Perpetual Beta

AppstoreThe typical (or traditional) software development cycle considers beta as the final round of testing before releasing to the publisher and/or public. Tim O’Reilly suggests however, that rather than trying to get the most perfect bug free piece of software released, perhaps just getting it done and out is more valuable.

Done is better than Perfect.

Obviously this comes with a pretty hefty set of caveats. Your software has to be functional, intuitive and ultimately – useful! But enabling your users to contribute to the Quality Assurance process and provide feedback (either knowingly or not) can give you some incredibly valuable insight to how the software is used and how to improve it.

Web vs iOS

Publishing software as Apps as opposed to on the Web ultimately does not afford you the same sorts of luxuries, especially on iOS in the Apple App Store. For example, releasing early and often can be done practically invisibly on a web platform, but doing so on an iDevice requires each revision to pass through a stringent approval process. This is according to some only a 6 day turnaround, so whilst not invisible it enables developers to incrementally create new products relatively quickly.

Even doing simple A/B testing on an iDevice does not come with any relative ease.

Whilst there have been a few attempts made at this, such as done by the Little Big Thinkers or one of the dudes at GitHub. The fact is, when the guys over at Tech Crunch interviewed Pathmapp CTO, Andrew Herman, he referred to it as a “massive gap in the market”.  So it’s clearly not as rudimental as you might think or expect. Users are however able to engage with the developers and rate their apps on the AppStore and some apps are coded to ask you to rate them at regular intervals. This will give you some level of insight, but perhaps not as useful.

So whilst developing apps for handheld iOS devices may have its downsides, they still remain one of the most popular. And considering that mobile computing is a major contributing factor to the way we use the web, many would argue that the downsides do not outweigh the up.

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About andrewdcook

Project Manager/Animator/Beer Snob

One response to “Perpetual Beta”

  1. Miss J says :

    nice post andrew, i personally believe there are not bug free software, there will always be a bug, that’s where the updates are available, i totally agree your point of view, “give you some incredibly valuable insight to how the software is used and how to improve it”, therefore, i think perpetual beta will remain quite important in web 2.0.

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