Version number change

The current system

Since the beginning of the Instantbird project, we have released versions numbered 0.x.y.z:

  • 0. indicates that the initial goals of the project haven’t been reached yet.
  • x is the major version number. For example, Instantbird 0.2 was a major version for which we made very significant changes.
  • y is the minor version number, incremented when a release is very similar to the previous one, but with some new features. We released Instantbird 0.1.1, 0.1.2 and 0.1.3 which were minor new versions.
  • z was used only for emergency bugfix releases. For example we released a day after 0.1.2 because of a very common crash on Windows with some MSN accounts (not those we used during our testing of course). We also released Instantbird when Instantbird 0.1.3 was no longer able to connect to the ICQ network.

This version numbering scheme made a lot of sense when the project was initially a “XUL UI for Pidgin” and the goal was to reach “feature parity” with Pidgin for Instantbird 1.0. We have, however, supported features that Pidgin doesn’t have for a long time, thus defining the completion of Instantbird 1.0 as a comparison with Pidgin doesn’t make sense any more. Actually, our roadmap has stated for a long time already that the 1.0 goal is a “Simple, usable and extensible user interface.”

In addition to the 0.x.y.z version number, we are using “aN” and “bN” suffixes for alpha and beta releases (0.3b1 for example), so the version number in itself has nothing to do with stability (actually, our testers report that even our nightly builds are stable!). 0.<something> only means that we haven’t reached our initial goals, not that the version isn’t stable.

Received feedback

While linux enthusiasts are used to have great software with a not-yet-1.0 version number, on Windows a 0.* version number was a bit misleading and we received mostly 2 kinds of feedback about the version number:

  • Wow, I can’t believe it’s so stable and featureful with such a low version number!” (user who has downloaded and tested it)
  • Oh, it looks cool, but with such a low version number, it’s a pre-alpha, it can’t be stable, I’ll give it a try when it reaches 1.0.”

Disappointing, isn’t it? ;-)

One thought on “Version number change

  1. Good decision! I’ve been following this blog since the early days of the project, and in recent weeks there’s been some really interesting posts, and I’ve thought “wow, I want that! but isn’t Instantbird young and missing features all over the place?”

    I hope this works out for you. If nothing else, more competition (for Pidgin and Empathy) has to be a good thing in the “marketplace”.