[Distutils] Comparison semantics for alphanumeric components of a version number (was: Version comparison - round 2)

Ben Finney ben+python at benfinney.id.au
Fri Jun 5 11:19:39 CEST 2009

Tarek Ziadé <ziade.tarek at gmail.com> writes:

>   http://bitbucket.org/tarek/distutilsversion/src/tip/README.txt
> The goal here is to provide a version comparison standard to be
> included in Distutils.

I laud this goal, and thank you for soliciting feedback on this draft.

One thing I haven't seen discussed: Why have such baroque version
comparison semantics been accepted? Surely one of the overarching goals
for such a standard is that it be simple to comprehend, and to behave
unsurprisingly to most users.

Yet the discussion around these non-obvious semantics, trying to have
components interpreted as “pre-release” and “post-release” and
“development release” and so on seem to underline the fact that
they're *not* something that there's any consensus on. So why are they
being foisted into a standard for version strings?

Rather than trying to force non-alphanumeric comparison semantics for
alphabetic sequences, why not simply say that alphanumeric comparison
semantics apply for components? That would, at a stroke, end all this
turmoil and IMO futile seeking of some other consensus, when the best
consensus is already what most would expect: alphanumeric comparison.

At the least, I would expect there would need to be a demonstrated,
significantly unified consensus for some specific *other* semantic
before discarding straightforward alphanumeric comparison as the

 \           “Military justice is to justice what military music is to |
  `\                                             music.” —Groucho Marx |
_o__)                                                                  |
Ben Finney

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