Why doesn't JBidwatcher release more often?

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Avatar Morgan Schweers Administrator 1,204 post(s)


I wrote this up, in response to a question about why web services don’t seem to have the issue with eBay’s changes that JBidwatcher does. Having worked at a web service that scraped eBay, I can say that we did have the same problems, it’s just that as soon as we fixed them, we fixed them for all the users instantly. This isn’t as true in the world of desktop software…

The friction of ‘code change’ to ‘release’ is pretty high for me. Here’s my ‘release’ process.

  • Do the build
  • Do a few tests against eBay’s live servers (loading items, bidding on test items, adding some to the My eBay and loading it)
  • Push the code to the web server
  • Validate that it downloads and runs correctly on all the platforms I build for (Mac OS X (current), Windows (XP), Linux)
  • Write up a change list (based on the CVS change comments from the last version)
  • Edit the website to refer to the latest version
  • Add a release notification to the top of the front page
  • Push the old notifications down and explain what’s new in a brief description
  • Take that description, and put it (along with the new version number) into an XML file with what I think the level of severity for updating is, and put that up as the XML upgrade file
    • From here on, they can happen in pretty much any order…
  • I push the code to Sourceforge, and do the file release process there (because something like 600 users are still monitoring that)
  • I also post the changes on VersionTracker (both the Mac and Windows sites)
  • I come here and post a ‘New Version’ announcement.
  • Also I’ll sometimes write up a blog post that’ll go on my foxcode blog, although I’m thinking I may start to deprecate that…

Full releases mean I need to dedicate a few hours to just doing the release. Most of that time is spent writing, meeting the requirements of all the various release sites. I start from the CVS logs, focus it down into a user-oriented document (the changelog), then focus that down into a descriptive paragraph or so for the website, updater, and here, and extract the most important bits of that for other sites.

I haven’t included going through the bug list, and marking off ones that are addressed in the particular release, or features that have been implemented, because I often don’t do that for a while after a release.

Contrast that with the pre-release process, which is intended for folks who are willing to live on the bleeding edge.

  • Build the program from the latest bits
  • Push it to the server in a beta directory
  • Post here, pointing folks to it. :)

That’s why I’m much more willing to push pre-releases up.

Ahhhhhhhhhhhhnyhow, that’s a really long explanation of why I don’t release very often. :) I hope it gives some insight into JBidwatcher.

— Morgan