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From Henrik Martin <>
Subject Re: Remove Version from File Names in Distributions; Add Manifest
Date Tue, 28 Jul 2015 21:47:00 GMT

On 7/28/15 12:08 PM, Steve Amerige wrote:
> Hi Henrik,
> In most instances, version numbers aren't part of filenames. Consider 
> executables.  For example, OS commands such as 'ls' aren't ls-1.1.  
> Scripts are written to depend on resources with constant naming.  The 
> same applies to jar files.  Code can be written to use standardized 
> filenames and can be depended upon to work even when jar files are 
> updated.  In Linux, the /alternatives /command is one way of managing 
> versioning.  And, there are plenty of other approaches to versioning.  
> For jars, the is a common (and standard) place to set 
> package version information 
> <>.
Hi Steve. Agreed that executables are rarely versioned. But, a jar file 
is an archive (more similar to a file/directory bundle), and not much 
different from your versioned tar file example in your first email 
(httpd-2.4.16.tar.gz). And in order to examine a manifest file, the 
archive has to be unzipped first, which adds an extra step. As I 
mentioned in my other email, the default behavior of Maven and Gradle is 
to version artifacts. Like it or not, but it *is* the industry standard, 
and has been for a long time.
> In modern deployment environments such as cloud computing, in 
> particular, the notion of version is not as relevant as it used to 
> be.  Customers do not think of what version software is in the cloud.  
> It is the application that is undergoing continuous, agile, modification.
Version numbers are of course of limited interest to the consumers of 
cloud services/apps. I for sure don't care which version of Facebook I'm 
using. But for the Facebook developers, it's absolutely crucial to know 
which version is deployed. A company I've done work for recently had a 
system glitch *precisely* because an older version of a jar file 
happened to make it into a production deployment. It took hours of 
debugging to determine the cause of the glitch, something that would 
have been immediately avoided if the jar file name had contained the 
> Having version numbers as part of filenames breaks the use of these 
> files as reusable components.
I don't see how. foo-1.jar and foo-2.jar aren't the same thing. Sure, 
they may only differ slightly, but I don't see how being explicit breaks 
things. The common way of dealing with dependencies is to be explicit 
about the versioning. I.e. in my build system, I usually express 
specifically which version of every single dependency I'm using (in the 
case where it's relevant).
> The issue of binary, source code, and behavioral compatibility is 
> important.  As long as contracts are preserved, all is well.  In any 
> event, a version number is a very weak indicator and cannot be relied 
> on to determine compatibility.
Why is versioning a "weak indicator"?
> Thorough testing before deploying code that relies on updated jar 
> files is important.
Of course, but sometimes it's advantageous to have a simple mechanism 
for determining this long after deployment. Sure, I can always open the 
archive and examine the manifest, but that's pretty tedious, especially 
in applications that may depend on hundreds of jar archives.
> And, from a security perspective, we're looking at standardized 
> filenames and testing them against various exploits.  It is better to 
> have a relatively unchanging set of names that we can run checks 
> against to determine what they are by checksums, etc.  Security is 
> becoming a bigger and bigger concern, and efforts should be made to 
