Gem Versioning and Compatibility

Gem versioning is an important way to convey the kind of changes made to a gem.

O3DE Version Numbering

O3DE uses MAJOR.MINOR.PATCH semantic versioning for all the version fields in engine.json, gem.json and project.json files.

  • MAJOR is for API-breaking changes
  • MINOR is for non-API-breaking changes that add new APIs or change them in a non-breaking way
  • PATCH is for all other non-API-breaking changes, usually important fixes

Example: If a breaking API change is made to a gem at version 2.0.1 the MAJOR version is incremented and the MINOR and PATCH are reset to 0 resulting in the new version being 3.0.0. See the semantic versioning page for more examples.

O3DE Version Specifiers

Lists of compatible engines and dependencies use the <name><version specifier> format based on PEP 440 .


NameVersion SpecifierCombinedDescription
o3de>=2.0.0o3de>=2.0.0o3de version 2.0.0 or greater
o3de-sdk== 1.2.0o3de-sdk==1.2.0o3de-sdk version 1.2.0
Atom~=2.0.0Atom~=2.0.0Atom version 2.0.0 up to but not including 3.0.0

A gem that is known to be compatible with the an engine named o3de-sdk version 2.0.1 could include o3de-sdk==2.0.1 in the compatible_engines field in gem.json

Gem Version And Compatibility Information In gem.json

Gem version, dependency and compatibility information is stored in the gem.json file at the root of each gem. If the gem.json has no compatibility or dependency information in it, or the fields are empty, the gem is assumed to be compatible with all engines and have no gem dependencies.

versionThe `MAJOR.MINOR.PATCH` [semantic version]( that is updated as changes are made to the gem. Developers may use the `dependencies` field in `gem.json` to indicate other gem dependencies and the version ranges they are compatible with.
compatible_enginesA list of engine names and version specifiers that this gem is known to be compatible with. If empty, the gem is assumed compatible with all engines if they meet all the requirements in the `engine_api_dependencies` and `dependencies` fields.[ ]

This gem is compatible with an engine named o3de-sdk version 1.2.0, or any engine named o3de version 2.0.0 or greater.

engine_api_dependenciesA list of engine API dependencies. If empty, the gem is assumed compatible with all versions of any engine APIs.[ ]

This gem depends on the editor API version 1.0.0 or greater.

dependenciesAn optional list of gem dependencies.[ ]

This gem depends on a gem named Atom version 1.0.0 or greater and PhysX version 2.0.0.

platformA list of compatible platforms.[ ]

This gem is known to be compatible with Windows, Linux, Android and MacOS

Choosing Which Version Field To Use

The compatible_engines field is a simple way to list which engines your gem is known to be compatible with and the information in this field is shown to users in the Project Manager. The O3DE community maintains an engine SDK with the name o3de-sdk while the engine name in the GitHub source code is o3de, so its recommended to at least consider providing compatibility information for these commonly used engines.

At this time you may not use the engine display_version in the compatible_engines version specifiers, only the version.

The dependencies field should always be used to list direct gem dependencies, and if you don’t know what versions to depend on just include the gem name without the version specifier part.

Example: The following gem.json dependencies entry shows a dependency on any version of Atom, and PhysX version 1.0.0 or greater.

    "dependencies": [

If you know your gem is compatible with any engine so long as a gem dependency or API it depends on has no breaking changes, using the dependencies or engine_api_dependencies field will require fewer future updates.

Engine Gem Compatibility

Engine gems do not include version specifiers in their dependencies field or any compatible_engines or engine_api_dependencies because they are known to be compatible and tested with the engine APIs and other gems in the engine so maintaining compatibility information is not needed.

Registering Gem Versions

When using the o3de CLI or Project Manager to register a gem, it will check if the gem is compatible with the engine currently being used. If any issues are found, they will be displayed to the user and the gem will not be registered. If the user still wants to register the gem they can use the --force parameter to bypass the compatibility checks.

Gem Version Selection

Multiple versions of the same gem can be registered and different versions can be used by different projects. When a project is configured, the compatible gem with the highest version number will be selected.

Example: A project.json file specifies a gem dependency on foo>=1.0.0, if version 1.0.0 and 2.0.0 of a gem named foo are registered, the gem with the highest version, 2.0.0, will be used, as long as there are no compatibility issues with that gem. If the user wants to use 1.0.0 they can change the gem dependency in project.json to foo==1.0.0 to indicate version 1.0.0 should be used.

Gem Dependency Resolution

Gem dependency resolution is run when configuring a project with CMake to ensure the correct gems are used to build. If gem dependency resolution fails because a requirement cannot be met, an error message is displayed including the list of gems considered. Though not recommended, you may use the O3DE_DISABLE_GEM_DEPENDENCY_RESOLUTION CMake variable to disable gem dependency resolution if it is failing due to a bug, or it is unnecessary for your use case, for example, if you provide your own SDK with all the gems included and are not using any external gems in your project.