When will Drupal 8 be released?
When will Drupal 8 be out? It's a question that's asked in many forms.
Sometimes it's phrased as: when will I have to upgrade from Drupal 6? Or, how long will Drupal 7 be supported?
Laura Scott and I were reviewing Dries Buytaert's 2010 State of Drupal and the estimates on when the new Drupal release candidate would be virtually frozen. The graph below is his summary graph of the trends in April 2010.
It turned out that the trends were not linear, and it was Laura who suggested that bug fixes aren't linear: they tend to be hyperbolic or (for fellow math majors) follow "power functions" that have a logarithmic aspect to them.
This got us thinking. What is the history of time between Drupal releases (TBDR)? In the slide below, Dries provided some this data in his slide from the State of Drupal at the March 2011 Drupalcon Chicago.
All that was missing were the dates, which Laura looked up from the Changelogs of each Drupal n.0 release, and from this I created the graph below, which is consistent with a power function. That is, geometric!
What this means is that the more the code, the longer it takes, and in this case (at least thus far) it is obeying a consistent pattern. Interestingly, in the period from of Drupal 4.0.0 to Drupal 4.6.0, the size of Drupal was pretty constant, especially as compared to the recent growth of Drupal core ... and the TBDR was about 6 months! What do today's longer release cycles mean for Drupal? I say this only because we are hearing that Joomla has a 6 month time horizon between releases.
If Developers were Horses...
What would it look like to have 90 developers contributing, only contributing really, really fast? Is there a marginal utility curve, like we learned in Econ 200, in there someplace? That is, at what point do you have so many people involved, that they are tripping over one another? Throwing more people at the problem does not get quicker results, and may in fact, slow things down. cf. The Mythical Man Month.
The Mythical Man Month premise is: Assigning more programmers to a project running behind schedule will make it even later.
So a question to ponder is to what extent can the growth curve in the above slide be changed?
The final slide from Dries that I think is relevant to this pattern appears below.
Most of us have heard of the "80/20 Rule." The rule is attributed to the findings of Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto. Sometimes its the 90/10 Rule or 95/5 Rule, or even 920/30 rule (see Figure 4)!
The challenge may be in making the ski-jump curved line more linear (while pinning the line on the y-axis). The more linear it becomes, the steeper the TBDR curve's slope becomes — meaning that releases can be more rapid.
In short, holding the intersection point on the left axis, as the graph becomes more linear, the faster the TBDR. The challenge we face as individuals within the community is helping in making that happen.