Re: [netmod] backward compatibility requirements in draft-verdt-netmod-yang-versioning-reqs-00

Juergen Schoenwaelder <> Tue, 24 July 2018 09:29 UTC

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Date: Tue, 24 Jul 2018 11:29:08 +0200
From: Juergen Schoenwaelder <>
To: Christian Hopps <>
Cc: Andy Bierman <>, NetMod WG <>
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Subject: Re: [netmod] backward compatibility requirements in draft-verdt-netmod-yang-versioning-reqs-00
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On Sat, Jul 21, 2018 at 05:47:45PM -0400, Christian Hopps wrote:

> There are actual instances where small perhaps non-disruptive but
> incompatible changes are required. The example given to me for this
> type of change was when the original specification had an obvious
> bug (e.g., a range was incorrectly specified).

I strongly believe that fixing bugs is not a reason to change the
current versioning rules. Bugs come essentially in three flavors:

- A definition is messed up (i.e., a range, a pattern, a must
  expression) but the original intention of the definition is clear
  from the context (description clauses, references, ...). In this
  case, implementors will likely have done the right thing (or when
  they observed the problem they will likely have done the right

- A definition is messed up but it is not clear from the context what
  the original intention of the definition was. In this case, there is
  a true ambiguity and implementors can rightfully have come to
  different conclusions how to deal with the conflict in the

In the first case, I believe there is no issue with simply fixing the
messed up definition. I believe this kind of bug fixes is not
constrained by the YANG update rules.

In the second case, there is true ambiguity what implementations may
do and hence the safest approach is to deprecate the messed up
definition and to create a replacement.

Of course, in reality, things are often not so clear cut and hence it
takes some informed judgement what is the reasonable way to deal with
things. (A type two bug caught very early may be different from a type
two bug caught after several months of implementation and deployment.)

Sometimes we also have situations where a definition that was
originally OK turs out over time to be problematic as technology has
evolved. So after some time, the original definition starts to look
like a bug but it actually is not. The safe path forward is again to
create new definitions and to deprecate the old ones.

Now, for those in favour of moving from (module, path) to (module,
path, version), you loose the deprecated definition. So if you wan't
to allow for a transition period, there is a need to allow an old
client to work with the old definition and a new client to work with
the new definition. In the current naming scheme, this is not a
problem, with a (module, path, version) naming scheme this requires
some extra complexity.


Juergen Schoenwaelder           Jacobs University Bremen gGmbH
Phone: +49 421 200 3587         Campus Ring 1 | 28759 Bremen | Germany
Fax:   +49 421 200 3103         <>