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proposal: cmd/go: notify about newer major versions #40323

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zachgersh opened this issue Jul 21, 2020 · 28 comments
Open

proposal: cmd/go: notify about newer major versions #40323

zachgersh opened this issue Jul 21, 2020 · 28 comments
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@zachgersh
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@zachgersh zachgersh commented Jul 21, 2020

Proposal: Major Module Version Alerts

This is a unification of two separate proposals (#38762 and #38502) that seek to alert users to the fact that a set of new major module versions may be available for inclusion in their project.

Problem

Semantic Import Versioning introduced the concept of a version suffix, which needs to be explicitly specified on your module path for major versions greater than 1. It is easy for users to consume a v0/v1 version of a module by default, even if they would be better served by selecting the most recent major version.

Discoverability is a key issue. The mechanisms for module authors to advertise recent major versions are inconsistent, and can be low-visibility (documentation? README.md?) or highly disruptive (printing deprecation warnings in init, broken builds to force an investigation).

Abstract

We propose a mechanism that notifies users of the latest major version of a module dependency when (a) that dependency is first added to the project; (b) they update to a newer minor or patch version; or (c) they list out dependencies that can be upgraded.

The proposed notification is informational; the user will have to decide the best course of action (stay with the v0/v1 version they fetched, or update their code to use a later version). We understand that automatic upgrades are not generally possible, as new major semantic versions are necessarily incompatible with previous ones.

Proposal

We propose notifying users of new major versions when:

  • They first add a requirement for an old major version of a module
  • They update a requirement for an old major version of a module
  • They list dependencies that can be updated

There are a few ways users add requirements to their modules:

  • By running go get github.com/user/repo
  • By adding a require github.com/user/repo line to their go.mod file manually
  • By adding an import line to a Go source file, and having goimports or gopls editor integration add the import line on save

For the latter two, the module isn't fetched until the go command is invoked within the module.

There are a few ways users update requirements:

  • By running go get [-u] github.com/user/repo
  • By running go get -u ./... from the module root

And there is one way users find out about available updates:

  • By running go list -m -u all

We propose to, in these cases, have the go tool print a note when a more recent major version of the module is available.

Examples

Consider a user fetching github.com/peterbourgon/ff with go get. We propose adding a notification to the output, alerting the user to a new major version:

$ go get github.com/peterbourgon/ff
go: finding github.com/pelletier/go-toml v1.6.0
go: finding gopkg.in/yaml.v2 v2.2.4
go: finding github.com/davecgh/go-spew v1.1.1
go: downloading github.com/peterbourgon/ff v1.7.0
go: extracting github.com/peterbourgon/ff v1.7.0
go: note: a more recent major version is available: github.com/peterbourgon/ff/v3 [v3.1.0]  👈

Consider a user listing all of the most recent versions of their dependencies. We propose printing the same note to standard error after any new minor or patch versions:

$ go list -m -u all
example.com/my-module
github.com/BurntSushi/toml v0.3.1
github.com/mitchellh/go-wordwrap v1.0.0
github.com/peterbourgon/ff v1.6.0 [v1.7.0]
go: note: a more recent major version is available: github.com/peterbourgon/ff/v3 [v3.1.0] 👈

If the requirement is added to the go.mod file manually, the go tool would print the notification when it first fetches the new module, as part of a go build, go test, etc. run.

Integrations

pkg.go.dev

The Go package discovery website at pkg.go.dev shows modules and their versions. However, it obscures successive major versions when they exist, apparently treating major module versions as completely distinct. For example, the landing page for peterbourgon/ff shows v1.7.0 with a "Latest" bubble beside it. The versions tab does list other major versions, but under the heading "Other modules containing this package", which is confusing.
Instead, pkg.go.dev could feature a prominent indicator on the landing page for a v0/v1 module that there are two successive major versions (v2 and v3), to funnel the user toward the latter.

Editor integration (gopls, goimports)

Go text editor integrations typically include a feature that automatically adds import statements to source files based on the mentioned identifiers. Because of Semantic Import Versioning, this also gives those tools the responsibility of choosing the major version of the imported module. In the case where there is no suitable existing requirement in the project’s go.mod file, these editor integrations could alert the user to the availability of newer major module versions. How this works is outside the scope of this proposal.

