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libcurl's binary interface
ABI - Application Binary Interface
First, allow me to define the word for this context: ABI describes the
low-level interface between an application program and a library. Calling
conventions, function arguments, return values, struct sizes/defines and
For a longer description, see
In the vast majority of all cases, a typical libcurl upgrade does not break
the ABI at all. Your application can remain using libcurl just as before,
only with less bugs and possibly with added new features. You need to read
the release notes, and if they mention an ABI break/soname bump, you may
have to verify that your application still builds fine and uses libcurl as
it now is defined to work.
Version Numbers
In libcurl land, you really can't tell by the libcurl version number if that
libcurl is binary compatible or not with another libcurl version.
Soname Bumps
Whenever there are changes done to the library that will cause an ABI
breakage, that may require your application to get attention or possibly be
changed to adhere to new things, we will bump the soname. Then the library
will get a different output name and thus can in fact be installed in
parallel with an older installed lib (on most systems). Thus, old
applications built against the previous ABI version will remain working and
using the older lib, while newer applications build and use the newer one.
During the first seven years of libcurl releases, there have only been four
ABI breakages.
Going to an older libcurl version from one you're currently using can be a
tricky thing. Mostly we add features and options to newer libcurls as that
won't break ABI or hamper existing applications. This has the implication
that going backwards may get you in a situation where you pick a libcurl
that doesn't support the options your application needs. Or possibly you
even downgrade so far so you cross an ABI break border and thus a different
soname, and then your application may need to adapt to the modified ABI.
The previous major library soname number bumps (breaking backwards
compatibility) have happened the following times:
0 - libcurl 7.1, August 2000
1 - libcurl 7.5 December 2000
2 - libcurl 7.7 March 2001
3 - libcurl 7.12.0 June 2004
4 - libcurl 7.16.0 October 2006