MS RFC 34: MapServer Release Manager and Release Process

Author:Daniel Morissette
Contact:dmorissette at
Last Edited:2007/07/19
Status:Adopted (2007/07/19)


This RFC documents the MapServer Release Manager role and the phases of MapServer’s Release Process.

The MapServer Release Manager Role

For every release of MapServer, the PSC elects a release manager (this is usually done with a motion and vote on the mapserver-dev list).

The overall role of the release manager is to coordinate the efforts of the developers, testers, documentation and other contributors to lead to a release of the best possible quality within the scheduled timeframe.

The PSC delegates to the release manager the responsibility and authority to make certain final decisions for a release, including:

  • Approving or not the release of each beta, release candidate and final release
  • Approving or rejecting non-trivial bug fixes or changes after the feature freeze
  • Maintaining the release schedule (timeline) and making changes as required

When in doubt or for tough decisions (e.g. pushing the release date by several weeks) the release manager is free to ask the PSC to vote in support of some decisions, but this is not a requirement for the areas of responsibility above.

The release manager’s role also includes the following tasks:

  • Setup and maintain the Release Plan section of the website for this release
  • Coordinate with the developers team
  • Coordinate with the QA/testers team
  • Coordinate with the docs/website team
  • Keep track of progress via Trac (make use of Trac milestones and ensure tickets are properly targeted, push some tickets to a later release if required, etc.)
  • Organize regular IRC meetings (including agenda and minutes)
  • Tag source code in SVN for each beta, RC and release
  • Branch source code in SVN after the final release (trunk becomes the next dev version)
  • Update map.h and HISTORY.TXT for each beta/RC/release
  • Package source code distribution for each beta/RC/release
  • Update appropriate website/download page for each beta/RC/release
  • Make announcements on mapserver-users and mapserver-announce for each release
  • Produce/coordinate bugfix releases as needed during the 6 months period that follows the final release (i.e. until the next release)

Any of the above tasks can be delegated but they still remain the ultimate responsibility of the release manager.

The MapServer Release Process

(Credit: Inspired by the Plone release process at

MapServer uses a time-based release cycle, trying to aim for one release every 6 months.

The normal development process of a MapServer release consists of various phases.

  • Development phase

    The development phase usually lasts around 4 months. New features are proposed via RFCs voted by the MapServer PSC.

  • RFC freeze date

    For each release there is a certain date by which all new feature proposals (RFCs) must have been submitted for review. After this date no features will be accepted anymore for this particular release.

  • Feature freeze date / Beta releases

    By this date all features must have been completed and all code has to be integrated. Only non-invasive changes, user interface work and bug fixes are done now. We usually plan for 3-4 betas and a couple of release candidates over a 6 weeks period before the final release.

  • Release Candidate

    Ideally, the last beta that was bug free. No changes to the code. Should not require any migration steps apart from the ones required in the betas. If any problems are found and fixed, a new release candidate is issued.

  • Final release / Expected release date

    Normally the last release candidate that was issued without any show-stopper bugs.

  • Bug fix releases

    No software is perfect. Once a sufficient large or critical number of bugs have been found for a certain release, the release manager releases a new bug fix release a.k.a. third-dot release (for example 4.10.2).

MapServer Version Numbering

MapServer’s version numbering scheme is very similar to Linux’s. For example, a MapServer version number of 4.2.5 can be decoded as such:

  • 4: Major version number.

    We release a major version every two to three years. The major version number usually changes when significant new features are added or when major architectural changes or backwards incompatibilities are introduced.

  • 2: Minor version number.

    Increments in minor version number almost always relate to additions in functionality and correspond to the 6 months release process described in this RFC.

    MapServer uses the same even/odd minor version number scheme as Linux. Even minor version numbers (0..2..4..6) relate to release versions, and odd minor versions (1..3..5..7) correspond to developmental versions. For instance development version 4.1 was released as version 4.2.0, there was never any formal release of 4.1.

  • 5: Revision number.

    Revisions are bug fixes only. No new functionality is provided in revisions.

Voting history

Vote completed on 2007/07/19.

+1 from DanielM, SteveL, SteveW, FrankW, TamasS, AssefaY, JeffM, PericlesN, UmbertoN and HowardB.