man version () - Perl extension for Version Objects


version - Perl extension for Version Objects


  use version;
  $version = version->new("12.2.1"); # must be quoted for Perl < 5.8.1
  print $version;               # v12.2.1
  print $version->numify;       # 12.002001
  if ( $version gt "12.2" )     # true

  $alphaver = version->new("1.02_03"); # must be quoted!
  print $alphaver;              # 1.02_0300
  print $alphaver->is_alpha();  # true

  $ver = qv("1.2.0");           # v1.2.0

  $perlver = version->new(5.005_03); # must not be quoted!
  print $perlver;               # 5.005030


Overloaded version objects for all versions of Perl. This module implements all of the features of version objects which will be part of Perl 5.10.0.


If you intend for your module to be used by different releases of Perl, and/or for your CW$VERSION scalar to mean what you think it means, there are a few simple rules to follow:

* Be consistent
Whichever of the two types of version objects that you choose to employ, you should stick to either Numeric Versions or Extended Versions and not mix them together. While this is possible, it is very confusing to the average user. If you intend to use Extended Versions, you are strongly encouraged to use the qv() operator with a quoted term, e.g.:
  use version; our $VERSION = qv("1.2.3");
on a single line as above. At the very least, decide on which of the several ways to initialize your version objects you prefer and stick with it. It is also best to be explicit about what value you intend to assign your version object and to not rely on hidden behavior of the parser.
* Be careful
If you are using Module::Build or ExtUtils::MakeMaker, so that you can release your module to CPAN, you have to recognize that neither of those programs completely handles version objects natively (yet). If you use version objects with Module::Build, you should add an explicit dependency to the release of in your Build.PL:
  my $builder = Module::Build->new(
     requires => {
         ... ,
         'version'    => 0.50,
and it should Just Work(TM). Module::Build will [hopefully soon] include full support for version objects; there are no current plans to patch ExtUtils::MakeMaker to support version objects.

What IS a version

For the purposes of this module, a version number is a sequence of positive integer values separated by one or more decimal points and optionally a single underscore. This corresponds to what Perl itself uses for a version, as well as extending the version as number that is discussed in the various editions of the Camel book. There are actually two distinct kinds of version objects:

* Numeric Versions
Any initial parameter which looks like a number, see Numeric Versions. This also covers versions with a single decimal point and a single embedded underscore, see Numeric Alpha Versions, even though these must be quoted to preserve the underscore formatting.
* Extended Versions
Any initial parameter which contains more than one decimal point and an optional embedded underscore, see Extended Versions. This is what is commonly used in most open source software as the external version (the one used as part of the tag or tarfile name). The use of the exported qv() function also produces this kind of version object. Both of these methods will produce similar version objects, in that the default stringification will yield the version Normal Form only if required:
  $v  = version->new(1.002);     # 1.002, but compares like 1.2.0
  $v  = version->new(1.002003);  # 1.002003
  $v2 = version->new( "1.2.3");  # v1.2.3
In specific, version numbers initialized as Numeric Versions will stringify in Numeric form. Version numbers initialized as Extended Versions will be stringified as Normal Form.

Numeric Versions

These correspond to historical versions of Perl itself prior to 5.6.0, as well as all other modules which follow the Camel rules for the CW$VERSION scalar. A numeric version is initialized with what looks like a floating point number. Leading zeros are significant and trailing zeros are implied so that a minimum of three places is maintained between subversions. What this means is that any subversion (digits to the right of the decimal place) that contains less than three digits will have trailing zeros added to make up the difference, but only for purposes of comparison with other version objects. For example:

                                   # Prints     Equivalent to  
  $v = version->new(      1.2);    # 1.200      v1.200.0
  $v = version->new(     1.02);    # 1.020      v1.20.0
  $v = version->new(    1.002);    # 1.002      v1.2.0
  $v = version->new(   1.0023);    # 1.002300   v1.2.300
  $v = version->new(  1.00203);    # 1.002030   v1.2.30
  $v = version->new( 1.002003);    # 1.002003   v1.2.3
All of the preceding examples are true whether or not the input value is quoted. The important feature is that the input value contains only a single decimal. See also Alpha Versions for how to handle IMPORTANT NOTE: As shown above, if your numeric version contains more than 3 significant digits after the decimal place, it will be split on each multiple of 3, so 1.0003 is equivalent to v1.0.300, due to the need to remain compatible with Perl's own 5.005_03 == 5.5.30 interpretation. Any trailing zeros are ignored for mathematical comparison purposes.

