Release Versioning

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Release Versioning is the process of assigning version numbers to software releases. Versioning helps manage the project in four ways. First, it allows us to refer to a particular state of the source code using friendly names, like Crypto++ 5.6.2 rather than a check-in number like R541. Second, it helps convey significance to a unique state of the software in time. Third, it helps locate a previous software state in source control, if needed. Fourth, it helps convey information about ABI and API compatibility.

This pages discusses how the project names a version of Crypto++, what to expect when a version number changes, and how to locate a particular state of the source code in Subversion or Git. The page also provides a brief history of releases. A related topic is Release Testing, and what it takes to release a version of Crypto++.

There is no definitive guide on versioning requirements, but it is important to follow best practices when a change occurs. The version number assigned to a release often conveys information on both ABI and API compatibility. Best practices often attempt to capture client compatibility requirements, especially in the context of shared objects and dynamic linking.

Header files with definitions and inlined functions makes consistent versioning a challenge because the library attempts to respect requirements on a number of different platforms. Each platform, like Debian and Apple, has its own expectation of what changes when a number is incremented or bumped. Some distributions, like Debian, will also monitor source control for a tagged release event and then automatically kick-off an update. Since its an automatic process, care must be taken to avoid problems for down stream.

Currently there is no process to evaluate the effects of changing source code on the ABI or API. The project does not use an ABI tracker in order to automate binary compatibility analysis. The project would like to add it in the future.

A history of library releases can be found at Library Releases.


Crypto++ historically utilizes a naming scheme consisting of the CRYPTOPP prefix and monotonically increasing version numbers. The version information consists of Major, Minor, and an optional Patch Level. Each part of the name is separated with an underscore or _. An example is CRYPTOPP_8_3_0.

The library does not use the 4th tuple, sometimes called Revision Level, and it does not use letters like a or b. In addition, the library does not use an odd/even scheme. Finally, the library does not name release candidates.

Major and Minor

The major version is incremented when a breaking change occurs. This change may break API and ABI compatibility, and sometimes requires clients to recompile to fix compile errors because of changes in the library. For example, if a base interface changes, then it will likely require client code to change to adhere to the new specification.

A number of changes can occur at this time, and they include:

  • symbols added or removed
  • static variables added or removed
  • function signatures added or removed
  • class members added or removed
  • object binary layout changes
  • object vtables changes

The minor version is incremented when new functionality is added to the library. This change attempts to retain API compatibility, but may break ABI compatibility in a manner. This change should not not break clients using public interfaces.

An example of a minor break to the ABI is adding symbols to an existing class (as opposed to adding a new class). When symbols are added to the existing class, symbols within the scope of the class change and the vtable may change. RDRAND and RDSEED cause a minor ABI break in the CPU class because it added two symbols (g_hasRDRAND and g_hasRDSEED) and two functions (HasRDRAND() and HasRDSEED()).

Post-Release Increment

After releasing the library the project's version should be bumped. For example, if Crypto++ 5.6.4 was released, then the compatibility number should be changed from 4 to 5 in in 5.6.5. And if Crypto++ 5.7.0 was released, then the version should be changed to 5.7.1.

This change helps with user questions that start with "I'm using Crypto++ 5.6.3 and I'm having problems with ...". When the project encounters the question, its unclear if its the 5.6.3 release ZIP, or Master without the next version bump. The change also helps determine the actual compatibility level during development. That is, if Master advertises version information X.Y.Z, then it better be compatible with X.Y.

Its also OK to release under a more appropriate version number. For example, the following is perfectly valid: release 5.6.3, bump to 5.6.4 during development, and then release 5.7.0. In this case version information is monotonically increasing, and there is no confusion or disambiguation needed.

The locations of version numbers are:

  • config.h and CRYPTOPP_VERSION
  • cryptlib.h and Doxygen comment
  • cryptopp.rc and VERSION_INFO block
  • GNUmakefile and libcryptopp.pc recipe
  • Doxyfile and PROJECT_NUMBER
  • Readme.txt and version number
  • in TestScripts
  • in TestScripts

Also see the discussion Post-release version number increment on the user mailing list.

File Changes

Distributions must often maintain a list of files to include in a DEB, RPM or other package. The following will list files added and removed between tagged releases:

$ git clone cryptopp
$ cd cryptopp
$ git diff-tree -r --summary CRYPTOPP_5_6_2 CRYPTOPP_5_6_3 | grep -v "change"
 create mode 100644 Filelist.txt
 create mode 100755 GNUmakefile-cross
 create mode 100644 Install.txt
 create mode 100644 TestVectors/hkdf.txt
 create mode 100644 config.recommend
 create mode 100755
 create mode 100644 hkdf.h
 create mode 100755 make-rdrand.cmd
 create mode 100644 mersenne.h
 create mode 100755 rdrand-masm.cmd
 create mode 100755
 create mode 100644 rdrand.S
 create mode 100644 rdrand.asm
 create mode 100644 rdrand.cpp
 create mode 100644 rdrand.h
 create mode 100644 trap.h
 create mode 100644

Thanks to CJM on the Unix & Linux Stack Exchnage for the suggestion.