As I announced in my keynote presentation at DrupalCon DC this morning, the next code freeze will be on September 1st, a little less than six months from now. It's been more than a year since we started work on Drupal 7, and we have two-thirds of the development cycle behind us.
After September 1, we'll focus on the performance, usability and stability of the code we have in hand, and begin preparing for the release of Drupal 7. As a general rule, after the code freeze, only bug fixes will be allowed.
Announcing a code freeze date is always a little bit dangerous in light of a possible slip, but doing so helps prioritize development efforts and helps end-users in their planning. Drupal 7's release date is still unknown. As always, it's ready when it's ready, and the actual release date will depend on the length of the code freeze, which, in turn, depends on how well the Drupal community continues to embrace test-driven development.
I decided on September 1st after talking with people in the community (including my Drupal 7 co-maintainer webchick), reading forums topics, listening to users and examining the download and usage statistics. Now that most of the major modules work with Drupal 6, it's clear that Drupal 6 has really taken off. As an example, Drupal.org is humming along on Drupal 6.
To make Drupal 7 a killer release, we have a lot of work remaining. Another six months of development should leave us with enough time to complete existing work (like fields in core and our database abstraction layer), to add additional features, to incorporate various usability improvements (based on the usability team's work and that of Mark Boulton), and more.
With only six months ahead of us, now is the time to get involved. As usual, the amount of core contributions increases as we approach code freeze so the sooner your patches land, the better.
I haven't blogged much about Drupal 7 yet, and have resisted the urge to do so because I felt people weren't ready for it. For many of us, instead, we've used the last few months to focus on some heavy backend work like the new database abstraction layer and fields in core. As we begin to build the momentum for our next release, expect me to blog more about the exciting development efforts occuring in Drupal 7.
— Dries Buytaert