16 Jan 2012 joey   » (Master)

version numbers

Today I released two entirely different pieces of software with the identical version number 3.20120115. Debian developers also will be soon noticing a piece of software I released with the version number 9.20120115.

I expect to move more of my software to this version number scheme over time, unless I find something badly wrong with it. It reflects how I think about versions for my software; there's a kind of continual "now" that development progresses through, in which individual releases have little discrete meaning and at the same time, there can also be significant discontinuities, that require the user to do something to deal with (such as a new debhelper compat version, or a new git-annex repository format).

Those two things are really all that I need a version number for my software to communicate. I can do without the rest of the things that version numbers are used for:

  • The marketing of version 1.0 and 2.0.
  • The comparative nuances such as whether 1.0 to 1.1 is a relatively big change, and 1.0 to 1.0.1 is a relatively small change
  • The implication that 0.99 is almost 1.0 ready, and 1.1a is some kind of alpha release.

There is so much software, with so many version numbers that any signal encoded in such version numbers is swamped in the noise. Even on projects that I develop a version number like 2.88 is meaningless to me. All I care about is, how long ago was that version? Has there been a major change breaking compatibility since that version? "2.88" doesn't answer these questions well; "3.20111111" does.

It is a little wordy to have the full year in there, and it can be annoying to remember to set the version to the right date on release day (TODO: automate). This is balanced with the version not being so wordy as to include the time of day, which means I might have to do a 3.20120115.1 if I goof up. These minor problems are worth it to instantly know how old a version is when a user pastes it into a bug report.

And that is probably all I will ever have to say about version numbers. :)

Syndicated 2012-01-16 02:21:07 from see shy jo

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