Monday, November 28, 2005


I think a great definition for beta is things that are feature complete, but not yet fully tested. If you want to do a release that is not feature complete- whatever your definition of complete is- I would go with a 0.x numbering scheme. The guy in this WSJ article who says his site is beta because he hasn't finished all of the features yet, seems to be a little misguided. It would seem that beta has come to mean "not finished", as opposed to "not fully tested".

I blame Google for this, although everyone else is getting in on the game as well. If you call your first live public site a "beta", it doesn't leave you a lot of room for improvement. I think the expectation this it lets you get away with buggy software, which is entirely different from incomplete software, is a bad expectation to create. In fact, one could argue that few software products are really complete (even after they begin sending email). From agile perspective, we should be getting more comfortable with releasing evolutionary products, but they should products where a limited set of features work correctly, and the ones that don't are not included.