Versioning schemes

The Package ID, version number, and package format uniquely identify your packages, so it’s important to choose the right versioning scheme, but it can be a tricky balance between pragmatism and strictness. This page should help you understand how Octopus Deploy handles versions in packages, releases, and channels, which will help you design a versioning scheme that suits your needs.

Choosing a versioning scheme

The technology you’re working with will, in some cases, determine the type of versioning scheme you choose. We recommend using Semantic Versioning for your applications, unless you are deploying artifacts to a Maven repository, in which case, you need to use Maven Versions.

Consider the following factors when deciding on the versioning scheme you’ll use for your applications and packages:

  1. Can you trace a version back to the commit/check-in the application/package was built from?

For example: We stamp the SHA hash of the git commit into the metadata component of the Semantic Version for Octopus Deploy which makes it easier to find and fix bugs. We also tag the commit with the version of Octopus Deploy it produced so you can quickly determine which commit produced a particular version of Octopus Deploy.

  1. Can your users easily report a version to the development team that supports #1?
  2. Will your version numbers be confusing, or will they help people understand the changes that have been made to the software?

For example: bumping a major version component (first part) means there are potentially breaking changes, but bumping a patch (3rd part) should be safe to upgrade, and safe to rollback if something goes wrong.

  1. Does your tool chain support the versioning scheme?

Octopus supports Semantic Versioning, which enables enhanced features like Channels.


Octopus supports Semantic Versioning 2.0.0 with version numbers constructed in the following way:


For instance:


Octopus supports a pragmatic implementation of SemVer, including support for 4-digit versions:

Octopus also supports versions that can be sorted alphanumerically:


In strict SemVer 2.0, a version like 1.5.2-rc.1 is considered a pre-release, and 1.5.2 is considered a full release.

When it comes to application versioning, we suggest the pre-release tag (the bit after the -) can be used however works best for you. For example, you could build version 1.5.2-rc of your application and configure a Channel to promote packages like *-rc to Staging and eventually Production.

If you are using the Deployment Notes features, note that pre-releases are handled differently to other releases by that feature and you may need to take that into consideration in your versioning strategy.

Learn more about Semantic Version at

How Octopus Deploy treats semantic versions

Octopus uses a string-based approach to version numbers. These are the decisions we made on handling versions:

  1. Validity: A version string will be considered valid if it is strictly complaint with SemVer 1.0, SemVer 2.0, or Octopus’s pragmatic 4-digit version of SemVer.

  2. Comparisons: Versions will be compared using the “semantic” value: a. Equality: Two versions will be considered to be equal if they are semantically equivalent. For instance:

     i. ` == 1.0.0`  
     i. `2016.01.02 == 2016.1.2 == 2016.01.2`  

    a. Ordering: Versions will be sorted semantically. For instance:

     i. `1.4.10 > 1.4.9`  
     i. `3.0.0-beta.10 > 3.0.0-beta.9`  
     i. `1.4.008 < 1.4.9`  
  3. Package Feeds: Octopus asks the feed for a package with the version string stored in the release, and accepts what the feed provides.

Maven versions

Maven versions are used by Octopus when an artifact is sourced from an external Maven feed. SemVer is still required when versioning any artifact to be deployed to the built-in library or an external NuGet feeds, and the only time to use the Maven versioning scheme over SemVer is when you are deploying artifacts to a Maven repository.

The Maven versioning scheme is implemented as a copy of the ComparableVersion class from the Maven library itself.

Maven version strings have 5 parts:

  • Major
  • Minor
  • Patch
  • Build number
  • Qualifier

The Major, Minor, Patch, and Build number are all integer values.

The Qualifier can hold any value, although some qualifiers have special meanings and an associated order of precedence as follows:

  • alpha or a
  • beta or b
  • milestone or m
  • rc or cr
  • snapshot
  • (the empty string) or ga or final
  • sp

Qualifiers are case insensitive, and some of the qualifiers have shorthand aliases, for instance, alpha and a. If you use an alias it must include a number, for instance, a1. If you do not include a number after the alias, it will be treated as an unrecognized qualifier which will be compared as a case insensitive string after the qualified versions.

Where version stings cannot be parsed as and the qualifier is not recognized, the entire string is considered a qualifier.

A dash or a period can be used to separate Major, Minor, Patch, and Build, however, using a separator between the last digit and the qualifier is optional.

For an in-depth look at Maven versions, see the blog post Maven Versions Explained.

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Page updated on Sunday, January 1, 2023