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Understanding Versioning in Idem: Ensuring Seamless Dependency Management

Idem, a potent tool for managing cloud infrastructure, follows a structured approach to versioning that revolves around semantic versioning. This approach aims to streamline updates and dependencies, ensuring compatibility and stability. This article dives into how versioning is implemented in Idem, its dependencies, and plugins, to provide insight into how to manage these components effectively.

Semantic Versioning Explained

Idem employs a semantic versioning system, which is a universally adopted standard in software versioning. It has three numbers in the format <major>.<minor>.<point>. Each of these numbers conveys specific information regarding the nature of the release.

Point Release

A point release is the last number in the versioning schema. When you see an increment in the point number, it indicates that the release contains only bug fixes without any addition of new features. This type of release is often essential for enhancing stability and performance.


Example: Going from 1.2.3 to 1.2.4 signifies a point release.

Minor Release

A minor release is signified by the second number. When this number is incremented, it's indicative of a new feature being added. However, it doesn't alter any existing functionalities or behaviors.

Example: Transitioning from 1.2.3 to 1.3.0 signifies a minor release.

Major Release

The first number represents a major release. An increment in this number denotes a behavior change within the software. For instance, if Idem drops support for Python 3.7 due to its End of Life (EOL) and adds support for Python 3.11, this is considered a behavior change, warranting a major version bump.

Example: Moving from 1.2.3 to 2.0.0 denotes a major release.


Release Classification

It's important to note that only one type of version bump will occur per release. If there are behavior changes along with new features and bug fixes, a major version bump takes place. If there are new features and bug fixes but no behavior changes, a minor version bump is carried out. Lastly, if there are only bug fixes with no new features or behavior changes, a point version bump is applied. This classification ensures clarity and consistency in the release process.

Alternate Versioning Practices

While semantic versioning is popular, some projects adopt alternative versioning practices. For instance, Linus Torvalds, the creator of the Linux kernel, prefers not to have minor versions greater than 20, and uses this as the basis for incrementing version numbers.


Another practice seen particularly in projects with nightly builds is using the date of the release as the version number in the format <year>.<month>.<day>.

Release Cycle of Idem and Idem-AWS

Idem and its AWS plugin, idem-aws, are released regularly almost every Friday – with rare exceptions for critical bug fixes. This regular release schedule ensures that users always have access to the latest features, bug fixes, and improvements.

However, it's essential to note that this frequent release cycle is specific to idem and idem-aws. Other idem-based projects and dependencies that do not have a high volume of changes are released "as needed."

Overcoming The Fear of Major Version Increments

In some Python projects, there's a tendency to avoid releasing a version as 1.0.0 due to the perception that the project is not yet "finished" or "ready". This leads to perpetual incrementing of only the minor version.

It is advisable to break through this hesitation and liberally increment major version numbers, especially early in a project's life when there are frequent behavior changes. Higher major version numbers can demonstrate a project's maturity. Therefore, don't be hesitant to label your release as 1.0.0. Be confident - your project is more ready than you might think!

Why Is Versioning Important?

Versioning is crucial for several reasons:

  1. Stability and Compatibility: It ensures that updates and changes do not inadvertently break existing functionalities. Users can update to a new version with the assurance that their current implementations will not be adversely affected.

  2. Informed Decisions: Users can make informed decisions on whether or not to update based on the nature of the release (major, minor, or point).

  3. Dependency Management: It aids in managing dependencies and plugins. Users can ensure that they are using compatible versions of Idem, plugins, and dependencies that work seamlessly together.

Conclusion

Understanding versioning in Idem is critical for effectively managing cloud resources and dependencies. The structured semantic versioning system, combined with a regular release cycle, ensures that users can stay updated with the latest features and improvements while maintaining compatibility and stability. Whether you're a developer or an IT professional using Idem, it's important to keep an eye on version numbers and understand what they signify to make the most of this powerful tool.

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