> have consistent filenames across releases so that changes are more 
> readily identifiable.
OK, one additional argument for being explicit and keep the versioning 
in the name :-)
> From at IT perspective, changes are pushed out to developers to ensure 
> that they're developing into standardized environments.  We're 
> essentially doing at least the following as a workaround:
>     VERSION=2.4.4
>     cd /usr/local
>     rm -rf groovy-$VERSIONgroovy
>     unzip -q /network/path/to/apache-groovy-sdk-$
>     ln -s groovy-$VERSION groovy
>     cd groovy-$VERSION
> find . -name "*-$VERSION*" | while read FILENAME ; do
>     STANDARD_NAME=$(echo "$FILENAME" | sed "s/-$VERSION//")
>     done
This seems like a lot of extra work to me, and if you need portability 
across OS flavors/versions, this is certainly a big hassle. Many 
companies have developers on multiple platforms (Windows, MacOS, Linux, 
...). Managing scripts, symlinks, and renaming files is a sure way to 
create a lot of headaches in a heterogeneous environment. Why are you 
not relying on the build system to provide the correct versions of your 
dependencies? You could set up a local Archiva server or similar to 
serve up the jar files that have been approved and security tested. 
Maybe your requirements are different than most shops, but it seems like 
a lot of extra work and a pretty brittle system to do what you showed 
above. Why not drive this through Maven or Gradle, and integrate that 
with your SCM system? Most project I've worked on in the last few years 
make sure all build dependencies are explicitly expressed in a pom.xml 
or build.gradle file. When a developer checks out the latest revision 
from the SCM and runs a build, he/she will have the exact same 
dependencies as all the other developers. No need for mucking around 
with unzipping archives, renaming files, creating symlinks, etc.
> Note that the above isn't perfect as the internal components of the 
> zip archive include other jar files with version numbers other than 
> the Groovy version number.  One could remove version numbers from all 
> files.  It's merely used for illustration and shouldn't be used in any 
> production environment.
> Apache's own HTTP <> or Tomcat 
> <> code that doesn't use 
> filenames with embedded version numbers; however, counter examples 
> include Hadoop <> and Lucene 
> <> that do use version numbering in 
> filenames.  So, it is clear that this is an area that has not been 
> standardized with the ASF.  Perhaps the Apache folks can chime in on this.
Well, if you pull your Apache jar dependencies from a Maven/Ivy repo, 
all artifacts are versioned, so I'm not sure what the benefit is of 
doing it the Tomcat way. I think it has more to do with the fact that 
Tomcat is a very old product, and it's just legacy packaging. I would 
applaud if the jars distributed with Tomcat were versioned just like the 
Maven/Ivy artifacts.
> We continue to assert that having version numbers, or other metadata, 
> as a part of filenames is a bad practice.  We do have workarounds in 
> place, but think it would benefit the community to consider this change.
And I continue to assert the opposite :-)
The habit of renaming archives as in your script snippet above is 
especially bad practice if you ask me. I'll give you another interesting 
use case where versioning info in the file name is handy. Have you ever 
happened to be in a situation where an app fails or starts behaving 
strange because of a duplicate jar file name with a different version 
happen to end up on the classpath? It's a lot quicker to figure this out 
when immediately noticing that the jar file name contains two different 
versions. Example classpath:

