How versions are treated is key to understanding any package manager, and ahkpm is no different.

ahkpm supports four types of versions.

  • Semantic versions such as 1.2.3
  • Tag versions such as tag:beta
  • Branch versions such as branch:develop
  • Commit versions such as commit:badcce14f8e828cda4d8ac404a12448700de1441

In addition, ahkpm supports the use of semantic version ranges rather than exact versions, but that is the subject of a separate article.

If you’re familiar with git, you’ve probably noticed that three of those version types map directly to concepts in git. In fact, because ahkpm uses git as the storage mechanism for packages, every version type maps to something in git, even semantic versions.

Semantic versions

Semantic versioning in general

The general concept of semantic versions is relatively simple. Semantic versioning is the convention of versioning software (especially libraries) by using three dot-separated numbers (e.g. 1.16.3), where each of those numbers represents a certain type of information.

The first number is the “major” version. The second is the “minor” version. And the third is called the “patch” version.

In other words, <major>.<minor>.<patch>.

Each of those numbers represents a change from the previous version. For example, suppose we have a newly released library that starts out at version 1.0.0 (the usual place to start).

If we find and fix a minor bug and publish a new version, semantic versioning specifies that we should increment the patch version, resulting in 1.0.1.

If we add a new feature in a way that doesn’t break any existing usage of the library, semantic versioning specifies that we should increment the minor version, as well as reset the patch version to zero, resulting in 1.1.0

If we change the behavior of the library in a way that breaks code using the current version, then according to semantic versioning, we should increment the major version, as well as reset the minor and patch versions to zero, resulting in 2.0.0.

Based on these three rules, it becomes relatively simple to tell whether a new version of a package is likely to break our code if we update. Thanks to these rules, it becomes possible to use version ranges to specify what versions of libraries are acceptable for us to use.

Semantic versioning does have a few more rules, but these cover the vast majority of cases.

Semantic versions in ahkpm

As mentioned previously, every type of version in ahkpm maps back to a concept in git. And semantic versions in particular map to tags.

Of course, not every git tag is a valid semantic version, but ahkpm when ahkpm attempts to find a semantic version, it does so by looking up the tags on the package’s git repository.

For example, if I attempt to install at version 1.0.0, ahkpm will check to see if that git repository has a tag matching 1.0.0. If it does, then the source code associated with that tag is what will be installed.

Whenever possible, specifying your desired version using a semantic version or semantic version range is preferred, because it leads to the greatest level of stability when making updates.

If you have specified an exact version number for a package, running ahkpm update <packageName> will have no effect. To get a new version you will need to run ahkpm install with a new version specifier.

Tag versions

Of course, you may want to install a package from a particular tag that isn’t a valid semantic version. For example, you might want to install the code from tag build-2022-12-25. To specify that version, all you need to do is write it as tag:build-2022-12-25.

Running ahkpm update <packageName> on a package using a tag version has no effect. To get a new version you will need to run ahkpm install with a new version specifier.

Commit versions

Commit versions work similarly to tag versions, but allow referencing specific commit IDs by using the commit: prefix. For example: commit:badcce14f8e828cda4d8ac404a12448700de1441.

Running ahkpm update <packageName> on a package using a commit version has no effect. To get a new version you will need to run ahkpm install with a new version specifier.

Branch versions

Branch versions also work similarly, but use the branch: prefix. For example: branch:beta.

However, unlike exact semantic versions, tag versions, and commit version, if you use a branch version, running ahkpm update <packageName> will result in getting the latest code on that branch. And because it has no mechanism for checking the compatibility of the package’s code, it may result in breakage.

As a result, using branch versions is not recommended unless you are very closely monitory the packages changes on this branch. However, it can be very useful if you are.