Community Process

This document describes the process that the GeoServer community uses to handle contributions and additions to the project. This process is used to manage new features and additions to the project, as well as for short and long term project planning.

The GeoServer community process adheres to the following guidelines to ensure that it retains open development practices:

  • Transparency Project decisions are made in an open and transparent way. Key decisions are presented in GeoServer Improvement Proposals (GSIP), discussed in public. When a decision is made it is clear as to why it was made.

  • Open Proposals are presented on the GeoServer wiki - and anyone can write a proposal (no commit access required).

  • Balance Every member of the community is welcome to participate. Project decisions are discussed in public by the community as a whole. Decisions are made by a project steering committee and not subject to the whims of any single developer or organizations.

  • Responsibility The Project Steering Committee is responsible for the strategic direction of the GeoServer project. Central to this responsibility is evaluating proposals and providing a clear decision through a public voting process.

Adding features

During the development cycle community members propose new features and improvements to be included in the next release. The following are the prerequisites for proposing a new feature:

  1. The feature has a sponsor. This means either a developer willing to carry out the work or a customer who is paying for it.

  2. The feature has gone through the GSIP process if necessary. Whether a feature requires a GSIP is decided by the community when the feature is proposed.

The determining factor for what release a feature should be included in is based on the estimate of the time to implement the feature, and the current Release cycle.

New features may be backported to the stable series (if technically feasible) after being tried out on the main development branch for a month.

Adding fixes

During the release cycle community members contribute fixes to be included, and backported, to be included in subsequent releases.

  1. Each fix requires an issue tracker entry, to be included in the release notes

  2. Each fix must be applied to the main development branch, and then backported.

  3. While a release may be held for a “blocking” issue this is determined by discussion on the developer email list.

Please respect our release volunteers. We stop back porting fixes the day before release so CITE tests can verify the release includes all the changes needed.

Upgrading dependencies

During both the development and release cycle, dependencies may be upgraded, either as part of a new feature or fix, or as a standalone change during general maintenance.

When backporting changes that include dependency upgrades, keep in mind the guidelings for backporting fixes and features, as they apply to the dependency that changed:

  1. Upgrades for bug fixes or security issues can be backported immediately like any other fix.

  2. Upgrades for new features that do not require an API change (either in the upgraded library or in GeoServer) can be backported after one month. Additive-only API changes may also be backported where technically feasible.

  3. In some cases, upgrading a dependency to fix a bug may also bring with it API changes in the dependency. Consider whether a backport is really necessary in such cases. Security fixes may need to force an api change.

Release cycle

GeoServer follows a time-boxed release model, this allows new features to be developed for the project with a set expectation of when a feature will be available for use.

The community maintains three active branches:

  • main development branch (main): available for development of new functionality, documentation improvements and bug fixes

  • stable: bug fixes and backport of new functionality that do not affect the GeoServer API or significantly affect stability.

  • maintenance: bug fixes

For each GeoServer release, we spend six month “prerelease” in a development cycle on the main development branch, followed by six months as the stable release, followed by six months as the maintenance release.


The former beta release has been replaced with an earlier release candidate. There is no longer a “feature freeze” on the main development branch after this release. Instead, the new branch is created at this time, freeing up the main development branch for new features.


  • Month -6: main development branch open for development

  • Month -1: month: release candidate is made on new branch

  • Month 1: (start of month): second release candidate is made, if there are sufficient changes to warrant it.


  • Month 1: initial stable release (aim for one month after the first release candidate)

  • Month 3: stable release

  • Month 5: stable release

  • Month 7: maintenance release

  • Month 9: maintenance release

  • Month 11: maintenance release

We alternate between releasing the stable and maintenance branches. A release goes out each month forming a yearly release cycle.


GeoServer 2.8 Release Cycle

Here is what that looks like:

  • Month 1: Release N.0 stable

  • Month 2: (previous branch N-1 issues a maintenance release)

  • Month 3: Release N.1 stable

  • Month 4: (previous branch N-1 issues a maintenance release)

  • Month 5: Release N.2 stable

  • Month 6: (next branch N+1 issues a stable release)

  • Month 7: Release N.3 maintenance

  • Month 8: (next branch N+1 issues a stable release)

  • Month 9: Release N.4 maintenance

  • Month 10: (next branch N+1 issues a stable release)

  • Month 11: Release N.5 maintenance

For more information, or to volunteer, please check the in the wiki.

Unscheduled Releases

Additional releases may be requested by downstream projects at any point, or may be produced by a volunteer to quickly disseminate a security fix.

  • Additional stable (or maintenance releases) will use the next available version number. This does not disrupt the release schedule above. We expect volunteers to use common sense and collaborate rather than issue two releases during the same week.

  • Patch releases are formed by branching from a previous release tag, applying a fix, and issuing a release. Patch releases are versioned appropriately.

    As an example GeoServer is a patch release started by branching the GeoServer 2.5.5.