[openssl-project] Release strategy updates & other policies

Tim Hudson tjh at cryptsoft.com
Tue Sep 25 12:03:07 UTC 2018

On Tue, Sep 25, 2018 at 9:22 PM Matt Caswell <matt at openssl.org> wrote:

> Lets imagine we release version 5.0.0. We create a branch for it and
> declare a support period. Its an LTS release. This is a *stable*
> release, so we shouldn't de-stabilise it by adding new features.
> Later we do some work on some new features in master. They are backwards
> compatible in terms of API so we release it as version 5.1.0. Its got a
> separate support period to the LTS release.
> We fix some bugs in 5.0.0, and release the bug fixes as 5.0.1. All fine
> so far. But then we realise there is a missing accessor in it. Its an
> LTS release so its going to be around for a long time - we really need
> to add the accessor. But we *can't* do it!! Technically speaking,
> according to the rules of semantic versioning, that is a change to our
> API - so it needs to be released as a MINOR version change. That would
> make the new version 5.1.0....but we already used that number for our
> backwards compatible feature release!

And that is what semantic versioning is about - it is about the API.
So if you add to the API you change either MINOR or MAJOR.
In your scenario the moment you need to add an API you are doing a MINOR
release and if you already have a MINOR release under the MAJOR then you
need to add a MINOR on top of the latest MINOR that you have.
You don't get to make API changing releases that expand the API behind the
existing releases that are out there.

That is not how a semantically versioned project behaves.

The rules are strict for a reason to stop some of the practices that we
have - where PATCH releases add APIs.

Part of the precondition for a semantically versioned project is that the
API (and in this sense this is the public API) is under "control" as such.

I think there are very few circumstances under which we have needed to add
APIs - and I think outside of accessor functions during the opacity changes
- I don't know that there were any API additions that weren't actually
avoidable by solving the problem without adding an API. I don't know - I
haven't checked - but none leap to the front on mind. We have done that
simply because we didn't have a strict rule in place about API additions -
we do about changes or deletions - but we tend to view additions as
relatively safe (and they are from a backwards compatible perspective - but
they are not from a semantic versioning point of view).

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