Extended Versions

These are the newest form of versions, and correspond to Perl's own version style beginning with 5.6.0. Starting with Perl 5.10.0, and most likely Perl 6, this is likely to be the preferred form. This method normally requires that the input parameter be quoted, although Perl's after 5.8.1 can use v-strings as a special form of quoting, but this is highly discouraged. Unlike Numeric Versions, Extended Versions have more than a single decimal point, e.g.:

                                   # Prints
  $v = version->new( "v1.200");    # v1.200.0
  $v = version->new("v1.20.0");    # v1.20.0
  $v = qv("v1.2.3);                # v1.2.3
  $v = qv("1.2.3");                # v1.2.3
  $v = qv("1.20");                 # v1.20.0
In general, Extended Versions permit the greatest amount of freedom to specify a version, whereas Numeric Versions enforce a certain uniformity. See also New Operator for an additional method of initializing version objects. Just like Numeric Versions, Extended Versions can be used as Alpha Versions.

Numeric Alpha Versions

The one time that a numeric version must be quoted is when a alpha form is used with an otherwise numeric version (i.e. a single decimal point). This is commonly used for CPAN releases, where CPAN or CPANPLUS will ignore alpha versions for automatic updating purposes. Since some developers have used only two significant decimal places for their non-alpha releases, the version object will automatically take that into account if the initializer is quoted. For example Module::Example was released to CPAN with the following sequence of CW$VERSION's:

  # $VERSION    Stringified
  0.01          0.010
  0.02          0.020
  0.02_01       0.02_0100
  0.02_02       0.02_0200
  0.03          0.030
As you can see, the version object created from the values in the first column may contain a trailing 0, but will otherwise be both mathematically equivalent and sorts alpha-numerically as would be expected.

Object Methods

Overloading has been used with version objects to provide a natural interface for their use. All mathematical operations are forbidden, since they don't make any sense for base version objects.

