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Glossary

Application Versions

Application versions refer to distinct releases or iterations of a software application, each representing a specific stage of development or enhancement. These versions typically feature updates, bug fixes, and new features, and are identified by unique version numbers or names.

What is an Application Version?

Application versions refer to different iterations or releases of a software application, each representing a distinct stage in its development or improvement. These versions are typically denoted by numbers or names and are accompanied by updates, enhancements, or bug fixes, aimed at improving functionality, security, or user experience.

Key Terminology:

  • Version Numbering: Application versions are often identified by numerical values, such as 1.3.1, 2.1.4, etc., where changes in the integer values indicate significant updates or milestones. Sometimes, additional decimals or alphanumeric characters are used to signify minor updates or patches.
  • Major Version: The primary digit in a version number denotes a major version, which usually signifies substantial changes or additions to the application, potentially altering its core functionality or user interface. Changes at this level may contain “breaking changes” which require re-coding systems that interface this application, unless backward compatibility is explicitly promised.
  • Minor Version: The secondary digit in a version number represents a minor version, indicating smaller updates, feature enhancements, or bug fixes that do not drastically alter the application’s fundamental features. Changes at this level may also contain “breaking changes” depending on the publisher’s guidance.
  • Patch Version: Also known as a maintenance release or patch, this component of a version number typically appears after the second or later decimal point. Patch versions are primarily focused on fixing bugs, improving stability, or addressing security vulnerabilities without introducing new features. Patch versions should never contain “breaking changes” since patches are meant to be applied with urgency to maintain desired functionality.
  • Beta Version: Before an application’s official release, developers may distribute beta versions to a select group of users for testing purposes. Beta versions allow for feedback collection and bug identification prior to a wider release.
  • Alpha Version: An alpha version represents an early stage in the development process where the application may lack many features and may be unstable. It is typically distributed to a limited audience, including internal testers or developers.
  • Release Candidate (RC): A release candidate is a version of the application that is close to being finalized for public release. It undergoes rigorous testing to identify any remaining issues before the official launch.
  • Stable Release: A stable release, also referred to as a production release, is a version of the application that has passed testing and is deemed suitable for widespread use by end-users.
  • Changelog: A changelog is a document or list that accompanies each new version release, detailing the specific changes, additions, or fixes implemented in that version.

Usage:

Understanding application versions is crucial for users, developers, and IT professionals alike, as it helps in tracking software updates, managing compatibility, and ensuring optimal performance and security of the applications they use or support. By staying informed about version releases and their respective changes, stakeholders can make informed decisions about when to upgrade, troubleshoot issues, or seek support.

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