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Software Releases: A Comprehensive Guide for Beginners

Software Releases: A Beginner's Guide unveils the essentials of software deployment, from planning to execution. Dive in and launch with confidence!
Software Releases: A Comprehensive Guide for Beginners
Photo by Ankush Minda / Unsplash


As a developer, we may have encountered terms like "major release," "patch release," and "LTS" and wondered about their significance in the software development landscape. 

These release terms are confusing, especially knowing their differences. 

In this guide, we'll explore the various types of software releases, shedding light on their purposes and helping you navigate the dynamic world of versioning.

What is a Major Release?

Major releases represent significant milestones in a software project. 

The introduction of new features, enhancements, and innovations characterizes them. 

When you see a jump in the first digit of a version number (e.g., from version 2.0 to version 3.0), you can bet it's a significant release.

These releases are exciting as they bring fresh capabilities to the table, often pushing the boundaries of what the software can achieve.

However, there's a catch – major releases may come with breaking changes, which means this existing code might need adjustments to accommodate the new features seamlessly.

Major releases allow beginners to explore the latest and most outstanding features a software framework or library offers.

However, exercise caution when upgrading, and be prepared for potential code modifications to align with the changes.

What is a Minor Releases?

Minor releases are the unsung heroes of versioning. 

They introduce improvements and additional features without causing significant disruptions and release increments in the second digit of the version number (e.g., from version 2.1 to version 2.2).

Unlike major releases, minor releases aim to build upon the existing foundation rather than overhaul it. 

As a beginner, you can comfortably explore and adopt these releases to benefit from enhanced functionality and a more polished user experience. 

The minimal risk of breaking changes makes minor releases a stable ground for experimentation and learning.

What is a Patch Release?

When it comes to stability, patch releases take the lead. 

These releases focus on addressing bugs, security vulnerabilities, and other issues present in the software. 

Patch releases increments in the third digit of the version number (e.g., from version 2.0.1 to version 2.0.2).

For beginners, patch releases are crucial for maintaining a stable development environment. 

They provide quick fixes to problems identified after a major or minor release.

Keeping your software up-to-date with the latest patch releases ensures a smoother and more secure coding experience.

What is an LTS Release?

Long-Term Support (LTS) releases are the backbone of software development, offering stability and extended support.

An LTS release guarantees updates, bug fixes, and security patches for an extended period, often spanning several years.

It's the version you turn to when you need a rock-solid application foundation.

For beginners building projects intended for long-term use, LTS releases are safe.

They provide a stable environment, allowing you to focus on coding without constantly adapting to changes.

LTS releases are well-suited for production environments where reliability is paramount.

What is a Non-LTS Release?

Non-LTS releases, or feature releases, are where the action happens.

These releases are all about innovation, introducing cutting-edge features and improvements.

However, they come with a shorter support lifecycle than their LTS counterparts.

If you're eager to explore the latest and most remarkable technologies, non-LTS releases are your playground.

Developers and organizations seeking to stay at the forefront of technology often embrace these releases for early access to innovative features.

Just be prepared to adapt to changes as you ride the wave of rapid development.

Release Candidates (RC): The Last Check Before Liftoff

Before a major release takes flight, it undergoes a release candidate phase. 

Release candidate: it is a dress rehearsal before the main event, which gives developers the time to identify remaining issues. 

For beginners, keeping an eye on release candidates provides insights into the upcoming features and changes. 

It's an excellent opportunity to test your code against the latest updates and contribute to improving the software.

What is a Beta Release?

Beta releases mark a pre-release phase where the software is made available to a broader audience for testing. 

Betas may contain known issues, and developers actively seek user feedback to iron out any remaining wrinkles before the official release.

As a beginner, participating in beta testing gives you a sneak peek into what's coming next. 

It's a chance to explore new features, provide feedback, and contribute to the refinement of the software.

Alpha Releases: Early Exploration for the Brave

Alpha releases represent the earliest versions of a software project with a limited audience for initial testing and feedback. 

Alpha releases may contain experimental features, and stability is not guaranteed.

Even though not suitable for alpha releases for production use, it allows adventurous beginners to explore bleeding-edge technologies. 

Organizations must know that these releases are works in progress, and you might encounter surprises.

Tips for Beginners

As a beginner, navigating the diverse world of software releases can be exciting and challenging. 

Here are some tips to help you make the most of each release type:

Stay Informed

  • Check for the software frameworks and libraries' official documentation or release notes.
  • Follow community forums, blogs, and social media channels for announcements and discussions about upcoming releases.

Understand Your Project's Needs

  • Choose the release type that aligns with your project's goals.
  • For stable and long-term projects, opt for LTS releases; for experimentation and early adoption of features, explore non-LTS releases.

Experiment in a Controlled Environment

  • Set up a test environment to experiment with new releases without affecting your production code.
  • Version control is a standard way to manage different versions of your codebase.
  • Organizations can use Git or any equivalent.

Contribute to Testing

  • Participate in beta testing and release candidate programs to contribute feedback and improve the software.
  • Report bugs and provide constructive feedback to help developers address issues before the official release.

Plan for Upgrades

  • When upgrading to a new major release, carefully review release notes to understand potential breaking changes.
  • Test your code in lower environments before deploying major updates to production.

Utilize LTS for Critical Projects

  • For projects requiring stability and long-term support, consider using LTS releases to minimize the need for frequent updates and code changes.


Understanding the concepts of software releases is essential for any software developers embarking on their coding journey. 

Whether you are only interested in the stability of LTS releases or the thrill of non-LTS feature releases, each type plays a crucial role in the dynamic world of software.

I hope you have enjoyed this article. Till next time, happy programming and happy cloud computing!

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