* New Operator
Like all OO interfaces, the new() operator is used to initialize version objects. One way to increment versions when programming is to use the CVS variable CW$Revision, which is automatically incremented by CVS every time the file is committed to the repository. In order to facilitate this feature, the following code can be employed:
  $VERSION = version->new(qw$Revision: 2.7 $);
and the version object will be created as if the following code were used:
  $VERSION = version->new("v2.7");
In other words, the version will be automatically parsed out of the string, and it will be quoted to preserve the meaning CVS normally carries for versions. The CVS CW$Revision$ increments differently from numeric versions (i.e. 1.10 follows 1.9), so it must be handled as if it were a Extended Version. A new version object can be created as a copy of an existing version object, either as a class method:
  $v1 = version->new(12.3);
  $v2 = version->new($v1);
or as an object method:
  $v1 = version->new(12.3);
  $v2 = $v1->new();
and in each case, CW$v1 and CW$v2 will be identical.
* qv()
An alternate way to create a new version object is through the exported qv() sub. This is not strictly like other q? operators (like qq, qw), in that the only delimiters supported are parentheses (or spaces). It is the best way to initialize a short version without triggering the floating point interpretation. For example:
  $v1 = qv(1.2);         # 1.2.0
  $v2 = qv("1.2");       # also 1.2.0
As you can see, either a bare number or a quoted string can usually be used interchangably, except in the case of a trailing zero, which must be quoted to be converted properly. For this reason, it is strongly recommended that all initializers to qv() be quoted strings instead of bare numbers. For the subsequent examples, the following three objects will be used:
  $ver   = version->new(""); # see "Quoting" below
  $alpha = version->new("1.2.3_4"); # see "Alpha versions" below
  $nver  = version->new(1.002);     # see "Numeric Versions" above
* Normal Form
For any version object which is initialized with multiple decimal places (either quoted or if possible v-string), or initialized using the qv() operator, the stringified representation is returned in a normalized or reduced form (no extraneous zeros), and with a leading 'v':
  print $ver->normal;         # prints as v1.2.3.4
  print $ver->stringify;      # ditto
  print $ver;                 # ditto
  print $nver->normal;        # prints as v1.2.0
  print $nver->stringify;     # prints as 1.002, see "Stringification"
In order to preserve the meaning of the processed version, the normalized representation will always contain at least three sub terms. In other words, the following is guaranteed to always be true:
  my $newver = version->new($ver->stringify);
  if ($newver eq $ver ) # always true
* Numification
Although all mathematical operations on version objects are forbidden by default, it is possible to retrieve a number which corresponds to the version object through the use of the CW$obj->numify method. For formatting purposes, when displaying a number which corresponds a version object, all sub versions are assumed to have three decimal places. So for example:
  print $ver->numify;         # prints 1.002003004
  print $nver->numify;        # prints 1.002
Unlike the stringification operator, there is never any need to append trailing zeros to preserve the correct version value.
* Stringification
In order to mirror as much as possible the existing behavior of ordinary CW$VERSION scalars, the stringification operation will display differently, depending on whether the version was initialized as a Numeric Version or Extended Version. What this means in practice is that if the normal CPAN and Camel rules are followed ($VERSION is a floating point number with no more than 3 decimal points), the stringified output will be exactly the same as the numified output. There will be no visible difference, although the internal representation will be different, and the Comparison operators will function using the internal coding. If a version object is initialized using a Extended Version form, then the stringified form will be the Normal Form. The CW$obj->normal operation can always be used to produce the Normal Form, even if the version was originally a Numeric Version.
  print $ver->stringify;    # prints v1.2.3.4
  print $nver->stringify;   # prints 1.002
* Comparison operators
Both CWcmp and CW<=> operators perform the same comparison between terms (upgrading to a version object automatically). Perl automatically generates all of the other comparison operators based on those two. In addition to the obvious equalities listed below, appending a single trailing 0 term does not change the value of a version for comparison purposes. In other words v1.2 and 1.2.0 will compare as identical. For example, the following relations hold:
  As Number        As String           Truth Value
  -------------    ----------------    -----------
  $ver >  1.0      $ver gt "1.0"       true
  $ver <  2.5      $ver lt             true
  $ver != 1.3      $ver ne "1.3"       true
  $ver == 1.2      $ver eq "1.2"       false
  $ver ==  $ver eq ""   see discussion below
It is probably best to chose either the numeric notation or the string notation and stick with it, to reduce confusion. Perl6 version objects may only support numeric comparisons. See also Quoting. WARNING: Comparing version with unequal numbers of decimal points (whether explicitly or implicitly initialized), may yield unexpected results at first glance. For example, the following inequalities hold:
  version->new(0.96)     > version->new(0.95); # 0.960.0 > 0.950.0
  version->new("0.96.1") < version->new(0.95); # 0.096.1 < 0.950.0
For this reason, it is best to use either exclusively Numeric Versions or Extended Versions with multiple decimal points.
* Logical Operators
If you need to test whether a version object has been initialized, you can simply test it directly:
  $vobj = version->new($something);
  if ( $vobj )   # true only if $something was non-blank
You can also test whether a version object is an Alpha version, for example to prevent the use of some feature not present in the main release:
  $vobj = version->new("1.2_3"); # MUST QUOTE
  if ( $vobj->is_alpha )       # True


Because of the nature of the Perl parsing and tokenizing routines, certain initialization values must be quoted in order to correctly parse as the intended version, especially when using the qv() operator. In all cases, a floating point number passed to version->new() will be identically converted whether or not the value itself is quoted. This is not true for qv(), however, when trailing zeros would be stripped on an unquoted input, which would result in a very different version object. In addition, in order to be compatible with earlier Perl version styles, any use of versions of the form 5.006001 will be translated as v5.6.1. In other words, a version with a single decimal point will be parsed as implicitly having three digits between subversions, but only for internal comparison purposes. The complicating factor is that in bare numbers (i.e. unquoted), the underscore is a legal numeric character and is automatically stripped by the Perl tokenizer before the version code is called. However, if a number containing one or more decimals and an underscore is quoted, i.e. not bare, that is considered a Alpha Version and the underscore is significant. If you use a mathematic formula that resolves to a floating point number, you are dependent on Perl's conversion routines to yield the version you expect. You are pretty safe by dividing by a power of 10, for example, but other operations are not likely to be what you intend. For example:

  $VERSION = version->new((qw$Revision: 1.4)[1]/10);
  print $VERSION;          # yields 0.14
  $V2 = version->new(100/9); # Integer overflow in decimal number
  print $V2;               # yields something like
Perl 5.8.1 and beyond will be able to automatically quote v-strings but that is not possible in earlier versions of Perl. In other words:
  $version = version->new("v2.5.4");  # legal in all versions of Perl
  $newvers = version->new(v2.5.4);    # legal only in Perl >= 5.8.1

What about v-strings?

