Sente 5.6 and the Release Process

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We are very pleased to have released the first official version of Sente 5.6 with all of the new features that you have seen during the prerelease period, if you were getting the incremental updates.  I just thought I would write a few words about they way we developed and released this version of Sente and invite your feedback on the process.

We began posting preview versions of 5.6 back in mid-June.  Rather than waiting until all of the features we wanted to put into this version were done, we decided to roll them out incrementally as previews.  We did this for at least two reasons:

One, we really wanted user feedback on some of the new features before they were locked down as official.  Specifically, we were concerned about the targeted browsing interface.  Did we have the right interface?  Would it actually work in the wide variety of contexts our customers operate in?  We were concerned about waiting weeks or months before getting it out only to find that we had made some fundamental errors in our design.  The feedback we received during the preview period was, indeed, very helpful to us as we refined our design, so I think we achieved our goal on this one.

Two, this was a very big release and we did not want to wait three months between major updates.  By putting out preview releases, we were able to incorporate numerous bug fixes unrelated to the new features, and squeeze in quite a few smaller items that we heard about during the development cycle.  Getting these fixes and features did mean jumping into the preview release cycle, but we tried hard to make sure that each release was tested enough not to break anything, and we were always standing ready to rush out a quick fix in case we missed something.  Overall, I think we achieved this goal as well, although there were a few, relatively small glitches.

So, all told, I think I am satisfied with how this process went.  We got good feedback throughout the process and were able to incorporate much of it into the product.  And users benefitted from the new features as they became available.  And I am aware of only a few cases where the preview-nature of the release caused people problems.

If you have thoughts on how this release was handled, please let us know.


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