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Development Strategy


The Qiskit project is made up of several elements each performing different functionality. Each is independently useful and can be used on their own, but for convenience we provide this repository and meta-package to provide a single entrypoint to install all the elements at once. This is to simplify the install process and provide a unified interface to end users. However, because each Qiskit element has it’s own releases and versions some care is needed when dealing with versions between the different repositories. This document outlines the guidelines for dealing with versions and releases of both Qiskit elements and the meta-package.

For the rest of this guide the standard Semantic Versioning nomenclature will be used of: Major.Minor.Patch to refer to the different components of a version number. For example, if the version number was 0.7.1, then the major version is 0, the minor version 7, and the patch version 1.

Meta-package Version

The Qiskit meta-package version is an independent value that is determined by the releases of each of the elements being tracked. Each time we push a release to a tracked component (or add an element) the meta-package requirements, and version will need to be updated and a new release published. The timing should be coordinated with the release of elements to ensure that the meta-package releases track with element releases.

Adding New Elements

When a new Qiskit element is being added to the meta-package requirements, we need to increase the Minor version of the meta-package.

For example, if the meta-package is tracking 2 elements qiskit-aer and qiskit-terra and it’s version is 0.7.4. Then we release a new element qiskit-ignis that we intend to also have included in the meta-package. When we add the new element to the meta-package we increase the version to 0.8.0.

Patch Version Increases

When any Qiskit element that is being already tracked by the meta-package releases a patch version to fix bugs in a release we need also bump the requirement in the setup.py and then increase the patch version of the meta-package.

For example, if the meta-package is tracking 3 elements qiskit-terra==0.8.1, qiskit-aer==0.2.1, and qiskit-ignis==0.1.4 with the current version 0.9.6. When qiskit-terra release a new patch version to fix a bug 0.8.2 the meta-package will also need to increase it’s patch version and release, becoming 0.9.7.

Additionally, there are occasionally packaging or other bugs in the meta-package itself that need to be fixed by pushing new releases. When those are encountered we should increase the patch version to differentiate it from the broken release. Do not delete the broken or any old releases from pypi in any situation, instead just increase the patch version and upload a new release.

Minor Version Increases

Besides adding a new element to the meta-package the minor version of the meta-package should also be increased anytime a minor version is increased in a tracked element.

For example, if the meta-package is tracking 2 elements qiskit-terra==0.7.0 and qiskit-aer==0.1.1 and the current version is 0.7.5. When the qiskit-aer element releases 0.2.0 then we need to increase the meta-package version to be 0.8.0 to correspond to the new release.

Major Version Increases

The major version is different from the other version number components. Unlike the other version number components, which are updated in lock step with each tracked element, the major version is only increased when all tracked versions are bumped (at least before 1.0.0). Right now all the elements still have a major version number component of 0 and until each tracked element in the meta-repository is marked as stable by bumping the major version to be >=1 then the meta-package version should not increase the major version.

The behavior of the major version number component tracking after when all the elements are at >=1.0.0 has not been decided yet.

Qiskit Element Requirement Tracking

While not strictly related to the meta-package and Qiskit versioning how we track the element versions in the meta-package’s requirements list is important. Each element listed in the setup.py should be pinned to a single version. This means that each version of Qiskit should only install a single version for each tracked element. For example, the requirements list at any given point should look something like:

requirements = [

This is to aid in debugging, but also make tracking the versions across multiple elements more transparent.

It is also worth pointing out that the order we install the elements is critically important too. pip does not have a real dependency solver which means the installation order matters. So if there are overlapping requirements versions between elements or dependencies between elements we need to ensure that the order in the requirements list installs everything as expected. If the order needs to be change for some install time incompatibility it should be noted clearly.

Community Extensions

Qiskit has been designed with modularity in mind. It is extensible in many different ways; on the page, we highlight the ways in which the Qiskit community has engaged with Qiskit and developed extensions and packages on top of it.


The Qiskit base provider is an entity that provides access to a group of different backends (for example, backends available through IBM Quantum). It interacts with those backends to do many things: find out which ones are available, retrieve an instance of a particular backend, get backend properties and configurations, and handling running and working with jobs.

Additional providers

  • Decision diagram-based quantum simulator

    - Organization: Johannes Kepler University, Linz, Austria (Alwin Zulehner and Robert Wille)
    - Description: A local provider which allows Qiskit to use decision diagram-based quantum simulation
    - Qiskit Version: 0.7
  • Quantum Inspire

    - Organization: QuTech-Delft
    - Description: A provider for the Quantum Inspire backend
    - Qiskit Version: 0.7
    - More info: Medium Blog and GitHub.


Circuit optimization is at the heart of making quantum computing feasible on actual hardware. A central component of Qiskit is the transpiler, which is a framework for manipulating quantum circuits according to certain transformations (known as transpiler passes). The transpiler enables users to create customized sets of passes, orchestrated by a pass manager, to transform the circuit according to the rules specified by the passes. In addition, the transpiler architecture is designed for modularity and extensibility, enabling Qiskit users to write their own passes, use them in the pass manager, and combine them with existing passes. In this way, the transpiler architecture opens up the door for research into aggressive optimization of quantum circuits.

Additional passes

  • t|ket〉 optimization & routing pass

    - Organization: Cambridge Quantum Computing
    - Description: Transpiler pass for circuit optimization and mapping to backend using CQC’s t|ket〉compiler.
    - Qiskit Version: 0.7
    - More info: Tutorial Notebook and GitHub.


Extending Qiskit with new tools and functionality is an important part of building a community. These tools can be new visualizations, slack integration, Jupyter extensions and much more.

Additional Tools

  • OpenControls library

    - Organization: Q-CTRL
    - Description: Library of quantum control pulses derived from the open literature.
    - Qiskit Version: 0.7
    - More info: GitHub and Q-CTRL website