Proposal Co-authors

@gopherbot gopherbot added this to the Proposal milestone Jul 21, 2020
@gopherbot gopherbot added the Proposal label Jul 21, 2020
@bcmills
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@bcmills bcmills commented Jul 22, 2020

The main problem with “on first add” warnings is that users often don't have control over when things are added: it's easy for a tool to accidentally do the thing that triggers the warning (and then not log the warning, because the command completed successfully), and then the warning is buried ~forever. (Compare rust-lang/cargo#5560.)

The editor integration seems more interesting, in that editors have the opportunity to surface low-priority information based on what the user is viewing rather than based on what they are doing.

@adg
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@adg adg commented Jul 22, 2020

it's easy for a tool to accidentally do the thing that triggers the warning (and then not log the warning, because the command completed successfully), and then the warning is buried ~forever

Do you have a concrete example of this? I just use the go tool to manage my dependencies.

It seems a bit cavalier to dismiss the utility of this proposal just because some people or tools might ignore the output.

@bcmills
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@bcmills bcmills commented Jul 23, 2020

Do you have a concrete example of this?

Consider the following scenarios:

  • You run a command that produces a lot of output, such as go test all or go test -v ./..., then go back to editing your code (or go get a coffee or otherwise turn your attention from the go test command). By the time you look at the output (all tests passed!), the warning has scrolled well off the screen.

  • You receive a pull request from an external user who copied the change from a local patch, and didn't feel like rewriting their patch (or even mentioning the newer version) when they mailed you the change.

  • You added an import to a file, and now gopls is suggesting a change to your go.mod file to add the corresponding module (perhaps based on an internal, background go mod tidy run). You add it.

In all of these cases, the warning appeared at some point but was either ignored or missed entirely.

If it is important to surface out-of-date dependencies, I don't think a one-time warning is a good way to do that because it's so easy to miss the one time it appears. (Or, to put it another way: if it's unimportant enough that we shouldn't worry about the user missing the warning, then it's probably not important enough to emit the warning in the first place.)

@bcmills
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@bcmills bcmills commented Jul 23, 2020

@peterbourgon
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@peterbourgon peterbourgon commented Jul 23, 2020

These proposals aren't intended to be perfect or exhaustive solutions to the complex problems they address — they're intended to be (substantial) improvements to the status quo. It is of course possible that a user could add a new module dependency to their project and then run the go tool in such a way that it would be easy to miss the messages we're proposing to add. YMMV, but I think it is much more likely, and far more common, that users add dependencies deliberately, and do pay attention to the results of the fetch.

@myitcv
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@myitcv myitcv commented Jul 23, 2020

YMMV, but I think it is much more likely, and far more common, that users add dependencies deliberately, and do pay attention to the results of the fetch.

I commented over in #40357 (comment). I suspect in these days of gopls that the goimports-esque workflow is actually the most common.

Hence:

The editor integration seems more interesting, in that editors have the opportunity to surface low-priority information based on what the user is viewing rather than based on what they are doing.

is I think the best way to surface this information.

It seems a bit cavalier to dismiss the utility of this proposal just because some people or tools might ignore the output

@adg - I don't think this is a fair or particularly charitable interpretation of @bcmills' response. @bcmills made an observation about the problems associated with “on first add” warnings, cited an example, and then went on to agree with the proposal in the context of surfacing this via editor integrations. I don't think I would characterise that as "dismiss(ing) the utility of this proposal".

As some context, the golang-tools group has been discussing problems/solutions such as this since GopherCon 2018 (the group was largely established in the wake of the vgo release). I might well be biased, but based on previous experience the monthly calls are a good opportunity for discussion of these problems/solutions/options in the pre-proposal (design) phase.

@rsc rsc changed the title Proposal: Major Module Version Alerts proposal: cmd/go: notify about newer major versions Jul 23, 2020
@jayconrod
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@jayconrod jayconrod commented Jul 23, 2020

This overlaps a bit with #40357, but I assume if a module author explicitly deprecates a major version with a comment in go.mod, then the go command wouldn't also show this notice.

