What’s In a Version Number, Anyway?

  • Users don’t care about version numbers. Major, minor, alpha, beta, build number.. what does it all mean? What users might care about is knowing whether or not the software they’re running is current. A simple date is the most direct way to communicate this to the user.
  • A model year is easy to understand. Why should it take two arbitrary numbers and a decimal point to identify what software you’re using? We identify tons of consumer products using a simple model year designator. Software should be no different.
  • Version numbers don’t scale. Once you get beyond ten versions, what’s the point of meticulously counting every new release? Better to stamp it with a date and move on.
  • Take the year in which a project started. For Office “12”, that was 2003.
  • Call January of that year “Month 1.”
  • The first two digits of the build number are the number of months since “Month 1.”
  • The last two digits are the day of that month.
  1. the software generation (Office 97, Office XP, Office 2003, Office 2007), which is patently obvious to anyone using the software — and can be directly inferred from the build date anyway.
  2. the date of the build.
  3. the number of builds done after “code freeze”.



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Vahid Farahmandian

Vahid Farahmandian

Mainly a .Net #developer, sometimes #SQLServer admin, not yet a husband and specifically not a father. My LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/vfarahmandian/