/usr/local/foo/foo.jar:...<gazillion other classpath entries 
here>...:/opt/foo/foo.jar:...<gazillion other classpath entries here>...

To figure out the versions of the duplicate foo.jar archives, I have to 
unzip them and examine the manifest. If the version is already in the 
file name, it would have been immediately obvious.
> Enjoy,
> Steve Amerige
> Principal Software Developer, Fraud and Compliance Solutions Development
> SAS Institute, 100 SAS Campus Dr, Room U3050, Cary, NC 27513-8617

> On 7/28/2015 10:38 AM, Henrik Martin wrote:
>> I'm not part of the contributor team, so I can't speak for the Groovy 
>> team, but I would strongly disagree with you. If you use Maven or 
>> Gradle, it's easy to maintain dependencies on particular versions of 
>> jar files, and have your IDE immediately pick up the new version. In 
>> fact, the default behavior for both Maven and Gradle is to explicitly 
>> maintain version numbers in artifacts. Removing this would be a step 
>> back to the 90s. Sometimes jar files have to copied into other 
>> directories outside of their normal home. An example is when 
>> deploying Tomcat. Stuff like jdbc drivers etc typically get copied 
>> into $CATALINA_BASE/lib. It's worth gold to immediately be able to 
>> tell which particular version of those jar files are in there, vs 
>> just seeing "foobar.jar".
>> I would argue that you should probably change the practice of 
>> creating symlinks to explicitly versioned jar files as this is 
>> obviously a pain when new versions are introduced.
>> Just my $0.02.
>> -H
>> On 7/28/15 5:26 AM, Steve Amerige wrote:
>>> Hi all,
>>> Every time we take a download of the latest Groovy software, we have 
>>> to do the same task: remove version numbers from filenames.  As of 
>>> the 2.4.4 release, there are 39 files, shown below, that have the 
>>> version number as part of the distribution.  So, why is this a problem?
>>>   * IDEs cannot silently be updated to use a mandated Groovy
>>>     version.  With 2.4.4 dealing with a zero-day vulnerability
>>>     issue, we want to push this out.  However, the version numbers
>>>     in files mean that users must participate in the updating.  This
>>>     is not desirable.
>>>   * Links that users might have at the OS level are broken with each
>>>     new release.
>>>   * Version numbers in files makes it more difficult to diff between
>>>     releases.
>>>   * Version numbers as a part of a filename is a specific case of
>>>     metadata as part of filenames and, as such, we consider it to be
>>>     a bad practice.  This information is better kept in a file,
>>>     preferably machine readable in a format such as JSON or XML, or
>>>     in manifest files that can be consumed by software that might do
>>>     version number validation as part of security efforts in
>>>     maintaining code.
>>> It is reasonable that the root directory include a version number.  
>>> But, under that directory, we'd expect that the contents are 
>>> version-less. A good example of a version-less Apache project is the 
>>> HTTP Server <>. The download is 
>>> presently a file named *httpd-2.4.16.tar.gz*, and when extracted 
>>> produces a top-level directory named *httpd-2.4.16*. No file name 
>>> contains the version number string.  The two files *CHANGES *and 
>>> *httpd.spec *contain the version number string.  I believe that 
>>> Groovy should follow this example, and possibly go one step better 
>>> by having an explicit manifest file with all pertinent metadata for 
>>> the Groovy release that includes metadata such as the version 
>>> number, license name, checksums of files (for security checking), etc.
>>> If you agree, how can we start the process of making this change?
>>> Thanks,
>>> Steve Amerige
>>> Principal Software Developer, Fraud and Compliance Solutions Development
>>> SAS Institute, 100 SAS Campus Dr, Room U3050, Cary, NC 27513-8617
>>> ./lib/groovy-sql-2.4.4.jar
>>> ./lib/groovy-testng-2.4.4.jar
>>> ./lib/groovy-jsr223-2.4.4.jar
>>> ./lib/groovy-servlet-2.4.4.jar
>>> ./lib/groovy-json-2.4.4.jar
>>> ./lib/groovy-jmx-2.4.4.jar
>>> ./lib/groovy-test-2.4.4.jar
>>> ./lib/groovy-bsf-2.4.4.jar
>>> ./lib/groovy-groovydoc-2.4.4.jar
>>> ./lib/groovy-nio-2.4.4.jar
>>> ./lib/groovy-console-2.4.4.jar
>>> ./lib/groovy-xml-2.4.4.jar
>>> ./lib/groovy-ant-2.4.4.jar
>>> ./lib/groovy-docgenerator-2.4.4.jar
>>> ./lib/groovy-groovysh-2.4.4.jar
>>> ./lib/groovy-templates-2.4.4.jar
>>> ./lib/groovy-swing-2.4.4.jar
>>> ./lib/groovy-2.4.4.jar
>>> ./
>>> ./embeddable/groovy-all-2.4.4-indy.jar
>>> ./embeddable/groovy-all-2.4.4.jar
>>> ./indy/groovy-json-2.4.4-indy.jar
>>> ./indy/groovy-console-2.4.4-indy.jar
>>> ./indy/groovy-2.4.4-indy.jar
>>> ./indy/groovy-sql-2.4.4-indy.jar
>>> ./indy/groovy-jmx-2.4.4-indy.jar
>>> ./indy/groovy-servlet-2.4.4-indy.jar
>>> ./indy/groovy-xml-2.4.4-indy.jar
>>> ./indy/groovy-swing-2.4.4-indy.jar
>>> ./indy/groovy-templates-2.4.4-indy.jar
>>> ./indy/groovy-ant-2.4.4-indy.jar
>>> ./indy/groovy-groovydoc-2.4.4-indy.jar
>>> ./indy/groovy-nio-2.4.4-indy.jar
>>> ./indy/groovy-test-2.4.4-indy.jar
>>> ./indy/groovy-testng-2.4.4-indy.jar
>>> ./indy/groovy-groovysh-2.4.4-indy.jar
>>> ./indy/groovy-docgenerator-2.4.4-indy.jar
>>> ./indy/groovy-bsf-2.4.4-indy.jar
>>> ./indy/groovy-jsr223-2.4.4-indy.jar

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