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April 23, 2005

Information for beta testers

This article contains information about how to participate in beta testing programs for Wincent products.

About the beta testing programs

The beta testing programs provide you with an opportunity to contribute to the development of Wincent products whether they be open source like WinSwitch or closed source like Synergy Advance. In the programs, pre-release builds are made available to participants for download. The participants report bugs or problems found in the build; Wincent then attempts to fix the problem and produces another build and the testers confirm that the problem no longer exists. Sometimes a beta will go through several test-and-fix cycles before release and on other occasions a beta will end up being released as the final product.

It is important to realize that participating in the beta program is hard work; it is not an opportunity to get free sneak peeks at unreleased software. The pre-release builds are unsupported software that have received only internal testing by Wincent. If you find a bug you are expected to do some work isolating the problem and the circumstances under which it occurs. If you are not prepared to file thorough bug reports you should not join the beta programs (see this article for tips on how to file a good bug report).

How to join the a beta testing program

All Wincent beta testing programs are coordinated via mailing lists. You join the program by subscribing to the mailing list and you can leave it by unsubscribing. Instructions for how to join or leave the mailing lists appear here.

How the programs work

When a new build is available on the servers Wincent sends an announcement to the corresponding beta mailing list for that product. If you discover problems when you download, install and test the build, you should do the following:

  1. Search the bugs database to see if the bug has already been reported. If it has, add your comments to the existing report; otherwise file a new report.
  2. If you filed a new report, notify the other beta testers by posting a reply to the mailing list. Be sure to include a link to your bug report. In this way, everyone in the program can keep up-to-date on which bugs have been reported. (Your replies to the mailing list will be moderated by Wincent to prevent spam from getting through to the list, but they will not otherwise be modified.)

Once a piece of software enters beta testing no more new features will be added prior to release; the focus of the beta phase is eliminating bugs. As such you should not post any feature requests back to the mailing list (you are should post your feature requests to the bug tracking database, but in doing so you are submitting requests for a future release of the product and not for the version currently under beta testing).

Non-disclosure and confidentiality

Unless otherwise specified non-disclosure (confidentiality) generally applies to all Wincent beta releases. This means that the software is not for public discussion or redistribution; the appropriate forum for discussing the beta releases is on the corresponding beta mailing list and in the bug tracking database.

Are free licenses available for beta testers?

No. Due to the number of people volunteering for beta testing it is not possible to give away free licenses to beta testers.

Posted by wincent at April 23, 2005 12:06 AM