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My business partner and I are developing several plugins and we want to know if there is a standard for the version number of a plugin when there are updates, i.e., version 1.0, version 1.2, version 1.2.3, etc?

Thanks for any advise.

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2 Answers 2

up vote 7 down vote accepted

No, there is no standard. You can even use names, roman numerals or whatever, but I would not recommend it.

Most authors use Semantic Versioning: Major.Minor.Patch.

This has several drawbacks:

  • Users are afraid of “big changes”. Upgrades for a new version with a change in the first part (Major) are often delayed, or users are waiting for the first “service pack” (2.0.1).
  • Developers are sometimes not sure when to change which part. What is major? A big code change may have little impact for the user experience.
  • The length of a version number is not predictable. 1.2.3 vs. 2.12.123. Not a big deal, but not ideal.

In practice, Semantic Versioning isn’t that semantic.

I prefer the date as version number: 2012.11.19

  • Changes in the first number are obviously not related to “big changes” in the program.
  • No 0 at the end. Never. :)
  • Always the same length (except when you have more than one version per day).
  • Compatible with version_compare() – this could be seen as a standard.

Recommended reading:

Both schemes work. The difference is mostly in the user experience.

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+1 for date. Highly preferred over major.minor.patch as the last update date can be read. "Normal" version numbers don't tell the user anything. Just the developer. –  kaiser Nov 20 '12 at 0:32
    
Thanks for the input @toscho and for the additional recommended reading. Very helpful! –  Steve O'Sullivan Nov 20 '12 at 0:38
    
@SteveO'Sullivan Right below the voting arrows is a check mark, so you can take something as "solution" and move it out of the "unanswered"/open row. –  kaiser Nov 20 '12 at 1:07

The standard for version numbers in PHP works like this:

MAJOR dot MINOR dot REVISION

Each of these is an integer, and independent from the rest. It is not a decimal number. This is important because of how version_compare works.

MAJOR is the major version. You'd update this number after a major change to the code, such as completely revamping the way the code works.

MINOR is the minor version. You'd update this number after a minor change to the code, such as adding a new feature.

REVISION is a revision number. You'd update this after a change to an existing minor version, such as a bugfix.

Now, again versions are integers separated by dots. So, because of this, version 1.1 = 1.01 ; both of those version numbers are identical, the major version is 1, the minor version is 1.

For another example, version 1.9 is less than version 1.10 ; the minor version has changed from nine to ten.

Because WordPress uses the version_compare function of PHP, you kinda have to follow these methods for version numbering.

Note that WordPress itself is an exception in a minor way, in that the core goes from 2.9 to 3.0. This is legacy, and just the way they've always done numbering. It's compatible with the version_compare function, but generally speaking one should go from 2.9 to 2.10 if there's no significant rewrite to justify the major version bump.

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Thanks for the help and information @Otto, much appreciated! –  Steve O'Sullivan Nov 20 '12 at 0:36

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