Posts Tagged 'FLOSS'

Software version numbering inflation comes to Firefox

It happens regularly and it happens in some of the best families developer communities. At some point there is a change in the version numbering scheme. The most recent such headline is “Mozilla Switches Firefox to 18-Week Development Cycle; Firefox 5 Expected June 21”. And in the article we read “speeding up the development cycle for Firefox releases”. While I suspect that the motivation behind the move is “not to fall behind” in some sense, whether or not the project runs on an 18-week (or other) development cycle has absolutely no impact on the speed of the development cycle, merely on the number of releases. Just like reading the KM/h scale instead of the MPH scale of the speedometer does not change the speed at which I travel.

Firefox releases
version date development time
0.1 September 23, 2002
1.0 November 9, 2004 779
2.0 October 24, 2006 715
3.0 June 17, 2008 603
4.0 March 22, 2011 1009
5.0 scheduled for
June 21, 2011 92

Other projects have made similar changes in the past. Interestingly, I have never seen a numbering scheme change to less frequent major version number changes.

In all the cases where I have seen this step taken in the past, it always left the impression that some marketing-oriented people in the respective project community are confusing cause and effect: it’s not by incrementing the major version number that you get substantial/fundamental development progress. It’s, of course, the other way around: after much development progress you find that the software has been entirely rewritten and that’s when you feel you have to change the major version number to reflect this. In my opinion this is one of the (and by far not the only) things that Linux kernel development gets right: version 2.0 is from 1996, 2.6 current, and there was lots of development progress…


Business Readiness Rating

One of the sources for evaluation templates for free/libre/open-source software (FLOSS). I will collect this and other resources here.

There is an empty
template for OpenOffice or for Microsoft Office.

The same web page also contains filled ratings for several sample applications. Observe that these were published in 2005…