I think some signal from the module author should be required to show a notice though, for two reasons:

  1. If a new major version is available, it doesn't necessarily mean the old major version is deprecated. Even if no new features are added, an old major version may still receive bug fixes and security updates. Users might still depend on features in the old version that were removed. Basically, migrating to a new major version isn't necessarily the right choice for users. While the messages proposed here don't suggest an action, I feel like they imply that.
  2. If we're telling users about a new major version, we should provide an action they can take to migrate. Because major versions are incompatible changes, there's nothing we can do automatically, yet. It would be better for the author to provide migration instructions in a deprecation notice. Or ideally, if migrations were automated (#32816), we could tell people what command to run.
@peterbourgon
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@peterbourgon peterbourgon commented Jul 24, 2020

I think some signal from the module author should be required to show a notice

The problem we're trying to solve is package consumers who intend to take the latest major version of a module, but select an old version due to unfamiliarity with the nuances of SIV. Making package authors opt-in to this notification wold subvert the intent and impact of the proposal.

If a new major version is available, it doesn't necessarily mean the old major version is deprecated.

The notification that a new major version is available is in no way a signal of deprecation of the current version. There is another proposal for authors who want to opt in to that stronger messaging.

If we're telling users about a new major version, we should provide an action they can take to migrate.

We initially had the notification include a command to make the upgrade, but went with this version in the end. Happy to switch back if that's the consensus.

@icholy
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@icholy icholy commented Jul 24, 2020

If a new major version is available, it doesn't necessarily mean the old major version is deprecated.

The problem is that they look like warnings and will create more and more noise as a project gets older. Instead of putting it on a separate line, it could just be combined with the existing output.

$ go list -m -u all
example.com/my-module
github.com/BurntSushi/toml v0.3.1
github.com/mitchellh/go-wordwrap v1.0.0
github.com/peterbourgon/ff v1.6.0 [v1.7.0] [latest v3.1.0]
@peterbourgon
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@peterbourgon peterbourgon commented Jul 24, 2020

The problem is that they look like warnings and will create more and more noise as a project gets older.

We propose only a single line of output per dependency, specifically with a "note" or "notice" (read: not "warning") prefix, output only the first time the dependency is added to a project, and identifying only the most recent version of that dependency. I don't think this looks like a warning, nor does it create more noise over time.

edit: Also, to me, putting the notification inline implies some level of compatibility between major versions that feels misleading.

Instead of putting it on a separate line, it could just be combined with the existing output.

By itself, this would be insufficiently obvious to solve the problem we're trying to solve with this proposal.

@icholy
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@icholy icholy commented Jul 24, 2020

nor does it create more noise over time.

Over time, as new major versions of your dependencies are released, more notices are printed.

@peterbourgon
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@peterbourgon peterbourgon commented Jul 24, 2020

Over time, as new major versions of your dependencies are released, more notices are printed.

No, I don't think so. At least, the proposal doesn't intend so. Notices are only printed when a dependency is first added to a project at an older major version, or upgraded within an older major version tree. In other words, the trigger is not "a new major version of one of your dependencies is now available" but rather "you have added or upgraded a dependency to your project on a major version which is not the latest". And in all cases the notice only includes the most recent major version, not all major versions greater than the currently pinned major version.

@rsc rsc added this to Incoming in Proposals Aug 4, 2020
@adg
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@adg adg commented Aug 4, 2020

@bcmills wrote:

The main problem with “on first add” warnings is that users often don't have control over when things are added

The "on first add" part is just one part of this proposal. We also suggest printing the message when the user is looking to upgrade their module dependencies with go list -m -u all. That seems like an opportune time to present such a message. Do you agree?

@myitcv wrote:

I don't think this is a fair or particularly charitable interpretation of @bcmills' response. @bcmills made an observation about the problems associated with “on first add” warnings, cited an example, and then went on to agree with the proposal in the context of surfacing this via editor integrations. I don't think I would characterise that as "dismiss(ing) the utility of this proposal".

