Introducing Zed's preview channel

July 19th, 2023

Zed's preview channel

We're excited to announce the public launch of Zed's preview channel. Until now, the preview channel has only been used internally and by a small group of community members, but we're now ready for all Zed's users to join us on it.

What is the preview channel?

The preview channel serves as a early-access platform for Zed's releases. It offers a snapshot of what's to come by providing access to new features ahead of their official release. This channel is a crucial part of our development process, as it helps us uncover bugs at an early stage, mitigating the chance of them making their way into stable builds.

Release process and Git flow

Our release process is straightforward: Pull requests are merged into the main branch. On release day, a preview branch is forked off of the main branch and a stable branch is forked off of the preview branch. Version tags are added to both the preview and stable branches. When these tags are pushed to the remote, our CI release workflow is triggerd on GitHub, which begins building the binaries. The preview channel is always one week ahead of the stable channel, as our release days are generally 1 week apart and occur on Wednesdays.

Who should use the preview channel?

If you are interested in testing new features before they hit the stable channel, then the preview channel might be the place for you. Feedback from users on preview builds help us identify issues early on, and contributes to the reliability of the stable build. While the preview channel has historically been pretty robust itself, we do recommend only using it if you are positioned to deal with additional bugs and potentially more frequent crashes; if you are working critical projects, you may want to stick with stable.

Additional considerations

It should be noted that larger features might be scoped to preview for extended periods of time, to ensure they are robust enough to transition over to stable. It also should be noted that a feature's existence in a preview build does not guarantee its existence in a stable build, as we sometimes decide to scrap features that aren't working out as expected. Neither of these cases are common, but they have occurred in the past. Lastly, it should be mentioned that collaboration between channels isn't supported; if you are actively using Zed to collaborate with others, you and your collaborators will need to be on the same channel.

Wrap up

If you would like to grab a preview build, you can do so here. You can install the preview release alongside the stable release. Additionally, it has the capability to auto-update like the stable version. If you have any preview-related feedback, you can chat with us in our preview Discord channel, file an issue in our issue tracker, or tweet us. We look forward to seeing you on the preview channel!