Intro to SemVer

For the official Semantic Version docs head to semver.org. This is just a quick guide for people getting started and how SemVer is used in GitVersion.

Why SemVer?

The quick reason is to solve two problems: Version Lock and Version promiscuity. To explain these things, let's imagine the scenario where I am building an app which authenticates with Facebook (v1.0.0) and Twitter (v1.0.0). Both the Facebook and Twitter libraries use a JSON library (v1.0.0).

Version lock is when we rely on absolute versions, both FacebookApi and TwitterApi rely on v1.0.0 of JsonLibrary. JsonLibrary v1.1.0 comes out and FacebookApi decides to upgrade. If our dependency management relies on exact versions we cannot upgrade our application to use FacebookApi because TwitterApi references v1.0.0. The only way we can upgrade is if TwitterApi also upgrades to v1.1.0 of JsonLibrary.

Version Promiscuity is the opposite problem, JsonLibrary releases v1.1.0 with some breaking changes then we will just upgrade, and TwitterApi will break unexpectedly.

SemVer introduces conventions about breaking changes into our version numbers so we can safely upgrade dependencies without fear of unexpected, breaking changes while still allowing us to upgrade downstream libraries to get new features and bug fixes. The convention is quite simple:

  • {major}.{minor}.{patch}-{tag}+{buildmetadata}
  • {major} is only incremented if the release has breaking changes (includes bug fixes which have breaking behavioural changes
  • {minor} is incremented if the release has new non-breaking features
  • {patch} is incremented if the release only contains non-breaking bug fixes
  • {tag} is optional and denotes a pre-release of the version preceeding
  • {buildmetadata} is optional and contains additional information about the version, but does not affect the semantic version preceding it.

Only one number should be incremented per release, and all lower parts should be reset to 0 (if {major} is incrememented, then {minor} and {patch} should become 0).

For a more complete explaination check out semver.org which is the official spec. Remember this is a brief introduction and does not cover all parts of semantic versioning, just the important parts to get started.

SemVer in GitVersion

GitVersion makes it easy to follow semantic versioning in your library by automatically calculating the next semantic version which your library/application is likely to use. In GitFlow the develop branch will bump the minor when master is tagged, while GitHubFlow will bump the patch.

Because one size does not always fit all, GitVersion provides many Variables for you to use which contain different variations of the version. For example SemVer will be in the format {major}.{minor}.{patch}-{tag}, but FullSemVer will also include build metadata: {major}.{minor}.{patch}-{tag}+{buildmetadata}