I apologise for my reaction, as opposed to a response. As someone who doesn't use the various editor integrations, I read @bcmills's response as a dismissal of my workflow. I still read it that way, but I recognise that the onus is on me to explain myself better here. Mea culpa.

the golang-tools group has been discussing problems/solutions

A little off topic in this thread, but: I would like to be involved but 15:30 UTC is 01:30 in my time zone, and I am ~never awake then. Real time chat does not work for me either; I struggle enough to stay on top of my asynchronous obligations as it is. I appreciate that there is some focused discussion on these issues, though. I will try to find some time to look through the minutes from previous meetings.

@icholy wrote:

Instead of putting it on a separate line, it could just be combined with the existing output.

@peterbourgon wrote:

By itself, this would be insufficiently obvious to solve the problem we're trying to solve with this proposal.

FWIW, I am not opposed to this suggestion. If the user is looking to upgrade their modules with go list -m -u all, then they are likely already scrutinising each line to see whether they should be ugprading.

I would make a small change to @icholy's suggestion, which is to include the full module path of the new major version, as it is different to the one printed on the line. So instead of this

github.com/peterbourgon/ff v1.6.0 [v1.7.0] [latest v3.1.0]

we should print something like

github.com/peterbourgon/ff v1.6.0 [v1.7.0] latest major version: github.com/peterbourgon/ff/v3 v3.1.0

But I do note that at that point things become crowded, and perhaps the two-line version in the OP is preferable.

@bcmills
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@bcmills bcmills commented Aug 4, 2020

We also suggest printing the message when the user is looking to upgrade their module dependencies with go list -m -u all. That seems like an opportune time to present such a message. Do you agree?

I think the related proposal #40357 is probably a good idea.

However, especially given that proposal, I suspect that the log message from this proposal would be too noisy, for the reasons described by @jayconrod in #40323 (comment). I suspect that users will generally ignore the log message if it is not accompanied by instructions (or a tool!) to fix incompatible call sites, and even if they do know how to make the change it's not obviously worth the churn if the major version they are already using is itself still supported.

@adg
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@adg adg commented Aug 4, 2020

On balance if we had to choose one proposal or the other I'd go with #40357, but I do think both proposal serve different purposes, and would work nicely together.

Updating between major versions is almost always going to the user to read some documentation and write some code. Whether they want to make the change is a judgment that only the consumer can make. Yes, we can't necessarily provide an easy upgrade path, but is that a reason not to offer them the information?

If the overwhelming concern is noise, perhaps we could try putting together a functional prototype of the command and see just how noisy it is on typical projects. IMO, such information isn't "noise" when I'm specifically asking about updates. But maybe it would become overwhelming? My gut says no, but I can't say for sure without trying it out.

@icholy
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@icholy icholy commented Aug 4, 2020

gopls is great, but it should be possible to query this info without using third party tooling.

edit: is the intent to discourage publishing new major versions? (Not being facetious).

@peterbourgon
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@peterbourgon peterbourgon commented Aug 4, 2020

@bcmills

I suspect that users will generally ignore the log message if it is not accompanied by instructions (or a tool!) to fix incompatible call sites,

One, this proposal is a response to the specific condition described in the problem statement, which is module consumers inadvertently selecting an old, typically v0/v1, major version of a module, when they intended to select the latest major version. This has happened to me, and to colleagues and peers, enough times that I was motivated to brainstorm, draft, iterate, submit, and re-submit this proposal with Andrew and Zach. Your critique seems to dismiss this initial condition as either invalid or so infrequent as to not be worth addressing. Is that your intent? Do you think this doesn't happen?

Two, the message is not printed only after the consumer has written code against the older major version which would need to be changed, it is also printed when the module consumer first imports the module. It's at that time that the proposal delivers the most value, in my opinion. Rather than wasting time integrating against an old version, the consumer can realize what happened and express their intent correctly.

Three, I personally have no expectation that module authors provide explicit upgrade instructions between major versions, and certainly not that there is any kind of tooling to do so automatically. Actually I've never heard this desire expressed by anyone I've ever interacted with, until now. Is this something that's common at Google? In any case, I don't think the lack of this theoretical tooling should impact the judgment of this proposal.

and even if they do know how to make the change it's not obviously worth the churn if the major version they are already using is itself still supported.

Is github.com/google/go-github v10.0.0 still supported, even though the latest version is currently v32.1.0? Is your position that someone who had inadvertently selected this ancient version would see the message suggested by this proposal as delivering net negative value?

