Re: Frequent Interim Software Releases (long)

Subject: Re: Frequent Interim Software Releases (long)
From: Sue Heim <sue -at- RIS -dot- RISINC -dot- COM>
Date: Wed, 21 May 1997 15:44:07 -0700

Melinda wrote:
> Our situation:
> Version 4.0 was scheduled to release Oct 1. Accordingly, manuals went to =
> press Sept 1. Due to marketing adding new features late in the cycle, =
> release actually happened in Nov. Of course, since the manuals were =
> already at press, we were unable to document the new features except in =
> the helps and readme file.
<snip lotsa interims>
> Today, I learned that another (4.1a??) release is tentatively scheduled =
> for Sept.

Have ya ever heard of ye olde "shooting at a moving target?" <grin>

> My questions:
> 1) Are frequent releases common in other software companies? Is this =
> more normal for a small company than a large one?

I think your releases are excessive. If there were that many changes,
that leads me to believe the initial product was pretty unstable.
Granted, marketing threw ya a curve ball, but the UI (and
features/functionality) should have been frozen.

> 2) What is the best way to handle documenting these changes? Should we =
> print one version of the manual for each main (e.g., 3.0, 4.0, etc.) =
> version of the software and then leave everything else in the readme and =
> helps? Oftentimes changes are not limited to new features--a current =
> feature might change or options might be added to existing dialog boxes.

I'd include a written (printed) addendum to the manual for the minor
releases (3.01, 4.1). And yes, reprint the manuals for the major releases (3.0,
4.0). I'd also do as you've done -- include the changes in readme's
and the online help.

I guess you could call it job security, but I'd also call it
extremely frustrating. That's an awkward situation to be in.

Sue Heim
Research Information Systems
Carlsbad, California USA
Email: Sue -at- ris -dot- risinc -dot- com

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