Ed-Fi Data And API Standard Release Cadence


This document explains general principles that the Ed-Fi Alliance follows in planning its software releases. It is intended to help community members understand assumptions and expectations with regards to upgrade and management of their Ed-Fi-based infrastructure.

The Alliance may deviate from this plan if unforeseen needs or other conditions arise, and any changes affecting specific products will be included in the Ed-Fi Technology Roadmap.

Each release of a Data Standard is implicitly a release of a new API Standard, which is represented through an Open API specification. References to "Data Standard" below also imply release of the API Standard, which exists apart from a specific implementation. As of 2023, the Alliance has decoupled the Data and API Standards from the ODS/API application versioning. This document refers to the support of a given Data Standard / API Standard major version.

Goals of this Pattern

The goals of this release cadence are to balance change with stability:

  1. Allow the Data Standard and API to evolve over time. In particular, the plan seeks to avoid large breaks that could be disruptive to the ecosystem
  2. Maximize stability for adopters of the standards and of the Ed-Fi platform. This was generally seen as limiting the requirement to take breaking changes and/or create multiple years of stability on major versions, and to not force changes during the school year.
  3. Minimize the support burden on vendors. The cadence provides a template that – with support of the community – can limit vendor support to 2 major API / Data Standard versions.
  4. Allow agencies and vendors to plan and budget for significant changes.


The Alliance uses semantic versioning for assigning version numbers for its software releases. For more information, see Ed-Fi Software Versioning.

A "major" release may contain "breaking changes" that are not backwards compatible with prior versions.


The Alliance publishes its roadmap at Ed-Fi Technology Roadmap. Organizations using Ed-Fi software products are advised to follow the roadmap and look for changes. The roadmap will describe important updates, such as product release dates and major feature sets, product end-of-life, or school year targeting (i.e., notes indicating assumptions as to when the community will deploy target releases in production).

Key Notes on the Cadence

The cadence is shown below as a chronological diagram.

  • Major Data Standard versions are supported for four school years.
  • Major Data Standard releases will occur on alternating years.
  • Consequence: there will be two years of overlapping support for major versions.
  • Between major releases, there may still be a minor releases to provide non-breaking changes to a supported major version.
  • The release cadence assumes that users will maintain the same major version of the Data Standard throughout the whole school year. This follows the general cadence for systems upgrades at education agencies, where major changes are generally made between school years. Note this does not mean that all upgrade work is undertaken during the summer, only that major data standard changes to users are typically presented to users at a school year boundary. 
  • The Ed-Fi Alliance will attempt to confine major version changes to the Data Standard to particular areas or domains of the standard. By limiting changes to fewer domains in each major version, the plan supports heathy evolution of Data Standard and API and provides predictability for education agencies, platform hosts and vendors to plan their roadmaps.  
  • Bug fixes and minor data standard releases will generally be delivered via the latest ODS / API release vehicle.
  • The Alliance will target a Summer release for early access versions (versions for feedback) and Fall/Winter for versions intended for deployment at the following school year (see section below on "Calendar pattern").

Colloquially, we refer to this as the "break-rest-break-rest" release pattern.

More on Support Policy

The cornerstone of the release strategy is to support each major release for four school years from the initial target school year. During this period, minor non-breaking Data Standard improvements and bug fixes may be provided to active major releases. Triage and initial investigation support is provided for all active versions during support period.

To the extent possible, security fixes may be provided for older minor releases, but such fixes and patch fixes may only be provided only to the latest minor releases of active major release, and agencies needing these fixes will be asked to update to a later minor point version. We recommend that all implementations run the latest available minor release for a major version.

Decoupling Data Standard and Platform Releases

To support more frequent evolution of Ed-Fi Data Standard and the Ed-Fi ODS/API Platform and to support the longer support window, API Platform versions are decoupled from Data Standard and API versions, allowing the API Platform to seamlessly work with different Data Standard and API versions. This allows implementations to receive technology updates more frequently without upgrading to a major Data Standard version during the school year. It also allows the Alliance to deliver minor Data Standard updates with the most current technology. (i.e. Ed-Fi ODS / API v7.x may be used to deliver minor data standard update to data standard version v4.x as well as v5.x)

What Constitutes a Breaking Data Standard / API Change?

Please consult Ed-Fi Data Standard Versioning and Releases

General Calendar Pattern for Releases

The following diagram shows typical cadence. Please consult the roadmap for specific information about releases.

Upgrade Recommendations 

The community is encouraged to upgrade to the API Platform version that delivers the latest major Data Standard version at the beginning of the school year. If that is not a possibility, implementations should upgrade to platform version that delivers the latest minor release of the currently deployed major version. Minor data standard version upgrades are intended to be non-breaking to vendors, so they can also be applied during the school year even if the platform release vehicle for it has a different major version than currently deployed platform. In such a case, agencies are still advised to look closely at the change log to detect possible issues.