Our roadmap to version 1.0 was published in July 2017. It described a set of themes we wanted to address within the project, along with the functional items we decided were necessary to get there.
Since then we’ve made gradual progress through the roadmap with three milestone releases containing many of its features. But there are still a number of features outstanding and at the current course and speed, it would be another 6 months to get them done.
Having shipped the 0.20 release with the runtime/editor split work complete, we’ve been discussing how we can get to 1.0 sooner. We’ve been challenging the assumptions that underpinned the roadmap to see if they still held true.
The key realisation is that 1.0 is not the end of the project. It is just another release, albeit one that rightly signifies the maturity of the project.
The main concept with the 1.0 roadmap was to get to a point of functional ‘completeness’ and API stability.
This means we’ve addressed the major gaps of functionality that users have fed back to us. This is focussed on the larger items - pieces that have to be addressed in the core runtime, rather than as incremental enhancements to the existing nodes.
Projects (0.18), Persistable Context (0.19) and Subflow Instance Properties (0.20) all fall into this criteria. Each of those addresses very specific requirements and greatly enhance what users can build with Node-RED.
Whenever we add new features to the runtime, they introduce new APIs and extension points. As more users look to integrate Node-RED with their existing applications, or to customise it for their own needs, there is a real need to have a stable API.
The Runtime/Editor split (0.20) work was the major item here - it has exposed more of the internal components of Node-RED with APIs that can be reused. There’s more to be done to properly document those APIs and provide more concrete examples of how they can be used, but the technical work has been done.
There are three items from the original roadmap that have not yet been delivered:
- Library Redesign - an overhaul of the built-in library experience; one of the oldest bits of the Node-RED user experience that has not had much attention.
- Pluggable Message Routing - the ability to plug custom code into how messages are passed between nodes.
- New Message API - an update to how nodes handle messages that will enable the runtime to track better what nodes are doing and enable features such as automatically timing out a node.
Work has started to various degrees on all three, from high-level design work to actual code contributions. But they all have more work to be done.
There are also a number of threads of activity on items that didn’t feature in the original roadmap, including:
- Subflows Properties UI - allow a subflow to define its own custom UI to set its instance properties
- Integrated Flow Testing - being able to define test cases for your flows in the editor and have a test-runner that can be used to validate them
- Flow Linter - a command-line tool that can be used to validate a flow based on a set of rules about what a flow should and shouldn’t do
The risk we have, with all of this activity going on, is that we keep finding ‘one more thing’ to do before getting to 1.0. Each new item brings a risk of destabilising what we have and adding more time into the plan.
Changing the plan
With all of this in mind, we’re going to do some reprioritisation to ensure we’re focussed only on what is absolutely necessary for 1.0.
Here’s what that means to the remaining roadmap features:
This will provide a much needed cosmetic improvement to how users interact with the library in the editor, but won’t introduce any new capabilities. The underlying APIs will largely remain the same.
We will not add the ability to plug-in other library sources in the 1.0 release, but the UI changes will keep that in mind for the future.
Pluggable Message Routing
This feature is no longer in the plan for 1.0. By itself, it doesn’t add any value to users. The real value comes with the things that can then be plugged in - such as an interactive flow debugger. Rather than rush through a design for this item it makes sense for it to be done after 1.0, when we can also work on some concrete uses for it in parallel
New Messaging API
We have had a design for this agreed for some time and there’s also a pull-request that implements that design sat waiting. But in the last couple of weeks we’ve identified some concerns that the new API is too big of a change for the value it would bring. With 1900+ node modules published, we need to be careful over any change we introduce in this area. An alternative design is being discussed which is a much more modest change that provides most of the functionality needed.
The 1.0 release is an opportunity to make a splash around the project. That will bring new users to the community so we need to make sure we have everything in place to introduce them to Node-RED and help them get started.
So alongside the technical work for 1.0, we also want to give the website a clean up, review our documentation and get more content into the cookbook. If you’re looking for ways to contribute to the project, but not sure about jumping into the code, there’s plenty to help with in this area.
When is 1.0?
The intention is for the next milestone release of Node-RED to be version 1.0.
The target is to have the first 1.0-beta release in mid-May with the final release available in early June.
As we said at the start, version 1.0 is not the end of the project - its the next step forward in the project’s growth.
Alongside the release we’ll have a clear roadmap of the ongoing work to take us to the next milestone and beyond.
We’ll also have the results of our Community Survey to feed back into the plan - if you haven’t completed the survey yet, please do!