Red Hat
Sep 9, 2008
by sharps

Today we’re announcing the first Feature Pack (FP) for JBoss EAP (Enterprise App. Platform) - EAP 4.3 CP02 FP01. The Feature Pack concept is pretty new to JBoss so I thought it would be worth a quick post to describe what a feature pack is. While I’m at it - I’ll quickly describe some of the other relase artifacts we use. The context here is the Enterprise Platforms (and Frameworks) - not the upstream projects (such as Hibernate.org and JBoss.org).

We have Major (eg. EAP 5.0) and Minor releases (eg. EAP 4.3) - these releases give us the opportunity to both add new features and deprecate or ultimately remove features. While we’ll always endeavour to keep surprises and disruption to a minimum - Major and Minor releases will introduce new features and changes. We typically try to preserve compatibility in minor releases and only introduce non-disruptive new features; major releases are likely to be more disruptive and we may also remove (previously deprecated) features too.

To address bugs found between major and minor releases we release Cumulative Patches (CPs) typically on a quarterly basis. CPs generally do not include new features - the key requirement is to preserve stability of the current product. Occasionally (as part of a fix) we’ll relax the no new feature rule but we’ll only do it for a minor feature that doesn’t change the default behaviour - so it won’t impact customers who don’t require the change.

What we’ve found is that while customers appreciate the stability and regularity of our releases - they’d like to have access to new features faster. So we have a couple of release mechanisms that allow us to better balance innovation and stability.

The first is an existing mechanism called a Technology Preview (TP). In any release (Major, Minor or a Feature Pack) we may mark certain features / APIs as Technology Preview - what this means is that the feature is provided as a tested and integrated part of the platform but isn’t recommended for full production use. As a convenience - we provide broad access so that customers can experiment and provide feedback while the feature may be incomplete or lacking the stability you’d expect for production use. What you can expect is that we’ll include the Technology Preview as a complete, stable and fully supported feature in a future release. Technology Previews are supported but only under developer support SLAs.

More recently, we’ve recently introduced the concept of a Feature Pack (FP). A Feature Pack will contain one or more new features / APIs or significant upgrades to existing features / APIs. The level of change is more in line with what we’d release in a major or minor release. Feature Packs are optional - if you don’t need the feature (yet) you can safely ignore it. Future major or minor releases and patches won’t assume or require the presence of a Feature Pack. The contents of a Feature Pack are typically intended for full production use - and we provide full production support (unless they’re tagged as Technology Previews). The contents of a Feature Pack will be rolled into the next release.