Beginning with Perl 5.6.0, an alternate method to code arbitrary strings of bytes was introduced, called v-strings. They were intended to be an easy way to enter, for example, Unicode strings (which contain two bytes per character). Some programs have used them to encode printer control characters (e.g. CRLF). They were also intended to be used for CW$VERSION, but their use as such has been problematic from the start. There are two ways to enter v-strings: a bare number with two or more decimal points, or a bare number with one or more decimal points and a leading 'v' character (also bare). For example:

  $vs1 = 1.2.3; # encoded as \1\2\3
  $vs2 = v1.2;  # encoded as \1\2
However, the use of v-strings to initialize version objects with this module is only possible with Perl 5.8.1 or better (which contain special code to enable it). Their use is strongly discouraged in all circumstances (especially the leading 'v' style), since the meaning will change depending on which Perl you are running. It is better to directly use Extended Versions to ensure the proper interpretation.

Types of Versions Objects

There are two types of Version Objects:

* Ordinary versions
These are the versions that normal modules will use. Can contain as many subversions as required. In particular, those using RCS/CVS can use the following:
  $VERSION = version->new(qw$Revision: 2.7 $);
and the current RCS Revision for that file will be inserted automatically. If the file has been moved to a branch, the Revision will have three or more elements; otherwise, it will have only two. This allows you to automatically increment your module version by using the Revision number from the primary file in a distribution, see VERSION_FROM in ExtUtils::MakeMaker.
* Alpha Versions
For module authors using CPAN, the convention has been to note unstable releases with an underscore in the version string, see CPAN. Alpha releases will test as being newer than the more recent stable release, and less than the next stable release. For example:
  $alphaver = version->new("12.03_01"); # must be quoted
obeys the relationship
  12.03 < $alphaver < 12.04
Alpha versions with a single decimal point will be treated exactly as if they were Numeric Versions, for parsing purposes. The stringification for alpha versions with a single decimal point may seem surprising, since any trailing zeros will visible. For example, the above CW$alphaver will print as
which is mathematically equivalent and ASCII sorts exactly the same as without the trailing zeros. Alpha versions with more than a single decimal point will be treated exactly as if they were Extended Versions, and will display without any trailing (or leading) zeros, in the Version Normal form. For example,
  $newver = version->new("12.3.1_1");
  print $newver; # v12.3.1_1


In addition to the version objects, this modules also replaces the core UNIVERSAL::VERSION function with one that uses version objects for its comparisons. The return from this operator is always the numified form, and the warning message generated includes both the numified and normal forms (for clarity). For example:

  package Foo;
  $VERSION = 1.2;
  package Bar;
  $VERSION = "1.3.5"; # works with all Perl's (since it is quoted)
  package main;
  use version;
  print $Foo::VERSION; # prints 1.2
  print $Bar::VERSION; # prints 1.003005
  eval "use CGI 10"; # some far future release
  print $@; # prints "CGI version 10 (10.0.0) required..."
IMPORTANT NOTE: This may mean that code which searches for a specific string (to determine whether a given module is available) may need to be changed. The replacement UNIVERSAL::VERSION, when used as a function, like this:
  print $module->VERSION;
will also exclusively return the numified form. Technically, the CW$module->VERSION function returns a string (PV) that can be converted to a number following the normal Perl rules, when used in a numeric context.


This module is specifically designed and tested to be easily subclassed. In practice, you only need to override the methods you want to change, but you have to take some care when overriding new() (since that is where all of the parsing takes place). For example, this is a perfect acceptable derived class:

  package myversion;
  use base version;
  sub new { 
      my $obj;
      # perform any special input handling here
      $obj = $self->SUPER::new($n);
      # and/or add additional hash elements here
      return $obj;
See also version::AlphaBeta on CPAN for an alternate representation of version strings. NOTE: the qv operator is not a class method and will not be inherited in the same way as the other methods. qv will always return an object of type version and not an object in the derived class. If you need to have qv return an object in your derived class, add something like this:
  *::qv = sub { return bless version::qv(shift), __PACKAGE__ };
as seen in the test file t/02derived.t.


qv - Extended Version initialization operator


John Peacock <>