Dropping Support For Old Ruby Versions

Posted 29 February 2016 by Natalie Weizenbaum

As of version 3.5, Ruby Sass will drop support for Ruby 1.8.7 and Ruby 1.9.3. We will continue to support Ruby 2.0.0 and higher.

Ruby 1.8.7 was retired by the Ruby maintainers in June 2013, and Ruby 1.9.3 was retired in February 2015. Despite that, we continued to maintain support for older versions because Ruby 1.8.7 was installed by default on Mac OS X through Mountain Lion (which was released in July 2012).

There are many users of Sass who aren’t independently users of Ruby. We wanted to minimize the amount of work these users need to do to use Sass, which means letting it run on their machine without also requiring them to install a new language.

That decision wasn’t without costs, though. Most seriously, recent versions of the listen package didn’t support older Ruby versions, and older versions of RubyGems weren’t clever enough to avoid downloading them on incompatible Ruby versions. To work around this, we bundled an older version of listen with Sass and used it for users who didn’t have a compatible version installed elsewhere, but this produced constant compatibility headaches.

These headaches led us to reevaluate our policy for supporting older Ruby versions. We still cared a lot about users’ built-in Ruby versions, but we couldn’t support them forever. We needed a way to determine when the benefit of dropping support outweighed the costs.

We decided to use the analytics data for sass-lang.com to approximate the proportion of our user base that was still using operating systems that shipped with old Ruby versions. Before we looked at the data, we decided that we would drop support for a Ruby version if it had been retired by the Ruby maintainers, and less than 2% of our visitors across the previous month were using an OS that shipped it by default.

Once we did that, we looked at the data. 34.3% of our visitors were using OS X, and 1.4% of OS X users were using Mountain Lion or earlier. We were clearly able to drop support for 1.8.7. In addition, 1.9.3 was never shipped with OS X so we were able to drop it as well. Ruby 2.0.0, despite retired last week, was shipped with the most recent OS X version—we won’t be dropping support for it any time soon.

sass-lang.com visitors by operating system

For Sass 3.4, we’re just planning on printing deprecation messages for users of deprecated Ruby versions. But once 3.5 releases, support will be fully dropped and we’ll switch to using listen as a proper gem dependency. If you’re on an older version of OS X and you haven’t upgraded your Ruby version, there are some simple instructions on the Ruby site for how to do so easily using Homebrew.