Version constraints in JSON files

While running through my "recent" 11ty upgrade I got caught out by a version contain syntax difference between Composer and NPM.

I use Composer a lot at work so am used to the syntax it has - this whole post centres around the caret (^).

When specifying a package and a version, the caret signifies:

  • on NPM ^2.0.0 installs 2.x.x (All minor versions)
  • on Composer ^2.0.0 installs 2.0.x (Only bug fixes)

Composer allows the last number you specify to be incremented freely, so you can set ^2.0 to get all minor versions and bug fixes for version 2.

To be a bit more verbose, if our package had the following tags:

  • 1.1.0
  • 1.1.1
  • 1.1.2
  • 1.2.0
  • 1.2.1

On Composer:

If you had ^1.1.0 you would go up to 1.1.2 If you put ^1.1 you would get all the way up 1.2.1


  • If you had ^1.1.0 you would go up to 1.2.1
  • If you put ^1.1 you would get all the way up 1.2.1
  • If you wanted just bug fixes, you would do ~1.1.0 which would stop at 1.1.2

It's a small difference that could have a big impact on the packages your site uses.

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Mike Street

Written by Mike Street

Mike is a CTO and Lead Developer from Brighton, UK. He spends his time writing, cycling and coding. You can find Mike on Mastodon.