What matters most is that it's one of the boldest new versions of CF in quite some time. In this post, I want to share some tips about getting started with the beta, as I have seen many in the community left wondering about some things.
My focus here is not on "what's new" (I'll offer a brief list here, and more in a later post), but really just "how to get started", especially during the beta (or "prerelease") as some things are not as obvious as they perhaps should be. In fact, I make some pointed suggestions that I hope Adobe will consider, as well as share tips for you in the meantime.
In this post, I cover:
- How easily anyone can join the public beta (Don't miss all that's on the prerelease front page)
- Available documentation resources, don't miss them! (The 500-page (!) release notes, and separate system requirements and known issues docs)
- Getting help with the prerelease, don't go it alone! (Filing bug reports, feature requests for the prerelease; asking for help and learning in the available prerelease forums)
- The available installers and more
- A taste of what's new (more to come in a later post)
- About the use of the codename, Project Stratus
If I flip-flop between calling it "the prerelease" and "the beta", please forgive that. Both names are used on the Adobe site and they do mean essentially the same thing in this release.
How easily anyone can join the public betaSo the first and most important thing to know, I think, is that ANYONE can now join and use (or simply read about) the public beta. That's important, because I hear a lot of people asking questions or sharing sometimes-incorrect information which could be easily clarified just by reading the docs, or deploying it, which is easier than ever (see why that's so, below).
So to get started, just visit adobeprerelease.com, and chose the "project stratus" beta link. Once you login with your Adobe account (or create a new one), you'll be taken to the main page for the prerelease.
Don't miss all that's on the prerelease front page
Note that this front page of the prerelease offers a LOT more than it may seem on first glance. After some introductory info, it has a long list of links to what seem installers (which it includes), but note that it's not JUST installers but also links to the docs. See the next section here.
Then note that the front page also has links to file or view bug reports/feature requests, as well as to view announcements or participate in discussions, and more. See later sections here for more on that.
Available documentation resources, don't miss them!
Let's start with the docs. As with every CF release, there are various forms of documentation for working with it. Indeed, the second most important thing to know about the Project Stratus prerelease is that unlike some past CF releases, the documentation for this new release is very substantial, especially the release notes, as I will discuss
Lament:/ But first, again, you'd be forgiven for not even noticing the release notes and other docs, as they are listed in the middle of all the various installer files, at the bottom of the main page. I fear that many are never thinking to look down there. I hope that Adobe may revisit that layout, making the docs more conspicuous and separate from the "installers".
The 500-page (!) release notes
You read that right: the release notes for this prerelease is currently already over 500 pages of info! This PDF document covers everything from installation/deployment, to several major sections on new features, to Docker deployment, and more. You should check it out.
Tip: To find the document (within in that long list of files currently offered), look for "Project Stratus Beta Release Notes" on the prerelease main page,
Lament: Sadly, while the current version of the beta release notes dos have a substantial table of contents, it's not hierarchically organized. It's rather difficult to tell where the major sections start and end, and they're not all gathered into logical sections. It seems like some things have been appended to the TOC as they were added. Again, I hope that Adobe may address this in the near future.
Tip: Note that the docs AND the installers DO provide an indication of when they were last updated ("a month ago", as I write in late September). That way, as you return to this page later, you can easily tell when things are updated by Adobe (besides following possible announcements to prerelease participants).
Available system requirements, known issues docs, etc.
Besides the substantial release notes, there are still other forms of documentation (within that list of installers), currently.
Perhaps most important for most are the available system requirements document (indicating OS support and memory/disk requirements) and the known issues document (identifying things that may not quite yet work but are expected to before the final release). The known issues doc is currently about 5 pages of items in several categories, so it's worth reading before you may encounter these things and try to report them as bugs.
There is also a separate release notes doc for the Lockdown installer (introduced in CF2018, which is one of those available "installers" on the main page). That said, there is NOT a separate document for all of the "installers", like the docker image, and the serverless zip, etc. For more on using those, see the release notes document.
Getting help with the prerelease, don't go it alone!
For many people, they may be happy to stop at this point, "taking the ball and running with it", now that they know there are such substantial docs available.
But for most, they could quickly feel "alone" when they get stuck with something . Of course, Googling won't find much, since the prerelease is so new. Did you know you can raise issues and/or learn from Adobe and fellow beta testers, from that same front page?
Filing bug reports, feature requests for the prerelease
If you run into trouble during the prerelease and want to file a bug report or feature request (or read about others who have) you can do that. Your first place to go may be via the links on the bottom right of the main page, for "Bugs and Feature requests". That's ONE place, but it may not be the BEST place.
Lament: Note that those links are only for VIEWING existing ones, not for CREATING them.
How you do ADD a bug report or feature request? There is an easily-missed "give feedback" button on the top right of the prerelease main page.
