Table of Contents


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Versioning allows you to deterministically control the precise revisions of dependencies used by your project from within your manifest file.

See our guide to getting started with versioning.


Version schemes

Ports in vcpkg should attempt to follow the versioning conventions used by the package's authors. For that reason, when declaring a package's version the appropriate scheme should be used.

Each versioning scheme defines its own rules on what is a valid version string and more importantly the rules for how to sort versions using the same scheme.

The versioning schemes understood by vcpkg are:

Manifest property Versioning scheme
version For dot-separated numeric versions
version-semver For SemVer compliant versions
version-date For dates in the format YYYY-MM-DD
version-string For arbitrary strings

A manifest must contain only one version declaration.

NOTE: By design, vcpkg does not compare versions that use different schemes. For example, a package that has a version-string: 7.1.3 cannot be compared with the same package using version: 7.1.4, even if the conversion seems obvious.


Accepts version strings that follow a relaxed, dot-separated-, semver-like scheme.

The version is logically composed of dot-separated (.) numeric sections. Each section must contain an integer positive number with no leading zeroes.

The regex pattern for this versioning scheme is: (0|[1-9]\d*)(\.(0|[1-9]\d*))*

Sorting behavior: When comparing two versions, each section is compared from left to right by their numeric value, until the first difference is found. A version with the smallest set of sections takes precedence over another with a larger set of sections, given that all their preceding sections compare equally.

Example: 0 < 0.1 < 0.1.0 < 1 < 1.0.0 < 1.0.1 < 1.1< 2.0.0


Accepts version strings that follow semantic versioning conventions as described in the semantic versioning specification.

Sorting behavior: Strings are sorted following the rules described in the semantic versioning specification.

Example: 1.0.0-1 < 1.0.0-alpha < 1.0.0-beta < 1.0.0 < 1.0.1 < 1.1.0


Accepts version strings that can be parsed to a date following the ISO-8601 format YYYY-MM-DD. Disambiguation identifiers are allowed in the form of dot-separated-, positive-, integer-numbers with no leading zeroes.

This is the recommended versioning scheme for "Live at HEAD" libraries that don't have established release versions.

The regex pattern for this versioning scheme is: \d{4}-\d{2}-\d{2}(\.(0|[1-9]\d*))*

Sorting behavior: Strings are sorted first by their date part, then by numeric comparison of their disambiguation identifiers. Disambiguation identifiers follow the rules of the relaxed (version) scheme.

Examples: 2021-01-01 < 2021-01-01.1 < 2021-02-01.1.2 < 2021-02-01.1.3 < 2021-02-01


For packages using version strings that do not fit any of the other schemes, it accepts most arbitrary strings. The # which is used to denote port versions is disallowed.

Sorting behavior: No sorting is attempted on the version string itself. However, if the strings match exactly, their port versions can be compared and sorted.



A positive integer value that increases each time a vcpkg-specific change is made to the port.

The rules for port versions are:

NOTE: Whenever vcpkg output a version it follows the format <version>#<port version>. For example 1.2.0#2 means version 1.2.0 port version 2. When the port version is 0 the #0 suffix is omitted (1.2.0 implies version 1.2.0 port version 0).

Sorting behavior: If two versions compare equally, their port versions are compared by their numeric value, lower port versions take precedence.


Version constraints


Accepts a Git commit ID. vcpkg will try to find a baseline file in the given commit ID and use that to set the baseline versions (lower bounds) of all dependencies.

Baselines provide stability and ease of development for top-level manifest files. They are not considered from ports consumed as a dependency. If a minimum version constraint is required during transitive version resolution, the port should use version>=.


  "name": "project",
  "version": "1.0.0",
  "dependencies": ["zlib", "fmt"],

You can get the current commit of your vcpkg instance either by adding an empty "builtin-baseline" field, installing, and examining the error message or by running git rev-parse HEAD in the root of the vcpkg instance.

When resolving version constraints for a package, vcpkg will look for a baseline version by looking at the baseline file in the given commit ID. If the given commit ID doesn't have a versions/baseline.json file or if the baseline file exists but it does not declare a baseline version for the package the invocation will fail.


Expresses a minimum version requirement, version>= declarations put a lower boundary on the versions that can be used to satisfy a dependency.

Note: vcpkg selects the lowest version that matches all constraints, so a less-than constraint is not required.


  "name": "project",
  "version-semver": "1.0.0",
  "dependencies": [
    { "name": "zlib", "version>=": "1.2.11#9" },
    { "name": "fmt", "version>=": "7.1.3#1" }

As part of a version constraint declaration, a port version can be specified by adding the suffix #<port-version>, in the previous example 1.2.11#9 refers to version 1.2.11 port version 9.


Declaring an override forces vcpkg to ignore all other version constraints and use the version specified in the override. This is useful for pinning exact versions and for resolving version conflicts.

Overrides are declared as an array of package version declarations.

For an override to take effect, the overridden package must form part of the dependency graph. That means that a dependency must be declared either by the top-level manifest or be part of a transitive dependency.

  "name": "project",
  "version-semver": "1.0.0",
  "dependencies": [
    { "name": "zlib", "version>=": "1.2.11#9" },
  "overrides": [
    { "name": "fmt", "version": "6.0.0" }

Version files

vcpkg uses a set of metadata files to power its versioning feature.

These files are located in the following locations:

For example, for zlib the relevant files are:

The vcpkg public CI checks validate that each time a port is added or updated its respective version files are also updated.

Baseline file

The baseline file located in ${VCPKG_ROOT}/versions/baseline.json is used to declared the current baseline versions of all packages.

For example:

  "default": {
    "3fd": { "baseline": "2.6.3", "port-version": 0 },
    "7zip": { "baseline": "19.00", "port-version": 2 },
    "abseil": { "baseline": "2020-09-23", "port-version": 1 }

Provided that there are no local modifications to the ports, the versions of all packages in the baseline file should map to the version of their corresponding portfiles in the ports/ directory.

Versions file

Each port in vcpkg has a corresponding versions file, the location of a port's versions file follows the pattern:


For example, for zlib the corresponding versions file is:


These files contain an array of all the versions available for a given port. For example, the contents of versions/z-/zlib.json declare the following versions:

  "versions": [
      "git-tree": "827111046e37c98153d9d82bb6fa4183b6d728e4",
      "version-string": "1.2.11",
      "port-version": 9
      "git-tree": "068430e3e24fa228c302c808ba99f8a48d126557",
      "version-string": "1.2.11",
      "port-version": 8

Each version declared in this file uses the same syntax used in manifest files, but adds an extra git-tree property. The value of git-tree is the SHA hash, as calculated by Git, of the directory containing the portfiles for the declared version. You can ask Git for the object SHA via the syntax:

git rev-parse <commit>:<path>

For example,

git rev-parse HEAD:ports/zlib

Updating the version files

The recommended method to update these files is to run the x-add-version command.

For example, if you have made changes to zlib:

vcpkg x-add-version zlib

If you're updating multiple ports at the same time, instead you can run:

vcpkg x-add-version --all

To update the files for all modified ports at once.

NOTE: These commands require you to have committed your changes to the ports before running them. The reason is that the Git SHA of the port directory is required in these version files. But don't worry, the x-add-version command will warn you if you have local changes that haven't been committed.

See Also