Comparison of stable, prerelease, and nightly builds

MuseScore comes in three varieties of builds: stable releases, prereleases, and nightly builds. If you have not been closely involved with a software project before, then these terms may be unfamiliar. Don't let that stop you from getting involved. The quality of a stable release depends on testing and reporting by the wider community using the prerelease and nightly builds.

Stable release

The stable versions (also called final releases) come about every nine months and are intended for normal, everyday use. Stable versions receive extensive testing from the community prior to release. In the lead up to an official release, code development slows down to focus on fixing bugs found by the testing community and to avoid introducing new problems. If any critical bugs are found at the last minute, then they may delay the official release. To obtain the latest stable release, click on the green download button at the top of the MuseScore website.

Prerelease

Prerelease builds of MuseScore come in the weeks leading up to a major release. Prereleases offer an early preview of the next upcoming stable release and are intended for testers and advanced users. Before each prerelease is made available for download, it is quickly tested to make sure the prerelease can open and save scores. Significant bugs are expected and do not necessarily hold back a prerelease, unless it breaks very basic functionality, such as entering a quarter note in 4/4 time. To obtain the latest prerelease, read the relevant section on the download page.

Nightly

Nightly builds of MuseScore are available for Windows and GNU/Linux and usually come every night, but may be less frequent if there are no changes to the code, or the builder is unable to create a build that day. The nightly builds are intended for testing only. Nightly builds are often created automatically, so you may be the first human to test a particular build. Occasionally, even basic functionality may be broken. To obtain the latest nightly, see:

Summary

Frequency Purpose Prior testing and stability
Official release About every 9 months Normal use Fairly stable
Prerelease Weeks leading up to a stable release Early preview for testers and advanced users Some instability expected
Nightly Every one to three days For testing only Untested