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Long Term Support for Angular Announced at ng-conf 2017

| by David Iffland Follow 3 Followers on Apr 07, 2017. Estimated reading time: 3 minutes |

With the release of Angular 4 complete, Igor Minar and Steven Fluin took their place on the ng-conf 2017 Keynote stage to draw attention to the state of the Angular ecosystem. While much of the major work is in the rearview mirror, Angular has entered a new phase of growing maturity.

Instead of talking about the technical advances in Angular, the presenters spent the time to showcase the softer side of Angular. In a nod to the community and Angular's dependence on it, Minar started off the keynote by answering the question "why do we build Angular?".

What we are trying to do is to enable creations of applications that people love to use, that people feel good about using. And we want these applications to be built by developers who love what they do, who love building these applications, who they feel productive. And we want developers to be part of the community that is welcoming and inclusive.

Minar says that the community is growing, although it's hard to tell how much of that growth is new and not cannibalization of the existing AngularJS (1.X) community. Fluin highlighted the recent StackOverflow 2017 Developer Survey. "According to StackOverflow's numbers, 44% of respondents are using AngularJS or Angular", said Fluin. While this sounds positive, there may be a darker reality. The same survey showed that 48% of Angular developers "have not expressed interest in continuing".

Describing the road map for future development, Minar acknowledged the need to evolve while maintaining current version support for those who require it:

The web ecosystem outside of Angular is not static. It's also evolving; the standards are evolving, the browsers are evolving. Angular needs to be able to keep up with these changes and adjust, and take advantage of all the new stuff that is coming. But we understand that there are some of you who don't have this flexibility [to upgrade].

Minar announced that version 4 will be the first version of Angular with Long Term Support (LTS). Due to the new six month major release cadence, version 4 will be the primary version until October 2017, at which point version 5 will be released. At that time, for a period of one year, "only the critical fixes and patches will be merged and released," said Minar. This is a boon to those enterprises that don't have the ability to constantly upgrade Angular and their applications.

Minar also signaled to the community that just because the major version number will continue to climb every six months, that doesn't mean that developers are in for a slew of breaking changes twice a year:

Often major versions mean breaking changes. For us, they just mean "we did a lot of stuff, we need extra time for you to validate". For us, [with] major versions, we're trying to do something awesome; we're trying to change Angular in a good way so that you can take advantage and build better applications. But we also want to make sure that it's very simple for you to upgrade. We're doing a lot to make sure that major version doesn't mean a big obstacle.

There wasn't much to preview for version 5, but Minar did say that their goals are to simplify, improve speed and size, and make updates easy. For example, the dev/production compilation duality in use now will unify. As the compiler improves, development and production will both use the Ahead-Of-Time compiler currently in use for production.

ng-conf is a major Angular conference held annually in Salt Lake City, Utah. All of the session videos are available on YouTube.

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