This document is for users who need backwards compatibility across different versions of TensorFlow (either for code or data), and for developers who want to modify TensorFlow while preserving compatibility.
TensorFlow follows Semantic Versioning 2.0 (semver) for its public API. Each release version of TensorFlow has the form
MAJOR.MINOR.PATCH. For example, TensorFlow version 1.2.3 has
MAJOR version 1,
MINOR version 2, and
PATCH version 3. Changes to each number have the following meaning:
MAJOR: Potentially backwards incompatible changes. Code and data that worked with a previous major release will not necessarily work with the new release. However, in some cases existing TensorFlow graphs and checkpoints may be migratable to the newer release; see Compatibility of graphs and checkpoints for details on data compatibility.
MINOR: Backwards compatible features, speed improvements, etc. Code and data that worked with a previous minor release and which depends only on the public API will continue to work unchanged. For details on what is and is not the public API, see What is covered.
PATCH: Backwards compatible bug fixes.
For example, release 1.0.0 introduced backwards incompatible changes from release 0.12.1. However, release 1.1.1 was backwards compatible with release 1.0.0.
Only the public APIs of TensorFlow are backwards compatible across minor and patch versions. The public APIs consist of
tensorflowmodule and its submodules, except for
_(as these are private) Note that the code in the
tools/directories is not reachable through the
tensorflowPython module and is thus not covered by the compatibility guarantee.
If a symbol is available through the
tensorflow Python module or its submodules, but is not documented, then it is not considered part of the public API.
The C API.
The following protocol buffer files:
Some API functions are explicitly marked as "experimental" and can change in backward incompatible ways between minor releases. These include:
Experimental APIs: The
tf.contrib module and its submodules in Python and any functions in the C API or fields in protocol buffers that are explicitly commented as being experimental.
Other languages: TensorFlow APIs in languages other than Python and C, such as:
Details of composite ops: Many public functions in Python expand to several primitive ops in the graph, and these details will be part of any graphs saved to disk as
GraphDefs. These details may change for minor releases. In particular, regressions tests that check for exact matching between graphs are likely to break across minor releases, even though the behavior of the graph should be unchanged and existing checkpoints will still work.
Floating point numerical details: The specific floating point values computed by ops may change at any time. Users should rely only on approximate accuracy and numerical stability, not on the specific bits computed. Changes to numerical formulas in minor and patch releases should result in comparable or improved accuracy, with the caveat that in machine learning improved accuracy of specific formulas may result in decreased accuracy for the overall system.
Random numbers: The specific random numbers computed by the random ops may change at any time. Users should rely only on approximately correct distributions and statistical strength, not the specific bits computed. However, we will make changes to random bits rarely (or perhaps never) for patch releases. We will, of course, document all such changes.
Version skew in distributed Tensorflow: Running two different versions of TensorFlow in a single cluster is unsupported. There are no guarantees about backwards compatibility of the wire protocol.
Bugs: We reserve the right to make backwards incompatible behavior (though not API) changes if the current implementation is clearly broken, that is, if it contradicts the documentation or if a well-known and well-defined intended behavior is not properly implemented due to a bug. For example, if an optimizer claims to implement a well-known optimization algorithm but does not match that algorithm due to a bug, then we will fix the optimizer. Our fix may break code relying on the wrong behavior for convergence. We will note such changes in the release notes.
Error messages: We reserve the right to change the text of error messages. In addition, the type of an error may change unless the type is specified in the documentation. For example, a function documented to raise an
InvalidArgument exception will continue to raise
InvalidArgument, but the human-readable message contents can change.
You'll sometimes need to preserve graphs and checkpoints. Graphs describe the data flow of ops to be run during training and inference, and checkpoints contain the saved tensor values of variables in a graph.
Many TensorFlow users save graphs and trained models to disk for later evaluation or additional training, but end up running their saved graphs or models on a later release. In compliance with semver, any graph or checkpoint written out with one version of TensorFlow can be loaded and evaluated with a later version of TensorFlow with the same major release. However, we will endeavor to preserve backwards compatibility even across major releases when possible, so that the serialized files are usable over long periods of time.
