QUOTE(Zumi @ Dec 5 2004, 11:09 PM)
I don't think I'm the one who needs a reality check now. I think pdaXrom team needs a reality check, if they can't estimate the release time for 2 days ahead.
You've got to be kidding! There are software professionals who have dedicated their entire careers to trying to devise systematic methods for software QA, determining release schedules, etc. Yet the only
reliable way anyone has found to schedule an exact release date is to work the software to the point that it is completely ready to release, then announce a date and hold the software in a frozen state until the date arrives. No, features, bug fixes, or testing during that time or you may break/find something that causes you to delay the release. Of course if you do that, you end up sitting on a "finished" product for some length of time just so you can release it on a specific date.
Downloadable software is not like shrink-wrapped software. Shrink-wrapped software has to have disks, boxes, manuals, etc. manufactured and it's pretty easy to estimate how long that process is going to take. So it's not hard for someone like a commercial game publisher to say "we'll release this game on Dec 6th" and hit that date exactly because the code was actually finished
two months before and was actually ready for end users when they announced
the Dec 6th date.
Downloadable software is a whole different story. No one including the developers knows exactly when the last critical bug will be fixed until the last critical bug is fixed. Unless you want the developers to finish up a release and then sit on it for a week while they announce "we'll release this exactly one week from today" then you're going to have to learn to deal with missed release dates.
One of the driving philosophies behind open source software is "release early, release often". That does not
lend itself to scheduled releases. The best one can do is exactly what the pdaXrom team did ... announce that they're planning
to release on a certain date and then work like hell to meet it. Sometimes it works, often it doesn't. But either way it's a tool that results in huge forward progress (cause no one wants to miss the release). And people who've been in this business for any length of time know perfectly well that you don't
schedule your life around planned release dates. When a developer says "I'm planning to release this weekend" you say to yourself "cool, maybe I'll get to play with it next weekend."
The stuff the pdaXrom guys are doing is absolutely wonderful. But let's face it ... it's a software distribution for a handheld computer. It's not like this stuff is controlling your pacemaker and every extra day you have to wait for an update is taking a year off your life. If the release does come out on schedule and you don't have time planed to play with it, then what's the harm in waiting until the opportunity presents itself. The software is not going anywhere.
I've been in the pdaXrom guys shoes and believe me it's emotionally painful to miss a release date. And although developers tend to grow pretty thick skin, it still hurts to read messages from someone who calls your planned
release date a lie (which implies intentional deception). If the goal was "constructive criticism" then a message to the extent of "I wish you guys wouldn't publish release dates ... I can't handle the emotional rollercoaster" would be more than adequate. Trying to make the developers feel worse than they already do is not
helpful and leads to covert development and abandoned projects and that's not what the open source movement is all about.
Sorry for the long rant, but as a long-time software developer, it pains me to see insensitivity and lack of patience from people who are benefiting from an open source software team's good will. My hat is off to the pdaXrom team for their hard work and dedication ... and I don't even use their software! Hang in there guys and keep up the good work