The first Wednesday of the month is an important day for the CiviCRM community. It’s the day where a new, scheduled monthly release drops. These normally include bug fixes, minor features changes and improvements. Nothing earth shattering (hopefully). Upgrades are typically routine and easy. For many, this is a fairly painless process to manage, especially as the ease of upgrade and release reliability have improved over the years.
For others, the pace of upgrades may be too fast. Or perhaps they have customizations that might break, and the stress of upgrading keeps them up at night. Whatever the reason, it’s always possible to maintain an older version of CiviCRM. But that also requires technical skill and time. As a solution, the community supported an LTS version (long term support) for many years. The last LTS is 4.6 and, well, it’s slowly going away. So, now what do we do for organizations that don’t want to upgrade every month?
Starting with version 5.7 (released on Nov 7th), the CiviCRM Core Team will maintain an additional version of it called Extended Security Release (ESR) that will not advance along with the monthly release cycle, but will instead receive only security patches and critical bug fixes. This means that for those that don’t want to upgrade monthly and that prefer consistency over new features, ESR presents an option for them. For those that want to continue with latest version, the regularly scheduled monthly release works same as always (5.8 will be released on December 5th, mark your calendars!).
Think of CiviCRM ESR as a snapshot of CiviCRM 5.7 that periodically (as needed) receives critical updates, but no new features. Subsequent monthly releases still happen… 5.8, followed by 5.9, and so forth. CiviCRM ESR exists as an older version that offers more consistency over time, but fewer new features. It in no way replaces the latest stable version released monthly.
We anticipate some questions, so here are a few common ones we’ll address right away:
Do I have to use ESR? Nope. If you’re comfortable with the monthly updates, or if you’re just starting out with CiviCRM, use the latest monthly release.
How long is ESR supported for? 5.7 is guaranteed to be supported for 6 months. We hope that we can support it for 12 months.
What happens if we don't raise the funds needed to support ESR? It goes away. That simple.
Does it include additional support? No. Support for CiviCRM is the same whether using ESR or or the latest stable monthly release. It’s freely provided by the community or available via a network of expert partners.
Is there more information available? Yes. Visit https://civicrm.org/esr for more details. We’re continuing to update this information as well.
CiviCRM Extended Security Release is officially starting with version 5.7 and will include only security updates and critical bug fixes for 6 months, guaranteed, or longer if we can raise enough support for it. The normal monthly releases continue on.