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Encyclopedia > Development stage
Software development stages
Software development stages

In computer programming, development stage terminology expresses how the development of a piece of software has progressed and how much further development it may require. Each major version of a product usually goes through a stage when new features are added (alpha stage), then a stage when it is actively debugged (beta stage), and finally a stage when all important bugs have been removed (stable stage). Intermediate stages may also be recognized. The stages may be formally announced and regulated by the project's developers, but sometimes the terms are used informally to describe the state of a product. Conventionally, code names are often used by many companies for versions prior to the release of the product, though the actual product and features are rarely secret. Image File history File links Download high resolution version (200x700, 11 KB) Summary A diagram of software development stages Made with Macromedia Fireworks MX by Max Naylor, 2006 Licensing I, the creator of this work, hereby release it into the public domain. ... Computer programming (often simply programming or coding) is the craft of writing a set of commands or instructions that can later be compiled and/or interpreted and then inherently transformed to an executable that an electronic machine can execute or run. Programming requires mainly logic, but has elements of science... Software Engineering (SE) is the design, development, and documentation of software by applying technologies and practices from computer science, project management, engineering, application domains, interface design, digital asset management and other fields. ... Computer software (or simply software) refers to one or more computer programs and data held in the storage of a computer for some purpose. ... Version is a state of an object or concept that varies from its previous state or condition. ... A project code name is a name (usually a single word or short phrase) which is given to a project being developed by industry, academia, government, and other concerns. ...

Contents

Development stages

Pre-alpha

Sometimes a build known as pre-alpha is issued, before the release of an alpha or beta. In contrast to alpha and beta versions, the pre-alpha is usually not "feature complete". At this stage designers are still determining exactly what functionalities the product should have.


Alpha

The alpha version of a product still awaits full debugging or full implementation of all its functionality but satisfies a majority of the software requirements. It often lacks features promised in the final release but demonstrates the feasibility and basic structure of the software. A majority is a subset of a group that is more than half of the entire group. ... In systems engineering and software engineering, requirements analysis encompasses all of the tasks that go into the instigation, scoping and definition of a new or altered system. ... Look up Structure in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. ... Computer software (or simply software) refers to one or more computer programs and data held in the storage of a computer for some purpose. ...


The alpha build of the software is the first build delivered to the software testers. Software testing is the process used to help identify the correctness, completeness, security, and quality of developed computer software. ...


In the first phase of alpha testing, developers test the software using white box techniques. Additional inspection is then performed using black box or grey box techniques. This is usually done by another dedicated testing team sometimes concurrently. Moving to black box testing is often known as the second stage of alpha testing. White box testing, clear box testing, glass box testing or structural testing is used in computer programming, software engineering and software testing to check that the outputs of a program, given certain inputs, conform to the structural specification of the program. ... To meet Wikipedias quality standards, this article or section may require cleanup. ... Software testing is the process used to help identify the correctness, completeness, security, and quality of developed computer software. ...


The name is derived from alpha, the first letter in the Greek alphabet. Alpha (uppercase Α, lowercase α) is the first letter of the Greek alphabet. ... Because of technical limitations, some web browsers may not display some special characters in this article. ...


Beta

A beta version or beta release (pronounced "beetah" or "bayta") usually represents the first version of a computer program that implements all features in the initial software requirements specification. It is likely to be unstable but useful for internal demonstrations and previews to select customers, but not yet ready for release. Some developers refer to this stage as a preview, as a technical preview (TP) or as an early access. The terms computer program, software program, applications program, system software, or just program are used to refer to either an executable program by both lay people and computer programmers or the collection of source code from which an executable program is created (eg, compiled). ... ...


Often this stage begins when the developers announce a feature freeze on the product, indicating that no more feature requirements will be accepted for this version of the product. Only software issues, or bugs and unimplemented features will be addressed. In software engineering, a freeze represents a point in time in the development process after which the rules for making changes to the source code or related resources become more strict. ... A computer bug is an error, flaw, mistake, failure, or fault in a computer program that prevents it from working as intended, or produces an incorrect result. ...


