On Version Numbers…

We will be changing version numbering of our products. Admitted, if we didn’t feel we have to do this, most probably we wouldn’t have cared at all.

For ASV, we started with version 1.0, in 2000. And major versions went like 2, 3, 4… We reserved .5 minor update for a somewhat very significant update and normally minor updates went like .01, .02, .03… Internal releases made us skip minor version numbers released and sometimes we increased the minor version to avoid confusion (People do confuse 5.1 and 5.01).

We synchronized ASV major versions with major Flash versions. ASV 1 supported Flash 4, ASV 2 supported Flash 5, ASV 3 supported Flash 6 (MX)… I personally liked this because it was straight forward and  it made things simple. But this was mostly because Flash major versions were synchronized with major Flash player versions (and so SWF versions). After all, you created Flash (SWF files) with Flash (the authoring tool). Why should there be a major player release if there’s no tool to support the new features? Then there was Flex… (Flash was not the only authoring tool that can support a new player anymore).

Frankly, I think we still would be reluctant to change the versioning, if ASV didn’t lag behind. We currently have ASV 6 ‘pre-release’ version. Again, the most important reason it’s called a pre-release is probably because we don’t have the documentation/help yet. Otherwise any release version is also bound to have bugs/issues or some missing features. Current ASV pre-release can even open SWF 10 content (found on the web), displays a warning about the version because it’s not supposed to support SWF version 10. And of course new Flash release is near and skipping version 6 of ASV, because it’s released as pre-release versions, doesn’t sound good.

I never liked other naming/versioning schemes… Windows 95, Office 98, MX, CS3, Flash MX 2004 (version 7 which was released in 2003 BTW)…

One thing was sure, we would never use arbitrary letters or acronyms as the major version designator. Using year or date was surely better and then the date actually meant something. If the software is clearly dated, you don’t need any other version numbers. The developer assigns the numbers anyway and there’s no standard (We did skip ASR versions 3 and 4 to align it with ASV version. Some developers use odd/even minor version numbers for unstable/stable builds, we never did that because we never have unstable builds. Some skip versions 4 and 13 because of superstitious reasons. There’s no standard really).

So, it’s ASV 2008… We ourselves hated the way it sounded first. But make no mistake, it won’t be deceptive like dates on magazines. I never got used to reading a mag dated into the future… So, let months be another number of the version, and the day another. If you have ASV 2008/10 that will mean it’s released in October 2008. In the about box, you will see a verbose version string like 2008/10.14, where 14 will mean the date of release.

We are losing the arbitrary version numbers, version number will be the time stamp. That’s our solution and we believe it’s superior to arbitrary numbering, cuts the confusion and has many other advantages to both the developer and the users.

We always made updates free, and charged for some upgrades. Since our version numbers depended on new release of Flash (and then we needed some time for supporting the new Flash), you never new exactly when there will be a new major version. And because it was not feasible for us to work on many versions, usually what happened was that we stopped working on a previous version and started working on the new version. Bug fixes and improvements even for earlier versions of SWF went into the new version, old version just stayed as it is… We did have a grace period but someone who purchased ASV when a new version released did get longer free upgrades than someone purchased just before the grace period (and received the next version as per our ‘next version upgrade free’ policy). In short, using dates lets us offer things like: ASV with 1 year of free updates, or ASV with 2 years of free updates. There will be no ‘upgrade’ in the normal sense, major version number will change from 2008 to 2009, when 2009 comes…

Is this new? Not really. And most software do need major version numbers to indicate milestone releases. Ours didn’t, we have realized. Our version number (which will be the date) will mean that the software is what we had at that date, nothing more, nothing less.

Do you want to purchase a copy of ASV and see this in action? :) You’ll have to wait till mid-October…

All the above is quite condensed, I can write a small chapter about this change. Let me finish by saying that we will never inconvenience our current customers, they will get what we have promised at the time of their purchase and maybe some more because we would be cautious (rather than err) about this.

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