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On the drupal core download page I see two development branches, 8.0.x and 8.1.x.

I'm sure in the old days it just went linearly 8.0 then next would be 8.1 etc. but this suggests development is now parallel as if 8.0 and 8.1 are really different.

I'm interested to learn why this is this way. Why, for instance, as a developer would I work off 8.0.x and not 8.1.x?

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The answer is semantic versioning. The "1" in 8.1.x, represents a branch that can contain new features as well as bug fixes. Backwards-compatibility to code written for 8.0.x is inherent in the numbering system. So, if your code requires features in 8.1.x, you should develop against it, but note you won't be able to deploy your code until 8.1.0 releases.

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    To spell out more: yes, development is parrallell. Bugfixes happen to 8.0.x, new features on 8.1.x
    – Jonathan
    Jan 26, 2016 at 15:14
  • OK so 8.1 is probably where to start from with development, assuming the new features are going to be useful to me. Thanks. Jan 26, 2016 at 15:25
  • If you are okay working with the potential instability of a development release, working with 8.1.x-dev is fine. Generally though, for developing modules or building sites I would recommend developing on the latest stable version, unless you're relying on a feature that is only available in the next development release.
    – gapple
    Jan 27, 2016 at 19:45
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See http://semver.org/

X.Y.Z

  • "Patch version Z (x.y.Z | x > 0) MUST be incremented if only backwards compatible bug fixes are introduced."

  • "Minor version Y (x.Y.z | x > 0) MUST be incremented if new, backwards compatible functionality is introduced to the public API."

  • "Major version X (X.y.z | X > 0) MUST be incremented if any backwards incompatible changes are introduced to the public API."

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