After 2 comes... 4

Move over 3 — Angular 4 is the next version

Gabriela Motroc
Angular 4

The Angular team is proving that one should not worry about version numbers; instead, we should treat everything under the Angular umbrella as.. well, Angular. Although we were expecting to see Angular 3 in March 2017, turns out that number 4 is coming instead. The next months will be dedicated to wrapping up Angular 4.

Igor Minar, Angular Team Lead at Google, announced in his keynote at  NG-BE, Belgium’s first Angular conference, that the next version will be 4, not 3. 

Let’s start with the conclusion: as Igor said in his keynote, the Angular team is currently using TypeScript 1.8 (baseline). However, they will be switching to TypeScript 2.1, “so this technically means it’s a breaking change.” Although he assured the crowd that it’s not going to be a big deal, he did say that it will require “some developing intervention,” therefore it requires a major version bump —hence Angular 4.

It’s Angular 4’s time to shine

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Igor Minar opening keynote at NG-BE conference (screenshot)

Only the name changed, not the date: Angular 4 will be released in March 2017 and it will be backwards compatible with Angular 2. As Juri Strumpflohner, a full-stack developer, architect and tech lead with a passion for frontend development, especially Angular wrote in a guest blog post, “breaking changes don’t have to be painful.” The Angular team has been very vocal about rewriting frameworks; when Angular 3 was announced last month, Rob Wormald, developer advocate at Google and Angular core team member, joined a Reddit conversation and assured worried users that the team does not want to “rewrite a framework ever again.”

One month later, Igor reiterated the idea in his keynote, saying that the team’s intention is “to make sure that the ecosystem is not going to break because of some changes they make.” He explained that if they had to choose between 10 percent faster Angular and a broken ecosystem, they would surely preserve the stability of the ecosystem.

“The change is happening”

Igor emphasized that all the future releases will be introduced with minimal breaking changes. However, he explained that the reason why the Angular team needs these breaking changes is just like in the case of TypeScript: “We can’t be stuck on version 1.8, we’re just going to be obsolete soon. We need to keep evolving with the rest of the ecosystem, with the web. If we find that some APIs that we have in Angular are not ergonomic, we need to figure out a way to make them ergonomic but do it in a way that is not going to break the ecosystem.”

It’s just “Angular”

Igor also encouraged Angular users to stop using the version suffix and call it (just) “Angular” instead. The reason behind the decision to drop the version suffix (unless you are talking about “something very specific in a given release”) is that as they are releasing more and more versions, “it’s going to be super confusing for everybody.” Plus, because of the stability guarantees that they have “there is no big difference between Angular 4 and Angular 2.”

Semantic Versioning

One last friendly reminder: Angular is now using Semantic Versioning which, as Juri explained, “is all about adding meaning to version numbers.” In short, it indicates that “version numbers are meaningful and that patch releases will not change the functionality, minor releases will contain only additive changes, and breaking changes are reserved for major releases.”

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Igor Minar opening keynote at NG-BE conference (screenshot)

According to the tentative schedule, Angular 4 will be released in March 2017, Angular 5 in September/October 2017, Angular 6 in March 2018 and Angular 7 in September/October 2017 — all with minimal breaking changes.

Gabriela Motroc
Gabriela Motroc was editor of and JAX Magazine. Before working at Software & Support Media Group, she studied International Communication Management at the Hague University of Applied Sciences.

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