What's a beta, anyway?

BlogBridge is getting ready to go into a limited beta test. The purpose is to get some early feedback on the basic User Interface model and the overall product vision. If you are interested in participating, please send an email to email@blogbridge.com.

Doing a beta when you are operating a, shall we say, boutique software shop, is a different experience. The number of loose ends, bugs, procedural and process things that need to be nailed down are overwhelming.

The Web Site is being revised to reflect this new phase of work. The totally out in the open Functional Specification has been moved to a private area, a Wiki in fact. The thinking is that now that things are getting more real, and my hack is turning into a real product, it makes you think about where things might lead.

I've often said, and this experience seems to confirm it, that the degree of openness on a project seems to need to vary with the phase one is in.

In the very early, very formative stages of a product, being very open about future ideas and plans can only help. I believe that 'ideas are cheap' (pretty cheap, anyway) and that the value you get from sharing them with others generally outweighs whatever drawbacks it might have.

However, as you become ready to launch, being in stealth has it's advantages. For one thing you haven't settled on a strategy and you want to keep options open.

At this point my guestimate is that we are within a week of opening up the beta to about 10 people to start, and plan to ramp that up over the next months, while constantly adding features and removing bugs.
Posted on June 2, 2004 and filed under BlogBridge.