BriMercer wrote:Are any of you guys experienced enough to know how long, in a process like this, the private and public beta is likely to last. Are we talking months and months of each, so we're bumping up against the November timeframe for a public release? Or might it be sooner?
Depends on a few things. How feature-complete is the beta? Sometimes software developers will release software before they've hit all the targets for its features in order to start getting user feedback sooner. If there are still some features that aren't added in or finished, then the timeframe could become considerably longer.
Another factor is platform disparity. In the case of an iOS app like Keith is making, he's dealing with a very controlled and focused set of platforms: iOS devices which run iOS 9 or greater. Finding all the quirks between platforms and getting software to work well across the board can become a very time-consuming process. In the case of this app though, the impact of this issue should be minimal since he's dealing with a single OS on a very limited set of similar devices. There will still be some finagling, because there are differences in the features and specs of these devices.
Beta testing with real users has two main benefits: It reveals UX issues, and it reveals code issues. Coding issues tend to be significantly easier to address. Users aren't quite as kind and predictable to an application as its developers are, and will smoke out problems that developers couldn't see for one reason or another (e.g. If you open the app 7 times in a row, it crashes!). UX issues on the other hand can have pretty broad implications on software and can be (but not always) very involved to fix. Suppose a button is too small and people keep missing it. Resizing it is easy. But what implications does this have on the rest of the interface? Should other buttons get smaller? Do all buttons need to be bigger? Do we hide some buttons? Now you not only have to address the design of the page/view/app again, but you also have to change the code. Depending on the scope of the UX issue (e.g. the entire workflow for the app doesn't work for most users vs. a single button is too small) making fixes for UX issues can have a significant impact on the timeline.
As far as actual math on this matter goes; you need time for users to use the app and for the developer to process their feedback and make adjustments to the app. I'd say this is a month of time at minimum Once the developers feel good about the application they need to make the finishing touches to the application package itself, in addition to preparation of marketing materials, support infrastructure, website, etc. Probably a few weeks for this step. Finally, the app needs to be submitted to the app store
So if the application is pretty stable, largely "complete", and if there aren't any major UX issues, then I would guess a release by early summer would be possible. Its probably wise for the team to release the app before the next iOS and devices are released (~September), if possible, to avoid development getting caught up in new tools and technologies.
On the other hand, if testing uncovers significant issues, and/or the app is not feature-complete yet, we could be seeing the closed beta continuing beyond the summer. I would wager that the LL team is pushing hard to have this new software out before November though (NaNoWriMo) not just for the sake of everyone excited to use it, but also for the great marketing opportunity that month presents. Based on what I know about this project (which admittedly isn't much) and what I know about software development, I'd say releasing by November is achievable even if testing uncovers unseen speedbumps.
TL;DR My best guess is somewhere between early summer and November.
DISCLAIMER: I am a software developer, but I am not affiliated with Literature and Latte and I do not speak for Keith. I'm just speculating and I could be completely wrong.