With Unity’s evolution to a package-based feature-delivery system, we will reduce the number of TECH stream releases in 2020, while delivering continuous updates for all feature areas throughout the year.
Since 2018, we have built, tested, and made available three Unity TECH stream releases as well as one Long-Term Support (LTS) release per year, as I explained in this post. Starting in 2020, we will deliver two TECH stream releases per year, followed by the LTS release early the following year. There is no change to the LTS schedule.
The change in the frequency of our TECH stream releases is due to the flexibility provided by Unity’s Package Manager. It enables us to decouple many features, APIs and other updates from our TECH stream releases. Thomas Petersen, our VP of Quality explains: “We’re now moving more of our features into packages. This gives us a number of advantages - one of them is that we can easily update or fix issues in an individual feature without having to update the entire codebase, which also stabilizes the Unity core.”
Here are just some of the ways the change in our TECH stream release schedule will benefit the Unity community.
Our Beta program is well known and we are always grateful to the commitment of the thousands of developers who take part in it. By reducing the number of TECH stream releases per year, beta testers will have more time to evaluate the tools and capabilities of each core beta release and be able to get deeper into them, while we will have more time to address and fix the issues that they report.
We are well aware of the time and resource commitment needed to install and upgrade to a new TECH stream version of Unity. While not every developer or studio is in lockstep with our TECH stream releases, some are. With our move from three to two such releases per year, they will only need to integrate a new TECH stream release every six months instead of every four months.
Increasingly, developers outside the world of video and mobile games are using Unity to produce AR/VR apps, real-time 3D experiences, films, and so on for a wide range of use cases and industries such as Automotive, Transportation & Manufacturing, Architecture, Engineering & Construction, and Film, Animation & Cinematics. With more industry-specific Unity features available via packages, they will be able to reach their creative and market goals faster.
Finally, at Unity we have always worked hard to support the widest number of third-party platforms (currently more than 20), allowing developers to output to iOS, PlayStation 4, Oculus, Magic Leap and many more from the same project. Our new TECH stream cycle and package-based approach underscores that commitment. As new hardware and software platforms emerge, Unity developers will have faster access to audiences on the latest innovative devices.
As you may know, the new Data-Oriented Technology Stack for high-performance, multithreaded projects is fundamentally evolving the way developers will build games and applications within Unity. The stack consists of a growing number of packages. Since we are committed to the rapid development and deployment of DOTS technology and tools, developers can take advantage of the latest DOTS features and bug fixes as soon as they’re available.