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Project fork

While Slicer specific patches related to dependent project (i.e. VTK) are integrated upstream, it is not uncommon to build Slicer against a Slicer specific fork of the project.

For example:

Patches for tagged release

For each version of the project requiring some specific patches, a branch following that convention will be created: slicer-vX.Y.Z-YEAR-MONTH-DAY where

  • X.Y.Z corresponds to the version of the fork project
  • YEAR-MONTH-DAY corresponds to the date of the last official commit of the fork project.

For example, in case of the Slicer/VTK fork, the branch slicer-v6.2.0-2015-03-02 has been created.

Patches for development branch

In this case, since there is no tag associated with the branch, the Slicer specific patch should be added to a branch named using the date of the commit parent of the Slicer branch: slicer-vX.Y-YEAR-MONTH-DAY-REV where

  • X.Y corresponds to the fork release
  • REV corresponds to either the first 7 chars of git hash or SVN revision (for example r1234)
  • YEAR-MONTH-DAY corresponds to the date of the last official commit of the fork project

For example: slicer-v6.2.0-2015-02-24-70bad0e

Adding patches to the fork

When adding new patches to the fork, prefer direct commits or cherry-picked commits over merge commits. Avoiding merge commits makes it easier to rebase the fork against a new upstream revision.

Commit message

The following command should be used to list changes:

git shortlog sha_before..sha_after --no-merges

where sha_before and sha_after are the first seven charachers of the SHA.

Here is an example of commit updating External_VTKv6.cmake in Slicer:

ENH: Update VTK to handle default values for array parameters in python
Without this commit, one must specify parameters like (,int array[3]=0) when
the method is called from python.

$ git shortlog 1c30cb0..4b9957b --no-merges
David Gobbi (2):
      Fix wrapping pointer parameters with default value 0.
      Handle default values for array parameters in python.

Source: r25160


  • For the commit title, prefer something like ENH: Update VTK to ... instead of ENH: Update VTK git tag to ...
  • If there is only commit in the update, it is reasonable to copy the message. For example, see r24693.
  • If the copied message reference the sha1 of its project (e.g VTK), change it to this form org/proj@sha. For example, see r24693.
  • If there is a long list of changes return by git shortlog, make sure to copy the full list. Before the list, consider also adding a short summary of the "interesting" changes. For example, see r25068

Slicer Package naming scheme


There are 2 types of builds, releases and developments:

Special builds made on a given revision (e.g. r19033: "ENH: Slicer 4.0.1")
Don't contain date or revision number.
The optional suffix -rc{1|2|3|...} identifies the release candidates leading to a final release.
Eventually, a tweak number can be added (e.g. 4.0.1-1)
Nightly or experimental builds
Contains suffixes after the major.minor.patch version
The suffix svn<REV> allows to identify the revision associated with the current package.
The -dirty prefix indicates if the package has been generated from a locally modified source tree.

Example of linux 64bits packages

Proposal #1

Include revision number in package name

File name date build type note
Slicer-4.0.0-linux-amd64 2011-11-24 release release of Slicer 4.0.0
Slicer-4.0.0-2011-12-10-svn100-linux-amd64 2011-11-25 development nightly build after 4.0.0
Slicer-4.0.1-rc1-linux-amd64 2012-01-04 release release candidate 1 of Slicer 4.0.1
Slicer-4.0.1-rc1-2012-01-05-svn150-linux-amd64 2012-01-05 development nightly build after the release candidate
Slicer-4.0.1-rc2-linux-amd64 2012-01-11 release release candidate 2 of Slicer 4.0.1
Slicer-4.0.1-rc2-2012-01-12-svn200-linux-amd64 2012-01-12 development nightly build after the release candidate
Slicer-4.0.1-linux-amd64 2012-01-14 release release of Slicer 4.0.1
Slicer-4.0.1-2012-01-20-svn236-linux-amd64 2012-01-20 development nightly build after 4.0.1
Slicer-4.0.1-1-linux-amd64 2012-01-28 release tweak version 1 of Slicer 4.0.1
Slicer-4.0.2-linux.amd64 2012-06-05 release release of Slicer 4.0.2

Proposal #2

  • Increment minor version after each release, remove the concept of release candidate and tweak version.
  • With the transition to git workflow where branching is easier, after each release, the minor version in the trunk would be increased by one.
  • Patch release would be done using the maintenance branch associated with any given release.

File name date build type branch note
Slicer-4.5.0-1-linux-amd64 2015-12-11 release 4.5 tweak version 1 of Slicer 4.5.0
Slicer-4.6.0-2016-01-30-svn24950-linux-amd64 2016-01-30 development master nightly build after 4.5.0
... ... ... ... ...
Slicer-4.6.0-2016-02-06-svn25174-linux-amd64 2016-02-06 development master nightly build after 4.5.0
Slicer-4.5.1-2016-02-06-svn25175-linux-amd64 2016-02-06 development 4.5 manual build after 4.5.0-1
Slicer-4.5.1-linux-amd64 2015-02-07 release 4.5 patch version 1 of Slicer 4.5.0
... ... ... ... ...
Slicer-4.6.0-2016-03-05-svn25174-linux-amd64 2016-02-05 development master nightly build after 4.5.0
Slicer-4.6.0-linux-amd64 2016-03-06 release master release of 4.6.0 :
  • next commit on master would increment minor version to start new dev cycle
  • creation of maintenance branch 4.6
... ... ... ... ...
Slicer-4.6.0-2016-03-07-svn25180-linux-amd64 2016-03-07 development master nightly build after 4.6.0

Proposal #3

  • Development release ends with an "odd" number. For example: 4.7, 4.9, 5.1, 5.3
  • Stable release ends with an "even" number. For example: 4.8, 5.0, 5.2

Why ?

  • Slicer is "released" daily (aka nightly build) and it is confusing for the users. They do not know which version number refer to which version and issues created in mantis do not have a dedicated target.
  • With this new scheme in place, we can refer unambiguously to a version without specifying (X.Y the release, or X.Y the nightly)
  • Possible to distinguish between the pre- and the post- release. When we mention 4.8, it clearly relates to a version that contain all changes of 4.7.
  • Semantic versioning not applicable to an application, maintaining backward compatibility is done as a best effort and often "minor" breaking changes are included after communicating with users or updating the user code.

Extension package - Naming scheme

  • Create Extensions-XYZ-Nightly and Extensions-XYZ-Continuous tracks on CDash