The first rule of Fight Club is – you do not talk about Fight Club. The second rule of Fight Club is – you DO NOT talk about Fight Club.
Beta isn’t quite the big secret that is used to be, but it’s still under NDA. Lots more people are getting involved with every release. The first beta I was involved in with Adesk, a friend pulled me aside and clued me in to how to be a better Beta tester. I’m not an expert at this by any means (See Lee Ambrosius!) but in the interest of public service, I give you,
The Rules of Beta
- Beta is not a wishlist. I don’t think this can be emphasized enough. The code is done, and it’s pretty likely nothing new is being added. Really. Nothing. OK, maybe some minor stuff, but no new features. This is feature creep and to be avoided at all costs. Feature creep gets you R13.
- It’s never as simple as it looks, and the law of unintended consequences is a real bitch. What we as outsiders view as simple modifications often lead to deeper levels of complexity in a real hurry. It took me a long time to believe this one.
- What you want is not what everyone else wants. It’s possibly not even what the guy down the street wants. Remember that C3D is a global product, and every bit of coding probably means more coding in 12 other languages. We in the US are a small part of the C3D market!
- Beta testing without a backup plan is fun, but foolhardy. Trust me on this. I managed to hose my machine to the point of FDISK last year. Backup, use VMWare, do something…unless you really enjoy the reformat on a Tuesday night.
- It’s about functionality, not appearance. Much of the time, the icons, dialogs, etc. are still in development during the beta testing cycle. Try not to get spun up about a dialog, test the function!
- Reproduce. No, not like that. When you encounter an issue, try it again. If you can’t reproduce on your own machine, how can you possibly expect an analyst to reproduce the issue on their machine thousands of miles away with none of the same junk on his or her machine.
- Document. Document. Document. A random error message without the details steps isn’t very helpful. Many of the same error messages can be generated from different places in the program, so knowing how you got there is absolutely crucial.
- Be nice. There are real humans on the other end of the process, people who have poured their careers into what you’re now labeling a disaster. This is another one I still fight with, but knowing how much effort and personal attention the dev teams put into their product makes it easier.
What else? Beta team folks? Long time testers? What else should every new beta player now? Comment below! Beta is an important chance to feedback to the dev team, so do it right!
Fight Club and Road House in one post, that has to be some kind of weird first.