Design Element
Comment on "Paying for Beta Software"
by Scott Stevenson — Dec 26
@Ted The problem is many developers have extended beta to equal = still implementing new features, may contain bugs

Your comment made me look at this with different eyes. When the term beta and alpha were originally given to software, the various parts of an application were much more tightly entangled. A lot of those programs were just one big file of code.

In Cocoa, the various pieces of an app are loosely coupled, and much of the low-level parts are stock classes. You don't have to roll your own memory management, archiving, and so on. It's pretty common for the application base to be solid, but the various branches off the base are still being figured out. Particularly on Mac OS X, developers start with a general set of requirements, and allow the details to evolve as necessary.

I don't know if feature complete is really common as its own landmark anymore. The usual process is to get the core working and stable, then build off of that, adding one chunk of functionality at a time. You generally don't move on to the next feature until the current one is essentially complete. As a result, feature complete is a stone's throw from "ready for release."

If I see something labeled as alpha, I think there's a low chance it's going to work right at all, so I generally don't bother. We either need to allow beta to mean "stable, but feature incomplete" (which, frankly it is already does), or we need to invent a new term. The term alpha just doesn't cut it.
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