Lament: I really do lament the naming of that button, as I fear people are missing that it exists. ...which may explain why there are very view bugs or feature requests listed there (as I write, over a month after the prerelease was opened publicly).
Asking for help and learning in the available prerelease forums
Fortunately, it's a little more apparent how to participate in discussions about the prerelease (or again, merely to lurk and learn from others). There are links on the right of the main page for "forums", including general discussions and "bug discussions", as well as "announcements" from Adobe.
Tip: Note the convenient "my activity" feature also on the right of the main page, to track your own discussions, bug reports, and feature requests.
Then again, the discussion there is light. I don't think it's because "hardly anyone is using the prerelease". Instead, I think it's that since the docs are so substantial, there is relatively less need to ask questions before digging in. But surely people will have issues or questions, and surely some will have missed how to even get started with the prerelease, so again that's why I am writing this post!
The available installers, and more
Let's move on from the docs to actually "getting" the prerelease. As you look down the list of files offered on that main page of the prerelease, you will notice there are actually different "groups" of files, and of course for most folks, the most important will be the first:
- Project Stratus installers (for Windows, Linux, MacOS, and Solaris)
- Addon installers (for Solr/PDFG if needed, for Window, Linux, MacOS, and Solaris)
- .NET service installer (for .NET integration if needed, for Windows)
- Performance Monitoring Toolset, aka PMT (for Windows, Linux, MacOS, and Solaris)
- checksums for the above files
- Docker image (for those interested, offered as tar.gz--with instructions for use in the Release Notes)
- War file (for those who may deploy that way, as a zip)
- Automated Lockdown tool (for Windows, Linux, MacOS, and Solaris)
- Serverless deployment tool (as a zip)
Again, see the 500-page(!) release notes for on all the above (including what aspects may be new/different, how to leverage such new features where different from before, etc.)
Lament I think they could really re-organize this part of the page to make it more clear what's what, or list more important things first (like the docs) as not everyone needs to wade through all of it.
Finally, as always, note that you can easily deploy CF2020 alongside older CF versions, if you want. CF installers never "update" an older version. They implement themselves alongside the current version, and if you're careful you can even configure your web server (like IIS or Apache) to pass requests to either version if that's desirable.
I plan to discuss more (in a follow-on post) about the actual installation process for Project Stratus, as well as some challenges specific to some of the new installer functionality which you may encounter.
A taste of what's new
Here, too, I plan to do a follow-on post with quite a bit more about how the many new features in Project Stratus/CF2021, but for now I wanted to at least leave especially those totally new to it with at least a "taste" of what's coming. Again, you can read ALL about these things in the release notes (and I really prefer that to folks asking me a lot of questions here):
- Cloud services (Still more support for integration with AWS (including more for S3, as well as SQS, SNS, SES, and DynamoDB) as well as Azure (BLOB support, Service Bus, and CosmosDB)
- Serverless deployment of CFML (for now, via Lambda on AWS)
- Addition of AWS elastiCache and Azure Redis cache, as cf distributed caching options
- SAML support (idp and sp)
- Modular deployment of CF, with a much smaller initial installation, and a package manager(cfpm) for adding modules, including when offline
- JSON-based automation of CF Admin configuration, as an option (cfsetup)
- Language enhancements (many, as always)
- PMT enhancements
- Docker image enhancements (smaller, faster-starting)
- and more
And yes, there are also "hidden gems" beyond these, which I plan to cover in a talk at the upcoming online CF Summit 2020.
There are also some things planned that have NOT yet made the beta, which Adobe has hinted at. We should hear more by the time of the Summit.
About the use of the codename, Project Stratus
Finally, some may wonder about use of a codename like "Project Stratus". For those who have been around CF a while, you may recall that previous new releases had code names as well (more on them in a moment). It seems as much a legal issue as anything.
But note that for now the branding (use of that name) carries through completely in the beta currently, from the installer names, to the docker image names, the docs, the CF admin pages, and much more. All those will of course be renamed once the release goes final. And again, the tea leaves as I read them suggest that may be in 2021.
That said, it's worth noting that sometimes a vestige of an old prerelease codename remains, long after that prerelease. Have you ever wondered why the CF Admin config xml files (in the cfusion/lib folder) are all prefaced with "neo"? That was the codename for CF6. For some reason, those were never renamed upon release, and there was no especially compelling reason to rename them since.
And here's a quiz for old-timers: can you remember all the other past CF codenames? 2018 was Aether, while CF2016 was Raijin. Others before them were Splendor (CF11), Zeus (CF10), Centaur (CF9), Scorpio (CF8), and Blackstone (CF7).
Again look for more from me to come, with additional posts on Project Stratus, or CF2020 or 2021, whatever it may be called. (This year can't be over soon enough!)
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