Explained: Version numbers of software, plugins and themes

Everytime you update a plugin, theme or website software like WordPress or Joomla!, you will see a version number like this: Joomla! 4.3.4.

Turns out, a semantic version number will tell you exactly, what kind of release you are looking at. This can be a patch or bugfix, a minor feature release or a major release with significant changes.

Let’s take a recent Joomla! release as an example:


semantic_versioning_joomla-enJoomla! 3.4.3

Semantic versioning means, that the position of a number is linked to a specific meaning:

  1. Position 1 stands for a MAJOR release with new features, structures, ideas and architecture. Some changes, API-changes for example, might break backwards-compatibility.
  2. Position 2 stands for a MINOR release that contains new features and improvements that must be backwards-compatible.
  3. Position 3 stands for a PATCH release that can contain bugfixes and security updates that must be backwards-compatible as well.

A PATCH release would look something like this: Old version: Joomla! 3.4.3 -> New version: Joomla 3.4.4.

From a developer perspective, semantic versioning helps you deal with dependencies more efficiently when working on larger projects. It also makes communicating changes to your users more transparent.

Learn more about the specification and benefits of semantic versioning on semver.org.

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