How the Release Cycle Works

Each WordPress release cycle is led by one (or more) of the core WordPress developers.

A release cycle usually lasts around 4 months from the initial scoping meeting to launch of the version.

The 5.3 release cycle ended November 12, 2019.

A release cycle follows the following pattern:

  • Phase 1: Planning and securing team leads. This is done in the #core channel. The release lead discusses features for the next release of WordPress. WordPress contributors get involved with that discussion. The release lead will identify focus leads for each of the features.
  • Phase 2: Development work begins. Focus leads assemble teams and work on their assigned features. Regular chats are scheduled to ensure the development keeps moving forward.
  • Phase 3: Beta. Betas are released and beta-testers are asked to start reporting bugs. No more commits for new enhancements or feature requests are allowed for the rest of the release.
  • Phase 4: Release Candidate. There is a string freeze from this point on. Work is targeted on regressions and blockers only.
  • Phase 5: Launch. WordPress version is launched and made available in the WordPress Admin for updates.

The launch is often followed soon after by a minor release (also known as a point release) as bugs are reported and squashed. A minor release is intended for bugfixes and enhancements that do not add new deployed files and are at the discretion of the release lead with suggestions/input from component maintainers and committers.

You can learn more about the current release cycle on the development blog.