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Interviews: Alan Donovan and Brian Kernighan Answer Questions about Go →

Great Slashdot (they’re still around?) post which catalogs various questions the Slashdot community asked of Alan Donovan and Brian Kernighan, the authors of a new book about Go that folks are raving about.

When asked about package/dependency versioning, Donovan writes:

Go is designed for large programs, and versioning is notoriously hard in that context. About ten years ago, there was an experiment to introduce versioning into Google’s build system (which was designed by Rob Pike and others). It failed because of the “diamond dependency” problem, which I’m sure many of you have heard of—it’s the classic problem of version numbering. Consider four packages A, B, C, D, where A depends on B and C, and B and C both depend on D. This is a diamond dependency. If the author of B decides that only version 1 of D will do, and the author of C requires at least version 2 of D, you have an impossible set of constraints. If you’re lucky, you might be able to build A with both the old and the new versions of D, but in general this doesn’t work. Since that experiment, Google hasn’t touched automated versioning again. The way we do versioning is simple but manual: we treat each version of a package as a separate entity with a distinct name (for example, “D1”, “D2”), and work hard to limit the number of versions of each package—ideally to one. That’s why versioning hasn’t been a priority for us at Google. However, this August, the prolific Dave Cheney proposed a scheme for Go package version numbering, so perhaps we’ll see development of this idea in the near future.

Other great nuggets in there, too.