When you open one of our reports you will see three different sections. At the top you will find our security section, that will tell you whether any of your components is potentially exposing your system to hacking due to known vulnerabilities. At the bottom, you will find our licensing section, that will tell you if any of your components are using a non-business friendly license. But what about the middle section, stability?
This is a concept which we’ve been working on for a while, and now it’s in its early stages. At the moment, in regards to a component, it’s basically an indication of how up to date it is. The stability report will provide you also with an upgrade path to any component your software is directly using, giving you the knowledge to move forward to the next version if you choose to. But is this advisable? Well, in general, yes, mainly because a new version usually includes bug fixes for issues you are not even aware of, performance enhancements and, of course, vulnerability fixes.
But should you always upgrade? And to the latest version? Well, the decision to upgrade has to be evaluated by the development team. For platforms using semantic versioning (the mast majority on the planet these days), it’s usually considered safe to upgrade in certain conditions, but let’s pause for a moment to understand how this works.
A semantic version number is usually in the format MAJOR.MINOR.PATCH and each part can be independently incremented against the previous when:
- MAJOR: an incompatible API change has been implemented
- MINOR: a new functionality has been implemented but it’s backwards compatible
- PATCH: backward compatible bug fixes have been implemented
So for example version 2.5.3 means major 2, minor 5, patch 3. Following on the previous explanation. 2.5.4 is a patch release, 2.6.1 is a minor release and 3.0.0 is a major release.
We need to appreciate that these are all conventions, and may be overlooked sometimes! Some platforms have a more “creative” ways to think about minor releases, and that’s the reason we usually suggest that only a patch upgrade is safe. Even in that situation, you should always have your test automation, CI, and QA team to validate your release.
Is that all for stability? Well, for the time being, yes, but please stay tuned as we do have something else cooking in the area!