Release Cycles and Versions

Release Cycles and Versions

Release Cycles and Versions

With the closed beta test of our desktop client kicking off I felt this would be a good time to state my opinion on something boring and technical, release cycles and version numbers. It’s something that happens at every software company and the majority of people don’t look too deep into it but I consider it very important. Internally as we work along and add features and fix bugs we place those changes into a central repository (version control) that allows us to see what changes have been made and by who along with a time-stamp. This becomes very helpful when you have multiple people working together because it allows the repository to know when changes overlap and conflict thus requiring the uploader to manually, and somethings automatically, merge the changes to a point that they do not break each other. It works very well the majority of the time.

With each change you could consider that a new version of the software. For instance lets say we started at version 0.0.0 and I upload the first change, well we are now at 0.0.1. And each change would then increase the last number by 1 so on and so forth. So how do we increase the second or even the first? Well convention for those numbers is usually MAJOR.MINOR meaning when minor releases are done you increase the second number and for major changes the first. The only issue is what is considered major and minor is usually up to debate and will probably never come to a consensus.

Now onto a slightly different concept is how alpha and beta releases are handled. People may be familiar with betas because Google’s GMail was in ‘beta’ for a quite a while and for any gamers reading alpha releases have become a popular thing to do by indie developers. So what does each one mean? This isn’t always followed but I’ve normally heard and consider that an alpha release is a non-feature-complete release meaning that things are missing that will eventually be added along with bugs. Beta is a feature-complete version of the software but remains buggy. So our beta release is considered feature-complete but probably buggy. This doesn’t mean it wont get better looking and have UI changes but for the most part it’s complete. Alpha and Beta do not really correspond to version numbers because you could have a piece of software that has version 1.0.5 which is beta and 1.1.1 that is a fully released.

Will all that being said our beta is considered v0.1 and we hope that everyone who was chosen enjoys and and it isn’t too buggy! =]

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