I’ve been pondering version numbers a lot recently – there’s a lot of new “libraries” and major upgrades going on at work, and I’ve seen a few examples “in the wild” lately of people having to choose version numbers – and not always getting it right. It may seem like it’s “just a label”, but give something the “wrong” version number, and you can cause a lot of unnecessary confusion, as people will make assumptions based on it.
By an interesting coincidence, just as I was thinking about this post, I came upon Tom Preston-Warner’s “Semantic Versioning Specification”, which covers some of the issues nicely. But while he is mainly considering the problems of “dependency hell” – very important to consider when writing a library or tool which is likely to become a dependency for some other project downstream – there are wider issues with what a version number means to people, even if you are making a desktop application for use by “ordinary folks”.
So, here are my “Golden Rules of Version Naming” – as with everything in life, they are often mutually contradictory, and full of exceptions; life is all about compromise, but that doesn’t mean you have to compromise everything.