Design Element
Comment on "Paying for Beta Software"
by Scott Stevenson — Dec 27
@Frank 'viperteq' Young: If you as a developer don't know how everything is supposed to work under the hood of your software then you need to sit back, chill out, figure it out and then ship
I think you probably got the wrong impression from what I said. I wasn't suggesting this is a case were things are still being figured out "under the hood" (which I'd think of as data model, persistence, memory management and so on). What I mean is what's exposed to the user at the surface (the workflow, if you will) is likely to evolve not just during beta, but throughout the lifetime of the product.

If you look at the most successful engineering organizations today with the highest number of happy users (Apple, Google), they understand that trying to figure out the details before shipping is a waste of time because the nature of successful software is evolution.

Mac OS X 10.0 is hardly recognizable as what we think of as Mac OS X today because it has evolved so much. What 10.0 did have was a solid foundation which could be built on. As far as I can tell, Apple doesn't particularly treat each major release as "done," just a station stop in a continually-moving train. The best thing Apple could do for Mac OS X is to get the first solid version out and into circulation.

The idea of perfection before shipping is, I think, an illusion. You make sure it's reliable, and polish the user-level features to 80-90%, then ship. Any more than that is a waste of time because things are going to change anyway. I suspect (though don't know) that the Delicious Monster folks that you mention would agree.

so people are looking for other ways to get their software out to the people and get paid
I don't think that's it. You learn more by releasing something solid and stripped down than holding onto your code until you reach some sort of arbitrary feature perfection. If you've ever been to WWDC, and heard a Pixar rep talk about their software process, you'll hear the same thing. You don't want to end up with a product that has all sorts of code implementated for things that doesn't matter to most people.

In fact, I bet if you ask Gus Mueller, he'll tell you about all sorts of features or polish he wanted to get in but had to draw the line somewhere to get the first version out. To you, it's (nearly) perfect. To the developer, it's work in progress. It's the classic programmer dilemma.

All of this is, of course, my opinion based on my experiences. Yours may be different.
Back to "Paying for Beta Software"
Design Element

Copyright © Scott Stevenson 2004-2015