Graphs are serialized via the
GraphDef protocol buffer. To facilitate (rare) backwards incompatible changes to graphs, each
GraphDef has a version number separate from the TensorFlow version. For example,
GraphDef version 17 deprecated the
inv op in favor of
reciprocal. The semantics are:
Each version of TensorFlow supports an interval of
GraphDef versions. This interval will be constant across patch releases, and will only grow across minor releases. Dropping support for a
GraphDef version will only occur for a major release of TensorFlow.
Newly created graphs are assigned the latest
GraphDef version number.
If a given version of TensorFlow supports the
GraphDef version of a graph, it will load and evaluate with the same behavior as the TensorFlow version used to generate it (except for floating point numerical details and random numbers), regardless of the major version of TensorFlow. In particular, all checkpoint files will be compatible.
GraphDef upper bound is increased to X in a (minor) release, there will be at least six months before the lower bound is increased to X. For example (we're using hypothetical version numbers here):
GraphDefversions 4 to 7.
GraphDefversion 8 and support versions 4 to 8.
Finally, when support for a
GraphDef version is dropped, we will attempt to provide tools for automatically converting graphs to a newer supported
This section is relevant only when making incompatible changes to the
GraphDef format, such as when adding ops, removing ops, or changing the functionality of existing ops. The previous section should suffice for most users.
Our versioning scheme has three requirements:
Note that while the
GraphDef version mechanism is separate from the TensorFlow version, backwards incompatible changes to the
GraphDef format are still restricted by Semantic Versioning. This means functionality can only be removed or changed between
MAJOR versions of TensorFlow (such as
2.0). Additionally, forward compatibility is enforced within Patch releases (
1.x.2 for example).
To achieve backward and forward compatibility and to know when to enforce changes in formats, graphs and checkpoints have metadata that describes when they were produced. The sections below detail the TensorFlow implementation and guidelines for evolving
There are different data versions for graphs and checkpoints. The two data formats evolve at different rates from each other and also at different rates from TensorFlow. Both versioning systems are defined in
core/public/version.h. Whenever a new version is added, a note is added to the header detailing what changed and the date.
We distinguish between the following kinds of data version information: producers: binaries that produce data. Producers have a version (
producer) and a minimum consumer version that they are compatible with (
min_consumer). consumers: binaries that consume data. Consumers have a version (
consumer) and a minimum producer version that they are compatible with (
Each piece of versioned data has a
VersionDef versions field which records the
producer that made the data, the
min_consumer that it is compatible with, and a list of
bad_consumers versions that are disallowed.
By default, when a producer makes some data, the data inherits the producer's
bad_consumers can be set if specific consumer versions are known to contain bugs and must be avoided. A consumer can accept a piece of data if the following are all true:
consumernot in data's
Since both producers and consumers come from the same TensorFlow code base,
core/public/version.h contains a main data version which is treated as either
consumer depending on context and both
min_producer (needed by producers and consumers, respectively). Specifically,
GraphDefversions, we have
This section explains how to use this versioning mechanism to make different types of changes to the
Add the new Op to both consumers and producers at the same time, and do not change any
GraphDef versions. This type of change is automatically backward compatible, and does not impact forward compatibility plan since existing producer scripts will not suddenly use the new functionality.
min_consumer, since models that do not use this Op should not break.
GraphDefversion and implement new consumer functionality that bans the removed Op or functionality for GraphDefs at the new version and above. If possible, make TensorFlow stop producing
GraphDefswith the banned functionality. To do so, add the
min_producerto the GraphDef version from (2) and remove the functionality entirely.
SomethingV2or similar and go through the process of adding it and switching existing Python wrappers to use it, which may take three weeks if forward compatibility is desired.
min_consumerto rule out consumers with the old Op, add back the old Op as an alias for
SomethingV2, and go through the process to switch existing Python wrappers to use it.
GraphDefversion and add the bad version to
bad_consumersfor all new GraphDefs. If possible, add to
bad_consumersonly for GraphDefs which contain a certain Op or similar.
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Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution License 3.0.
Code samples licensed under the Apache 2.0 License.