Versioning and Compatibility

The goal is to be ABI-compatible across releases. Hence, a few choices were made:

  • Most structures do not contain embedded fields or functions, but instead use free functions, making it easy to add new functions.

  • Enumerations are defined via typedef/#define.

Of course, we can never add/remove/change struct members, and we can never change the signatures of existing functions.

In ADBC 1.1.0, it was decided this would only apply to the “public” API, and not the driver-internal API (AdbcDriver). New members were added to this struct in the 1.1.0 revision. Compatibility is handled as follows:

The driver entrypoint, AdbcDriverInitFunc, is given a version and a pointer to a table of function pointers to initialize (the AdbcDriver). The size of the table will depend on the version; when a new version of ADBC is accepted, then a new table of function pointers may be expanded. For each version, the driver knows the expected size of the table, and must not read/write fields beyond that size. If/when we add a new ADBC version, the following scenarios are possible:

  • An updated client application uses an old driver library. The client will pass a version field greater than what the driver recognizes, so the driver will return ADBC_STATUS_NOT_IMPLEMENTED and the client can decide whether to abort or retry with an older version.

  • An old client application uses an updated driver library. The client will pass a version lower than what the driver recognizes, so the driver can either error, or if it can still implement the old API contract, initialize the subset of the table corresponding to the older version.

This approach does not let us change the signatures of existing functions, but we can add new functions and remove existing ones.


ADBC is versioned separately from the core Arrow project. The API standard and components (driver manager, drivers) are also versioned separately, but both follow semantic versioning.

For example: components may make backwards-compatible releases as 1.0.0, 1.0.1, 1.1.0, 1.2.0, etc. They may release backwards-incompatible versions such as 2.0.0, but which still implement the API standard version 1.0.0.

Similarly, this documentation describes the ADBC API standard version 1.1.0. If/when a compatible revision is made (e.g. new standard options or API functions are defined), the next version would be 1.2.0. If incompatible changes are made (e.g. changing the signature or semantics of a function), the next version would be 2.0.0.