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Re: Pet peeve about version numbers of Mathematica

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  • Subject: [mg128968] Re: Pet peeve about version numbers of Mathematica
  • From: John Fultz <jfultz at>
  • Date: Thu, 6 Dec 2012 04:57:33 -0500 (EST)
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Actually, in this case, a revision number would *not* have been free.  
If we had incremented the main version number of the product, it would 
have meant recompiling from source many of the binaries in the product 
to reflect that change.  Which would have in turn required significantly 
lengthening the test cycle.  Which means that we could have been waiting 
until close to the end of the week before delivering a patched installer 
in the best case scenario, even though the only change we really wished 
to make was to the installer.

The installer build went through our automated build system, produced a 
complete log of the build, and was assigned a unique build number.  That 
build number is available in SystemInformation[], since that is recorded 
as a simple text file which is rolled up into the installer at the time 
the installer is built.  Additionally, we provide an MD5 hash, which was 
updated when we posted the new binary.

I'm guessing your engineers haven't actually looked at Mathematica.  I 
just checked, and the Windows version has nearly 20,000 file system 
entries (files and directories) in the installation.  It boggles the 
mind or my mind, wonder how any team of humans could keep 
track of 20,000 assets with tens of thousands of more source code files 
without proper version control and build systems.

John Fultz
jfultz at
User Interface Group
Wolfram Research, Inc.

On Dec 5, 2012, at 2:17 AM, "McHale, Paul" <Paul.McHale at> wrote:

> I recently installed Mathematica 9.0.0 and had the problems.  This was quit
> e unpleasant but I work with software people who understood.  Things happen
> .  They asked for specifics, I explained I upgraded from 8.0.4 to 9.0.0 and
> the problems were severe.  Uninstalled 9.0.0 and the problems were gone. 
> Explained about the problem as WRI explained it.  All is good.
> A few days later the "new release" is out.  Here is a conversation:
> Me>> So, the new release of Mathematica is out.  Should fix the problem.  Will probably upgrade next week.
> Software lead>> What is the new release number?
> Me>> 9.0.0
> Software Lead>> Wait (checks notes), OK, you mistakenly reported that as the problematic version.
> Me>> That is correct.
> Software Lead>> So you are changing windows to fix the problem?
> Me>> They updated the release package but did not increase the revision number.
> Software Lead>> If they are releasing two different items with the same reision number, what is their revision control?  More of a guideline? (Pirate
> of the Carribean)
> Industry standard is you have to release different things with different revision numbers.  As far as my boss is concerned, WRI appears to be non-programmers writing software.  Not because of testing or bugs. But because revision numbers are free.  Failure to follow propper version control sets off
> alerts that there may be greater issues below the surface.  Remember, my Mathematica copy competes with his C# programmers.  Revision control is not
> a trivial thing in defense engineering.  Instead, it is yet another metric.
> Paul McHale  |  Electrical Engineer, Energetics Systems  |  Excelit
> as Technologies Corp.
> Phone:   +1 937.865.3004   |   Fax:  +1 937.865.5170   |
>   Mobile:   +1 937.371.2828
> 1100 Vanguard Blvd, Miamisburg, Ohio 45342-0312 USA
> Paul.McHale at

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