@peterbourgon
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@peterbourgon peterbourgon commented Aug 4, 2020

@myitcv @adg

the golang-tools group has been discussing problems/solutions

A little off topic in this thread, but: I would like to be involved but 15:30 UTC is 01:30 in my time zone, and I am ~never awake then. Real time chat does not work for me either; I struggle enough to stay on top of my asynchronous obligations as it is. I appreciate that there is some focused discussion on these issues, though. I will try to find some time to look through the minutes from previous meetings.

For the record, I intend to join the next meeting/s. I'll keep an eye on the wiki page for the next scheduled date, but please poke me in Slack when it's coming up, if you don't mind.

@zachgersh
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@zachgersh zachgersh commented Aug 4, 2020

If the overwhelming concern is noise, perhaps we could try putting together a functional prototype of the command and see just how noisy it is on typical projects.

I generally love this idea. We don't need to speculate as to how noise when we can directly observe (and maybe have others here try this).

I personally have no expectation that module authors provide explicit upgrade instructions between major versions, and certainly not that there is any kind of tooling to do so automatically.

Really big plus one here. A major version upgrade, to me, means that an author will spend time understanding what about the library has changed in addition to how to upgrade their code to support it. Whether they then perform the upgrade themselves or there is some automation to do perform it doesn't prevent the need for that initial understanding.

@rsc rsc moved this from Incoming to Active in Proposals Aug 12, 2020
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@rsc rsc commented Aug 12, 2020

It sounds like the main part of the disagreement here is about whether the module author should be able to keep this from happening. As written, this proposal does not let a module author who is perfectly happy maintaining v1 and v2 indefinitely stop the (implicit) "you should update to v2" messages every time a user starts using v1. Especially if v2 is not as capable as v1, that could be quite annoying for users, who will then complain to the author.

That is, this proposal forces a particular usage of module versions that is not strictly required to date.

In contrast, #40357 puts control over whether users are told about the new version in the module author's hands.

Do I have that right?

@peterbourgon
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@peterbourgon peterbourgon commented Aug 12, 2020

@rsc

As written, this proposal does not let a module author who is perfectly happy maintaining v1 and v2 indefinitely stop the (implicit) "you should update to v2" messages every time a user starts using v1. Especially if v2 is not as capable as v1, that could be quite annoying for users, who will then complain to the author.

That is, this proposal forces a particular usage of module versions that is not strictly required to date.

I hope the proposed message doesn't imply, explicitly or implicitly, that the consumer should upgrade their version. I certainly hope the proposal isn't read as forcing an interpretation of module versioning. If there is a way to lighten the message to avoid this interpretation, I'd be happy to change it.

(It does seem both obvious and uncontroversial to me that, absent extenuating circumstances, a larger/newer major version of a software artifact should be preferred to a smaller/older one — but that's a philosophical discussion that we don't need to have here.)

It sounds like the main part of the disagreement here is about whether the module author should be able to keep this from happening.

I think it's important that this message isn't opt-in, but I'd be fine with it being opt-out.

@bcmills
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@bcmills bcmills commented Aug 12, 2020

this proposal is a response to … module consumers inadvertently selecting an old, typically v0/v1, major version of a module, when they intended to select the latest major version. … Your critique seems to dismiss this initial condition as either invalid or so infrequent as to not be worth addressing. Is that your intent? Do you think this doesn't happen?

I think it does happen, but I think the appropriate point to intervene is usually earlier in the workflow. If a user has written an import statement, they got the idea to write that import from somewhere — a website (maybe pkg.go.dev or a code snippet from someone's blog), or a tool (perhaps goimports or gopls), or a snippet copied from some existing project.

If they got the import path from pkg.go.dev and didn't notice the version skew there, that's #37765 or perhaps #36969.

If they got it from goimports or gopls, then there may be a heuristic in those to fix. (If so, please file a separate issue.)

So that leaves a code snippet copied from some existing project, or perhaps a blog or tutorial. But in that case, why would you infer that they intended to use the latest version, rather than the version that the rest of their code snippet was written against? The rest of the code snippet is likely to not even work with a different major version.