Beta versions stand at an intermediate step in the full development cycle. Developers release them to a group of beta testers (sometimes the general public) for a user test. The testers report any bugs that they found and sometimes minor features they would like to see in the final version. It has been suggested that this article or section be merged into Software development process. ...


An example of a major public beta test was when Microsoft started releasing regular Windows Vista Community Technology Previews (CTP) to beta testers starting in January 2005. The first of these was build 5219. Subsequent CTPs introduced most of the planned features, as well as a number of changes to the user interface, based in large part on feedback from beta testers. Windows Vista was deemed feature complete with the release of build 5308 CTP, released on February 22, 2006, and much of the remainder of work between that build and the final release of the product will focus on stability, performance, application and driver compatibility, and documentation. The Microsoft Corporation, (NASDAQ: MSFT, HKSE: 4338) is a multinational computer technology corporation with global annual revenue of US$44. ... Windows Vista is the name of the upcoming release of Microsoft Windows, a line of graphical operating systems used on personal computers, including home and business desktops, notebook computers, and media centers. ... Typically, in software development, a release is called feature complete when the product team agrees that functional requirements of the system are met and no new features will be put into the release, but significant software bugs may still exist. ...


When a beta becomes available to the general public it is often widely used by the technologically savvy and those familiar with previous versions as though it were the finished product. Usually developers of freeware or open-source betas release them to the general public while proprietary betas go to a relatively small group of testers. In February 2005, ZDNet published an article about the recent phenomenon of a beta version often staying for years and being used as if it were in production-level [1]. It noted that Gmail and Google News, for example, had been in beta for a long period of time and were not expected to drop the beta status despite the fact that they were widely used; however, Google News did leave beta in January 2006. This technique may also allow a developer to delay offering full support and/or responsibility for remaining issues. Recipients of highly proprietary betas may have to sign a non-disclosure agreement. This article or section does not cite its references or sources. ... Open source refers to projects that are open to the public and which draw on other projects that are freely available to the general public. ... Gmail, officially Google Mail in the United Kingdom and Germany, is a free webmail and POP3 e-mail service provided by Google. ... Google News is an automated news aggregator provided by Google Inc. ... A non-disclosure agreement (NDA), also called a confidential disclosure agreement (CDA), confidentiality agreement or secrecy agreement, is a legal contract between at least two parties which outlines confidential materials or knowledge the parties wish to share with one another for certain purposes, but wish to restrict from generalized use. ...


A release is called feature complete when the product team agrees that functional requirements of the system are met and no new features will be put into the release, but significant software bugs may still exist. Typically, in software development, a release is called feature complete when the product team agrees that functional requirements of the system are met and no new features will be put into the release, but significant software bugs may still exist. ...


As the second major stage in the development cycle, following the alpha stage, it is named after the Greek letter beta, the second letter in the Greek alphabet. Beta (upper case Β, lower case β) is the second letter of the Greek alphabet. ... Because of technical limitations, some web browsers may not display some special characters in this article. ...


The term beta test applied to software follows from an early IBM hardware development convention dating back to punched card tabulating and sorting machines. Hardware first went through an alpha test for preliminary functionality and manufacturing feasibility. Then a beta test to verify that it actually correctly performed the functions it was supposed to, and then a c test to verify safety. With the advent of programmable computers and the first sharable software programs, IBM used the same terminology for testing software. Beta tests were conducted by people or groups other than the developers. As other companies began developing software for their own use, and for distribution to others, the terminology stuck and now is part of our common vocabulary.


Release candidate

The term release candidate refers to a final product, ready to release unless fatal bugs emerge. In this stage, the product features all designed functionalities and no known showstopper class bugs. At this phase the product is usually code complete. A computer bug is an error, flaw, mistake, failure, or fault in a computer program that prevents it from working as intended, or produces an incorrect result. ... In software development, a showstopper is a computer bug which prevents a project from going forward, as opposed to a minor bug which can be documented and coped with. ...


