Pattern six: Perpetual Beta

Web 2.0 in this pattern

Beta is used as a name in the software industry, representing the second stage software test by public users or limited amount of users. As Wikipedia mentioned,” Beta testing comes after alpha testing and can be considered a form of external user acceptance testing. Versions of the software, known as beta versions, are released to a limited audience outside of the programming team. The software is released to groups of people so that further testing can ensure the product has few faults or bugs. Sometimes, beta versions are made available to the open public to increase the feedback field to a maximal number of future users.” With the transformation of traditional software role to a “software as a service”, software public test process method also has changed to a ongoing even perpetual process. Today’s Web 2.0 application does not just software but a service online.As O’Reilly(2005) said,” So fundamental is the shift from software as artifact to software as service that the software will cease to perform unless it is maintained on a daily basis.” For the desktop software as office, it may need long period to develop and long time closed test process, then it could be release as a preview or Beta version to public to verify its feature and if it has bug or not. But for the application online, users could give feedback and suggestion anytime and anywhere to improve and refine the software. Perpetual Beta will bring benefits to firm, because faster reflection, low risk and customer-oriented.  Some good method to do this:

  • Often update

If software do not update for a long time, nobody will use it any more. So for online services, which are a more interactive type of software, needs more frequent update and bug fix to ensure stability.

  • User’s participation for test

It is necessary to encourage use and provide method for use to let them become co-developer or testers. Because users is on the first line of application and know what they want and defect of services best.

  •  New products

Web 2.0 application need to new product rather than just fix bug and add some small feature. Because the innovation for Web 2.0, it requires firm to generate new product ideas and t evolve them.

  • Using dynamic tools and language

Because of perpetual Beta, so the dynamic and easy-reform tools or language is necessary for Web 2.0 application, for example PHP,Ruby or some script languages are very useful and dynamic to change and deploy.

Some cons of the pattern

  • Feature quality: Perpetual Beta do not means perpetual uncompleted. It is necessary to provide a high quality feature to user rather than a bug version.
  • Privacy : Perpetual Beta need to keep privacy with user and good management of tester.

Evaluating Web 2.0 application

Discuz!(http://www.discuz.net/) is the world largest Chinese language forum platform company,start as 2002.  It has been used by thousands of small and middle forums for many years. It is used to be a traditional BBS web system , but after no more than 5 years ,it has been upgraded to a comprehensive  online forum plantform from initial 1.0 to today X2.5. Discuz! update version every two month and build a feedback platform to gather customer opinion after test with thousands of user. Discuz! is developed using PHP language and the new product have involved community concept for user test and feedback. Discusz! is a smaller firm than Mircorsoft or Apple ,so it could allow public user to do some core test or advices. But for big software company, they have business consideration or terms to prevent this. In the future, Discuz! might upgrade their business model and data exchange with Facebook or other social network.

Reference:

Wikipedia Software testing

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Software_testing#Beta_testing

O’Reilly, T. 2005. What is web 2.0 http://oreilly.com/pub/a/web2/archive/what-is-web-20.html?page=4

Pattern five: Software above the level of a single device

Web 2.0 in this pattern

With the mobile device technology and software technology development, PC is no longer the single device to access internet applications. Saas is also the trend to do softare as Wikipedia mentioned,” Software as a service (SaaS, typically pronounced [sæs]), sometimes referred to as “on-demand software,” is a software delivery model in which software and its associated data are hosted centrally (typically in the (Internetcloud) and are typically accessed by users using a thin client, normally using a web browser over the Internet.” In Web 2.0 application environment, people allow to using diversity platform to post information, watching video, talking with friends and so on. Therefore, the software needs to meet new ubiquitous computing situation. The benefit of this pattern is allowing people to access Web 2.0 anywhere and anytime. To achieve this goal:

  • Design sharing data across diversity platform

Web 2.0 application is aim to help user to do more interaction with peer, so the different platform support is essential for Web 2.0. Today, more and more apps are support at Mobile devices like Twitter and Facebook.

  •  Extend Web 2.0 to devices

Online web service needs to extend to devices and other platform to improve the practices of web 2.0.For example people use same function in iPhone as in browser of Google maps and context-awareness service.

  •  Leverage devices as data and rich media sources

Diversity devices need to represent a rich media and data source to support client’s mobile usage, for example email service.

  •  Enable data location independence

Users wish to keep data into different devices and data synchronization and consistency.

Some cons of the pattern

  • Compatibility:  Share with different hard ware platform needs higher compatibility.
  • Legal issue: Some illegal behavior will appear in this situation.

Evaluating Web 2.0 application

Appstore(www.itunes.com ) is the world famous mobile apps website or library that allow user to access and buy anytime and anywhere by using most of devices that could link to internet, it is not a typical web 2.0 website but definitly ,it is a web 2.0 applicatoin. Appstore has developed iPhone ,iPad and Mac PC platform client applications to support this. User could use different platform to search apps and give comments and rate. It is from the idea to extend Web 2.0 to devices. Meanwhile Appstore client application could leverage devices as data and rich apps sources, in another world, you have a mobile software shop in your hand or browser.  Appstore has the ituns to prevent downloading illegally and data synchronization issue could be solving towards this application.  Comparing with other Web 2.0 application, Appstore is not software but a business model for Apple. As Hinchciffe(2010) said about app store model, “(1) Distribution and delivery controlled by the platform owner,(2) A self-contained application directory and store.(3) Centralized payment processing.(4) An application community to drive feedback and quality.” In the future, Appstore might upgrade their client software with Web 2.0 application.

References:

Wikipeida Software as a service  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Software_as_a_service

Hinchcliffe, D. 2010. The app store: The new “must-have” digital business model

http://www.zdnet.com/blog/hinchcliffe/the-app-store-the-new-must-have-digital-business-model/1172

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