Why you SHOULD go for a new major version according to semver?
Semver is a recommendation and not a regulation: ultimately, it's up to you to decide, as suggested by Bart. However, if you want to comply with semver, you MUST go to the next major version. First:
- Once a versioned package has been released, the contents of that version MUST NOT be modified. Any modifications MUST be released as a new version.
Second, because semver only defines version increase:
- Major version X MUST be incremented if any backwards incompatible changes are introduced to the public API.
Why you SHOULD NOT go backwards in the version numbering
First of all, it is perfectly possible to create a maintenance release for a previous but sill maintained version. So if you have a branch
3.0.0, you can very well create a bugfix
2.3.6, or a (backwards-compatible) feature version
2.5.0, as long as you do not create an overlap between the branches.
However your scenario is different: going back for your main version creates inconsistencies . Suppose for example that you would go to
latest most advanced version would no longer be the largest number. This breaks a lot of assumptions about increasing version numbering. For example:
What version would you see as the latest stable version in your wikipedia page? what would the customers of version
3.0.0 think of you and your reliability if they discover that they have a version after the latest stable version? what version would customer download if they are looking for the most advanced?
- New major evolution could create new numbering challenges to avoid conflicts:
2.4.0 you would introduce a new major version, you would have to INCREMENT your major version. So it would be back again to
3.0.0. Would you rather go for
3.1.0 (but perhaps your new version goes in a totally different direction ans is incompatible with the former version
3.0.0)? Or jump directly to version
4.0.0? In this case you would only have postponed the brutal version number increase.
- How would you document that the API of version
3.0.0 is deprecated?
3.0.0 is deprecated from version
2.4.0 onwards"? really?
- Chained reaction! An official release has consequences: your clients may also have versioned packages. After all, that's what semver is meant for. Your backward numbering might mess up their recommendation for their own versionning and automated dependency management tools.
Example: "if you use our package
7.1 you need his component
3.0.0; if you use our package
7.2 you need his component
2.4.0" - really?
I recommend to stick strictly to semver. Semver was not designed for marketing purpose nor for affinity. It was designed to facilitate the management of many dependencies between many components. The (consistent) number jump is really a minor inconvenience, compared to the assumptions a backwards numbering could break.