Microsoft Corporation often uses the term release candidate. Other terms include gamma (and occasionally also delta, and perhaps even more Greek letters) for versions that are substantially complete, but still under test, and omega for final testing of versions that are believed to be bug-free, and may go into production at any time. Gamma, delta, and omega are, respectively, the third, fourth, and last letters of the Greek alphabet. Some users disparagingly refer to release candidates and even final "point oh" releases as "gamma test" software, suggesting that the developer has chosen to use its customers to test software that is not truly ready for general release. Often, beta testers, if privately selected, will be billed for using the release candidate as though it were a finished product. The Microsoft Corporation, (NASDAQ: MSFT, HKSE: 4338) is a multinational computer technology corporation with global annual revenue of US$44. ... Gamma (uppercase Γ, lowercase γ) is the third letter of the Greek alphabet. ... Delta (uppercase Δ, lowercase δ) is the fourth letter of the Greek alphabet. ... Note: This article contains special characters. ... Because of technical limitations, some web browsers may not display some special characters in this article. ...


A release is called code complete when the development team agrees that no entirely new source code will be added to this release. There may still be source code changes to fix defects. There may still be changes to documentation and data files, and to the code for test cases or utilities. New code may be added in a future release.


Gold/general availability release

The gold or general availability release version is the final version of a particular product. It is typically almost identical to the final release candidate, with only last-minute bugs fixed. A gold release is considered to be very stable and relatively bug-free with a quality suitable for wide distribution and use by end users. In commercial software releases, this version may also be signed (used to allow end-users to verify that code has not been modified since the release). The expression that a software product "has gone gold" means that the code has been completed and "is being mass-produced and will be for sale soon." Other terms for the version include gold master, gold release, or gold build.


The term gold anecdotally refers to the use of "gold master disc" which was commonly used to send the final version to manufacturers who use it to create the mass-produced retail copies. It may in this context be a hold-over from music production. In some cases, however, the master disc is still actually made of gold, for both aesthetic appeal and resistance to corrosion. General Name, Symbol, Number gold, Au, 79 Chemical series transition metals Group, Period, Block 11, 6, d Appearance metallic yellow Atomic mass 196. ...


Microsoft and others use the term "release to manufacturing" (RTM) to refer to this version (for commercial products, like Windows XP, as in, "Build 2600 is the Windows XP RTM release"), and "release to Web" (RTW) for freely downloadable products. The Microsoft Corporation, (NASDAQ: MSFT, HKSE: 4338) is a multinational computer technology corporation with global annual revenue of US$44. ... Windows XP is a line of operating systems developed by Microsoft Corporation for use on general-purpose computer systems, including home and business desktops, notebook computers, and media centers. ...


Stable/unstable

In open source programming, version numbers or the terms stable and unstable commonly distinguish the stage of development. The term stable refers to a version of software that is substantially identical to a version that has been through enough real-world testing to reasonably assume there are no showstopper problems, or at least that any problems are known and documented. On the other hand, the term unstable does not necessarily mean that there are problems - rather, that enhancements or changes have been made to the software that have not undergone rigorous testing and that more changes are expected to be imminent. Users of such software are advised to use the stable version if it meets their needs, and to only use the unstable version if the new functionality is of interest that exceeds the risk that something might simply not work right. Open source refers to projects that are open to the public and which draw on other projects that are freely available to the general public. ...


In the Linux kernel, version numbers take the form of three numbers, separated by a decimal point. Prior to the 2.6.x series, an even second number was used to represent a stable release and an odd second number used to represent an unstable release. As of the 2.6.x series, the even or odd status of the second number no longer holds any significance. The practice of using even and odd numbers to indicate the stability of a release has been used by many other open and closed source projects. The Linux kernel is a Unix-like operating system kernel that was begun by Linus Torvalds in 1991 and subsequently developed with the assistance of developers worldwide. ... In mathematics, the term even is used in several senses: an integer is called even if it is divisible by two; see even and odd numbers a function f defined on the real numbers is called even if f(x) = f(−x) for all x; see even and odd functions... Odd has several meanings. ... In mathematics, the parity of an object refers to whether is is even or odd. ...


See also

Version is a state of an object or concept that varies from its previous state or condition. ... Software testing is the process used to help identify the correctness, completeness, security, and quality of developed computer software. ...

External links


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