cycles of support they go through. The Node.js Foundations releases new versions of Node very often (compared to other languages), every six months there is a new major release of Node. They actually have a system of release for them. There are basically two versions a year, one in April (an even numbered version, V6, V8, V10 etc) and one in October (an odd numbered version, V5 V7, V9).

You can check out the current calendar in the above picture.

Here are a few things you should know the release system:

When a new odd numbered version is released (October) the previous version (April, even version) moves to the Active Long Term Support Plan.

The Active Long Term Support Plan (LTS) lasts 18 months and covers every major version of Node.js. The LTS plan covers:

  • Bug fixes;

  • Security updates;

  • Non-semver-major npm updates;

  • Relevant documentation updates;

  • Certain performance improvements where the risk of breaking existing applications is minimal;

  • Changes that introduce large amount of code churn where the risk of breaking existing applications is low and where the change in question may significantly ease the ability to backport future changes due to the reduction in diff noise. (according to the Node.js Foundation)

After the Active LTS period ends each version will have a 12 month maintenance period, after which it will not receive any type of support. The maintenance period includes:

  • only critical bugs,

  • critical security fixes

  • documentation updates

The release schedule was created in such a way that there won’t be more than two active LTS release at the same time. Basically each new version will be the current one for 6 months. When another version is released it becomes the current one and the previous one goes into LTS. After 6 more months the cycle is repeated.

If you don’t know which version to use the Node.js Foundation recommends to:

  • Stay on or upgrade to Node.js v4.2.x if you need stability and have a complex production environment, e.g. you are a medium or large enterprise.

  • Upgrade to Node.js v5.x if you have the ability to upgrade versions quickly and easily without distributing your environment and want to play with the latest features as they arrive.

This month, V7 will be the current version while Node.js V6 moved to its LTS period.