Why I Chose a Monthly Release Schedule

If you looked at First Crack’s internal commit history, you would see that most features take at most a few days to write. Even the entirety of First Crack’s rewrite happened over the course of a couple weeks, in the mornings before work and on the weekends. I have stuck with monthly releases since June of last year, though, and today I want to explain why.

As I said last year, I started posting monthly release notes, instead of using a traditional versioning system, because the latter implied a cycle of feature integration-feedback-improvement for which I had neither the user base nor the inclination. I also did not want to take such a formal approach to a hobby I work in in my spare time. Still wanting to talk about new features, though, in June I began the series laid out in the list below.

Had I decided on a shorter release schedule — even one as small as a week, for example — most major features would have still fit within a single development window. I went with an entire month instead, though, for three reasons:

  1. Regularity. I can almost always get something done over the course of a month, but I felt less confident about committing to getting something done every week. Things happen; a compressed timeline would have given me less flexibility to account for them.
  2. Overhead. It takes a non-insignificant amount of work to write the release notes; batching these jobs allows me to minimize overhead.
  3. Accountability. Declaring that I would do some work on First Crack each month, and that I would then share it with the world, keeps the project moving forward. Although a benefit to any release schedule, month-long development windows make it tough for me to excuse a lack of progress. As I said, things happen — but they seldom happen for an entire month.

This strategy has worked well for me. Almost a year later, First Crack has gone from a personal hobby to a polished blog engine. As I have continued to grow as a developer, so, too, has this project. I hope you will check it out, or just stick around for next month’s release.