@Merovius
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@Merovius Merovius commented Aug 12, 2020

Personally, my workflow is a) I find the github (or whatever) page of the package I'm interested in, b) I type go get github.com/foo/bar (by hand) into my shell and c) I use bar.Baz() in my code and let goimports add the import statement.

So personally, I'd benefit from a warning on go get. Arguably, my workflow is bad and I am trying to be better about remembering major versions and type a more specific module path into my shell. But notably, I don't copy it from anywhere - I just type the name I think is correct.

@bcmills
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@bcmills bcmills commented Aug 12, 2020

Three, I personally have no expectation that module authors provide explicit upgrade instructions between major versions, and certainly not that there is any kind of tooling to do so automatically. Actually I've never heard this desire expressed by anyone I've ever interacted with, until now. Is this something that's common at Google? In any case, I don't think the lack of this theoretical tooling should impact the judgment of this proposal.

See #32816 and https://abseil.io/docs/cpp/tools/api-upgrades.

@peterbourgon
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@peterbourgon peterbourgon commented Aug 12, 2020

@bcmills

If a user has written an import statement, they got the idea to write that import from somewhere — a website (maybe pkg.go.dev or a code snippet from someone's blog), or a tool (perhaps goimports or gopls), or a snippet copied from some existing project.

There are infinitely many ways that someone may know and express the identifier (e.g.) github.com/sirupsen/logrus as something they want to add to their new microservice, including just typing it directly from memory due to frequent exposure. All of those roads converge at the point where the dependency is first added to the project, and only there can a notification like this be consistently applied.

@adg
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@adg adg commented Aug 12, 2020

@Merovius wrote:

Personally, my workflow is a) I find the github (or whatever) page of the package I'm interested in, b) I type go get github.com/foo/bar (by hand) into my shell and c) I use bar.Baz() in my code and let goimports add the import statement.

I often do this too. With GitHub-hosted repos it is particularly easy to miss new major versions, since GH doesn't do a great job of surfacing branches and tags (they're hidden behind a drop down menu).

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@rsc rsc commented Aug 13, 2020

@peterbourgon:

I hope the proposed message doesn't imply, explicitly or implicitly, that the consumer should upgrade their version.

Given the general Go position of not printing warnings - only printing things that are actionable and worth acting on - I personally think a message would imply that users should upgrade.

Perhaps it would make sense to provide the information about a newer major version in go list -m -u and to make it available also in go list -m -u -json. Then other tooling can find out and show it when appropriate.

I tend to agree with the point raised that for other commands, like go get itself, printing the message about v2 without a clear signal from the module author that v1 should no longer be used is overstepping.

@peterbourgon
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@peterbourgon peterbourgon commented Aug 13, 2020

@rsc

I tend to agree with the point raised that for other commands, like go get itself, printing the message about v2 without a clear signal from the module author that v1 should no longer be used is overstepping.

This implies that all major versions of a software artifact are, by default, equally viable for consumers, and equally supported by authors. I'm not aware of any software project for which this is the case, much less that this is or should be the default position for tooling. Essentially every software project I'm aware of directs essentially all of their development effort to the latest major version, prefers their users to use that latest version, and "supports" only the most recently older major versions, and only in the weakest possible sense of the word.

The obvious example here is the Go project itself. Major versions are "supported" only back a couple of releases, and even then, "support" means only that they will receive security and compatibility fixes, not that they will continue to receive valuable new features, or even non-critical bug fixes. Do we not want new users to be directed to the latest version? Would it be "overstepping" if the mechanism to download Go releases notified users fetching Go 1.11 that the latest version was actually Go 1.15? What if that mechanism would, by default, download Go 1.0, unless it was explicitly parameterized with the latest version (which was undiscoverable)? edit: It's been pointed out to me that Go is technically still on major version 1. Fair.

edit: I admit, I'm deeply confused by this resistance. As a software author, I can't think of any circumstance in which I wouldn't want someone fetching an older major version of my artifact to see a message telling them that a more recent version exists. As a software consumer, I can't think of any circumstance where I would be anything but thankful to see that message. I'll ask you what I asked @bcmills — do you think the problem described in the proposal text doesn't actually happen? Or maybe, if it happens, it's not actually a problem? Or maybe, that the harm caused doesn't justify the proposed change?

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