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Datasets versioning


Versioning can refer to different meaning:

  • The TFDS API version (pip version): tfds.version
  • The public dataset version, independent from TFDS (e.g. Voc2007, Voc2012). In TFDS each public dataset version should be implemented as an independent dataset:
    • Either through builder configs: E.g. voc/2007, voc/2012
    • Either as 2 independent datasets: E.g. wmt13_translate, wmt14_translate
  • The dataset generation code version in TFDS (my_dataset:1.0.0): For example, if a bug is found in the TFDS implementation of voc/2007, the voc.py generation code will be updated (voc/2007:1.0.0 -> voc/2007:2.0.0).

The rest of this guide only focus on the last definition (dataset code version in the TFDS repository).

Supported versions

As a general rule:

  • Only the last current version can be generated.
  • All previously generated dataset can be read (note: This require datasets generated with TFDS 4+).
builder = tfds.builder('my_dataset')
builder.info.version  # Current version is: '2.0.0'

# download and load the last available version (2.0.0)
ds = tfds.load('my_dataset')

# Explicitly load a previous version (only works if
# `~/tensorflow_datasets/my_dataset/1.0.0/` already exists)
ds = tfds.load('my_dataset:1.0.0')


Every DatasetBuilder defined in TFDS comes with a version, for example:

class MNIST(tfds.core.GeneratorBasedBuilder):
  VERSION = tfds.core.Version('2.0.0')
      '1.0.0': 'Initial release',
      '2.0.0': 'Update dead download url',

The version follows Semantic Versioning 2.0.0: MAJOR.MINOR.PATCH. The purpose of the version is to be able to guarantee reproducibility: loading a given dataset at a fixed version yields the same data. More specifically:

  • If PATCH version is incremented, data as read by the client is the same, although data might be serialized differently on disk, or the metadata might have changed. For any given slice, the slicing API returns the same set of records.
  • If MINOR version is incremented, existing data as read by the client is the same, but there is additional data (features in each record). For any given slice, the slicing API returns the same set of records.
  • If MAJOR version is incremented, the existing data has been changed and/or the slicing API doesn't necessarily return the same set of records for a given slice.

When a code change is made to the TFDS library and that code change impacts the way a dataset is being serialized and/or read by the client, then the corresponding builder version is incremented according to the above guidelines.

Note that the above semantic is best effort, and there might be un-noticed bugs impacting a dataset while the version was not incremented. Such bugs are eventually fixed, but if you heavily rely on the versioning, we advise you to use TFDS from a released version (as opposed to HEAD).

Also note that some datasets have another versioning scheme independent from the TFDS version. For example, the Open Images dataset has several versions, and in TFDS, the corresponding builders are open_images_v4, open_images_v5, ...

Loading a specific version

When loading a dataset or a DatasetBuilder, you can specify the version to use. For example:


tfds.load('imagenet2012:2.0.0')  # Error: unsupported version.

# Resolves to 3.0.0 for now, but would resolve to 3.1.1 if when added.

If using TFDS for a publication, we advise you to:

  • fix the MAJOR component of the version only;
  • advertise which version of the dataset was used in your results.

Doing so should make it easier for your future self, your readers and reviewers to reproduce your results.

BUILDER_CONFIGS and versions

Some datasets define several BUILDER_CONFIGS. When that is the case, version and supported_versions are defined on the config objects themselves. Other than that, semantics and usage are identical. For example:

class OpenImagesV4(tfds.core.GeneratorBasedBuilder):

            tfds.core.Version('1.0.0', "Major change in data"),
          description='Images at their original resolution and quality.'),


Experimental version

It is possible to allow 2 versions to be generated at the same time. One default and one experimental version. For example:

class MNIST(tfds.core.GeneratorBasedBuilder):
  VERSION = tfds.core.Version("1.0.0")  # Default version
      tfds.core.Version("2.0.0"),  # Experimental version

# Download and load default version 1.0.0
builder = tfds.builder('mnist')

#  Download and load experimental version 2.0.0
builder = tfds.builder('mnist', version='experimental_latest')

In the code, you need to make sure to support the 2 versions:

class MNIST(tfds.core.GeneratorBasedBuilder):


  def _generate_examples(self, path):
    if self.info.version >= '2.0.0':