Recently, the biggest piece of news in the Drupal 8 world is that we are finally down to just one beta-blocker. This is really great, but what does it mean exactly? Well, in the big picture it means that we are very close to releasing a beta version of Drupal 8 for everyone to start playing with, and this is a major step towards getting the final release out the door.
What is a Beta?
A beta is a "stable development" version of the code. We are no longer adding lots of new and crazy things, and we've got the important pieces working pretty well. The idea of beta releases is that we have most things stabilized and we need module and theme developers to start working with the beta to ferret out the bugs of everyday use, as we continue to hammer on more bugs. It is important to understand that even though the APIs are considered stable, they can, and most likely will, change as we need to correct bugs in the APIs. Additionally, there are still a lot of known critical and major bugs out there, there is no guarantee you will have a beta-to-beta upgrade path, and the UI can still shift around. That said, we need you to help find bugs to be fixed before we get to the first official release.
When will the First Beta Come Out?
We have been releasing alpha versions of Drupal 8 since May 2013. As this release cycle issue explains, "Alpha releases should be considered unstable and unreliable. They are intended for testing and contributed module development only." It further explains the next step, where we complete and freeze the API, and begin beta releases. We froze our API over a year ago, in July 2013, and we've been working to stabilize the critical APIs. There has been a queue of beta-blocker tickets that lists all of the issues we know of that we consider critical to Drupal 8 and need to be resolved before we release a beta. And now we're down to just one last gnarly issue in that queue. You'll also note that there are queues for "beta deadline" and "beta target" issues. These two queues have issues that would be great to get in before a beta, but won't stop us from moving ahead, so if they don't get in before beta, oh well. You can read more about the different terms in this guide to Drupal 8 release management tags.
When we get this last beta blocker issue resolved, we'll release our (hopefully) last alpha version. When we have an alpha release that goes for at least two weeks with no new beta blockers, then we're ready to roll! At that point, we can get our hands on the new beta1.
When will Drupal 8 Finally Be Released?
Beta is a fair bit away from a full release. We still have a lot of known bugs that need to be fixed, and we can't release until at least all of the critical issues are closed. How long that will take is anyone's guess. At this point most of the community is hoping for it to come out in the first quarter of 2015 (fingers crossed!).
If you want to keep up on the latest status and work done for Drupal 8, you should keep an eye on the Drupal Core Updates group. I know that we certainly are. For the Drupalize.Me team getting to a beta means we have a mostly stable version to really start nailing down our curriculum and video planning, but unfortunately so many things can, and will, change both in the APIs and in the UI, that we'd be getting ahead of ourselves to start recording too much video right now. That said we are continuing to produce more preparatory material, like Symfony2 and Twig tutorials, and we're tightening up our Drupal 8 material so we'll hit the ground running once things stop moving around so much. We're also sharing what we learn about Drupal 8 as we go, so check out our Drupal 8 resources page often, as we update this with new content several times a month.