Versioning approach

ScanCode is composed of code and data (mostly license data used for license detection). In the past, we have tried using calver for code versioning to also convey that the data contained in ScanCode was updated but it proved to be not as clear and as effective as planned so we are switching back to semver which is simpler and overall more useful for users. We also want to provide hints about JSON output data format changes.

Therefore, this is our versioning approach starting with version 30.0.0:

  • ScanCode releases are versioned using semver as documented at using major.minor.patch versioning.

  • Significant changes to the data (license or copyright detection) is considered a major version change even if there are no code changes. The rationale is that in our case the data has the same impact as the code. Using outdated data is like using old code and means that several licenses may not be detected correctly. Any data change triggers at least a minor version change.

  • We will signal separately to users with warnings messages when ScanCode needs to be upgraded because its data and/or code are out of date.

In addition to the main code version, we also maintain a secondary output data format version using also semver with two segments. The versioning approach is adapted for data this way:

  • The first segment –the major version– is incremented when data attributes that are removed, renamed, changed or moved (but not reordered) in the JSON output. Reordering the attributes of a JSON object is not considered as a change and does not trigger a version change.

  • The second segment –the minor version– of the output format is incremented for an addition of attributes to the JSON output.

  • We store the output format version string in the JSON output object as the first attribute and display that also in the help.

  • This output format versioning applies only to the JSON, pretty-printed JSON, YAML and JSON lines formats. It does not apply to CSV and any other formats. For these other formats there is no versioning and guaranteed format stability (or there may be some other rationale and convention for versioning like for SPDX).

  • The output format version is incremented by when a new ScanCode tagged release is published

  • We document in the CHANGELOG the output format changes in any new format version.

  • For any format version changes, we will provide a documentation on the format and its updates using JSON examples and a comprehensive and updated data dictionary. See for details.