A small improvement to our version numbering (aka Why there won’t be a “Flash Player 10 Update 1″)

Some people have noticed that our Flash Player 10 release last week had a “funny” version number. Funny in that the fourth digit wasn’t “0” for the final release as it has been in the past.

No, it isn’t a mistake — we are using a new numbering system! Ok, not new as in totally-different, but new as in tweaked-and-better. In the Flash Player world, where backwards compatibility and legacy behavior are important, making a change like this is a big deal. Big enough that this particular change was proposed a few times until we finally felt comfortable enough to give it a shot. There are a few good reasons why we wanted this change. First, the old system, where the third digit was basically our build number, created some internal havoc. You can imagine the pain we caused to our documentation team and other internal products that had to wait until we were done to find out the final version number. The other pain was to marketing and our customers. We weren’t able to version dot releases in a meaningful way, which is how we ended up with a name like “Flash Player 9 Update 3″ delivering something as juicy as H.264 in a product with a 9.0.115.0 version number.

Enter the improved system that allows us to predict the final build numbers through the first three digits but takes into account that the third digit always has to increase for legacy detection scripts in the wild. For Flash Player 10, our developer builds were 10.0.10.b, betas were 10.0.11.b and release candidates/GM builds were 10.0.12.b. (b is the build number, so take note that we want you to continue to ignore the fourth digit for detection purposes.) The important information about the version is the first release of Flash Player 10 = 10.0.12.*

This new numbering system allows us to move towards more meaningful release numbering where the first, second and third digits actually mean Major, Minor, Bugfix. For example, the next bugfix or security release should jump up and use the series 10.0.20/10.0.21/10.0.22, and we can use “10.1” (e.g. 10.1.30/10.1.31/10.1.32) when we do a feature-bearing dot release instead of “Flash Player 10 Update 1.” Old detection kits will continue to work, but moving forward you could detect for minor releases for a specific feature more easily. And it’s not a tongue twister.

So, there is the explanation for the Flash Player Trivia files. :-)

* 10/22/08 tiny correction. The first release of 10 is actually 10.0.2.54, which ships in CS4 (because of lockdown schedules). That build is only in the tools and was never available from the player download center for users. You should update your players to the first web release of the player for development and testing.