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Inside open source releases at Bitwarden

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Security standards are always evolving, and so is Bitwarden.

As an open source company, Bitwarden releases happen in full view! The first releases of 2024 brought Log in with Passkey `beta`, account switching to browsers, and additional flexibility to collections and permissions.

Bitwarden product updates can be broken into 4 simple processes:

  • Ideas and planning

  • Development and QA

  • Initial release

  • General availability

For new features and functions, waiting until general availability, also known as a public release, when updates or features are made widely available is the best practice. An informative blog post is most often paired with these releases as well.

Big ideas

From the community forums to the subreddit, the Bitwarden community is a thriving, energetic, and genuine part of the Bitwarden DNA, and Bitwarden treats the feedback received accordingly. Once an idea for an improvement or feature is prioritized and scoped for development, it then becomes a task for a member (or members) of the engineering team.

Committed to open source

Code for Bitwarden resides within one of the GitHub repositories - which are linked to Bitwarden Server and Client Application code.

Once the code has landed in a repository, it is visible to anyone. You will see many updates to this code over a release cycle, which is usually about 14 days for the server and web vault, and 28 days for the browser extension, desktop, and mobile app.

Code will be added, updated, tested, changed, and reviewed in its individual branch before being merged into the main codebase, also referred to as the master branch. Once merged into the master branch, the code is now queued to be released, but is not yet generally available for use.

Test drives

When all the coding is done - a phase known as dev complete or feature complete - it’s time to do final and regression testing.

You may see issues created in the GitHub repository for the item being tested, and additional code commits to fix detected issues.

Into the wild

After thoroughly testing the software, a release is prepared and the latest features are put in the hands of the community!

When it comes to releases of the Bitwarden Server and theBitwarden Web App, Bitwarden deploys them to the cloud instance first.

A new release will be available to Bitwarden cloud users first, as the DevOps team monitors to ensure smooth operations. This allows Bitwarden to make updates quickly and accurately with a centrally managed and monitored deployment.

Client applications

After the Bitwarden cloud updates go live, client applications are usually published within 24 hours. Client applications can take anywhere between 1-5 days to become available, depending on the particular platform and publication queues.

During this time, users may see features that are available on the Server or Web Vault, but not yet compatible with their apps. Sometimes a released feature will be turned off until the clients have properly propagated throughout the stores. Don’t worry, they will be available soon!

Self-hosting

Releases usually settle over a couple of business days and once the engineering team confirms final release health, Bitwarden deploys the updates to Dockerhub so self-hosted users can start their updates.

General Availability

How will you know when a release or feature is generally available? The best way to stay up to date is to follow the Bitwarden Blog. The blog will share all the important information about a new feature, as well as any associated documentation once it reaches general availability.

To get information in a more real-time fashion, see up-to-date details about Bitwarden releases in a variety of ways below:

Monthly newsletter 

Release notes

Status updates

Community announcements

This simplified description of the development and launch process was intended as a quick crash course for those who may be new to open source and development cycles in general. This does not encompass all workflows, processes, checks, balances, or peer, and security reviews that occur during a Bitwarden product release.

Get Started with Bitwarden

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Editor's note: This blog was originally written on May 18th, 2021 and updated on February 5th, 2024.

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