On rapid releases and version numbers · 2011-08-19 18:45 by Wladimir Palant
I’ve spent a little too much time arguing about rapid releases and version numbers in a German-language forum. In the end, I think that the benefits of rapid releases outweigh their disadvantages. It is indeed important for Mozilla to bring out new features faster, working more than a year on a release like it happened for Firefox 4 is unacceptable. Seeing Mozilla fall behind on caniuse.com and the like isn’t great, Mozilla shouldn’t become the factor slowing down progress on the web. Also, as an add-on author I like that release dates are predictable now, it allows planning in advance.
Still, there are also issues. One aspect that received particularly much criticism is that the version numbers are a lot less useful now. There is an idea floating around and I think that I like it quite a lot: instead of increasing the version number continuously the version numbers should relate to the release date. So Firefox 7 would become Firefox 2011.4 (4th major release in year 2011). Gecko version numbers could stay the same of course — or not. The advantages of this versioning scheme:
- The version numbers are relatively easy to remember again.
- One can see how current a release is just by looking at the version number.
- No false expectations because normally only the version part after the dot changes — so nobody will expect huge changes.
- The version numbers in this versioning scheme are higher so transitioning from the current versioning scheme is unproblematic.
I think that this would allow the version number to stay in the About dialog — removing it right now seems indeed premature to me. People don’t trust the rapid release process yet and feel the need to double-check the version number.
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