Archive for the ‘Perpetual Beta’ Tag

Foundation of web 2.0 – Pattern Six: Perpetual Beta “Dropbox”

The internet has change the way software developers are looking at the traditional software development and delivery process. What web 2.0 technologies have done is bring and end the idea of downloading and installing a particular version of software and introduce a new process of software evolving regularly and relies on a new breed of software testers, the users. For many years there one only one online application you would think about when it came to perpetual beta’s and that was gmail, up until recently when the Google App Suite was formally out of beta. I’ve already mentioned this piece of software in a previous blog entry, and still continue to use it daily. Dropbox has been in beta since September of 2008 and allows users to join up and use the server through a private beta system. As it stands it has released 17 versions for windows, OSX and linux. These updates have been coming at a very regular interval to all the platforms, which for many services some platforms may be left out from initial release, and incorporate later in the development tree. Prime example is the release of Google Crome, lacking OSX support at the initial release, which has puzzled many users.

The feedback for the updates have manly come from users of the private beat as there is the ability for submission of feature requests as well as vote of other users proposed updates. On the feature request site they have broken up the features as short, mid and long term goals. Not only does this help the developers with understanding the users, but it builds a relationship with its users, as they have implemented a wiki to allow the flow of information. At the moment their service is run of a amazon s3 back end so this could come into availability problems with the service.

So it can be seen that Dropbox is feeding off the wider community to help understand the use cases present and close the gap between building and then running the software. What this can mean to Enterprises looking at establishing their produce online is, scope how to best translate the already existing software development cycle into a more agile iterative approach. Where initially look at trailing smaller project teams and learn from the process of transition to a web 2.0 environment. As a side note the new office 2010 as mention in the pattern five, should be a interesting beta process to be apart of, and ideal example of a large organisation (Microsoft) turning towards an online alternative to their traditional desktop based software.

Series So Far

Pattern Five: Software Above the level of a Single Device

Pattern Four: Rich User Experience “Google Docs”
Pattern Three: Innovation in Assembly “Google Maps”
Pattern Two: Data is the Next ‘Intel Inside’ “Flickr”
Pattern One: Harnessing Collective Intelligence “Digg”