Today I Learned

Comparing Version Strings in Ruby

While writing a Ruby script, I needed to check the the version of a binary dependancy. The --version switch gets me the data, but how to compare to the required version?

The binary follows semver, so a quick and dirty attempt might be:

"1.4.2".gsub(".", "") >= "1.3.1".gsub(".", "")
# => true

Unfortunately, this is misleading: we are lexicographically comparing the strings and these strings happen to have the same length. Thus, "142" comes after "131".

Testing that version "1.200.0" is newer than "1.9.0" will fail as "120" comes before "190".

It would be straight-forward to write a small class to parse the string and compare the major, minor, and patch values. But, Ruby has a quick solution provided by RubyGems. Since Ruby 1.9, RubyGems has been included in Ruby's standard library:

Gem::Version.new("1.200.1") >= Gem::Version.new("1.3.1")
# => true

Gem also provides a way handle pessimistic constraints:

dependency = Gem::Dependency.new("", "~> 1.3.1")
dependency.match?("", "1.3.9")
# => true
dependency.match?("", "1.4.1")
# => false