Today Real Software announced to the Beta List that they were going to make some changes. The notice, in part, says:
In the next few weeks, we will be updating the process that manages our mailing lists. We will begin using a system that ensures everyone on this list has a current Real Studio license and that the email address subscribed to this list is one of the email addresses in your realsoftware.com account.
Of course, some on the existing beta list thought this was a horrible idea. Doesn’t Real Software want beta testers? Blah, blah. It was just shy of outrage.
Well, here’s the deal: Roughly half of the people on the beta list don’t have a current license for Real Studio. This means that they can’t REPORT a bug even if they found something because the Feedback system requires a current license!
The Real Software beta list policy has been pretty wide open since I’ve been using REALbasic. All you had to do was sign up for the beta program. After that you could access the download URL’s for the beta versions. It wasn’t until recently that you had to log in to the Real Software website to download beta versions.
Really all this change does is enforce a logical limitation. Frankly, the beta list has needed to be pared for a long time. There’s often a lot of inconsequential chatter that doesn’t help me as a beta tester nor helps Real Software fix anything.
Issuing beta builds is good for Real Software as we tend to use the product wildly different then they do. Don’t get me wrong, they build the Real Studio IDE using Real Studio so they do eat their own dog food but they only have a handful of products in a limited number of use-cases. We tend to use the product in abnormal ways either by design or by ignorance.
I wonder if even enforcing the current license restriction goes far enough. The point of being part of the beta program is to report bugs and suggest changes. I could probably name two dozen people that are vocal on the beta list that I’d want on MY beta list if I had choice. Those are the people you want to keep.
Likewise, I know of a handful of people on the beta list that I’d find a way to politely leave off the new beta list. Not that they’re wrong they just tend to be unreasonable in their reactions to beta software bugs. When you’re unreasonable then engineers tend to ‘rooster up’ and resist the change. Then we all lose and that’s no good.
Perhaps a good way to make a quality beta program is to start over with the list of current people that a) have a current license; and b) have submitted a Feedback report in the past 12 months. I am almost afraid to see how low that number is.
I think this policy enforcement is probably a good thing before the 2012 Release 2 hits. This is the release where the licensing gets simplified (for most of us). So this means, potentially, a lot of new people using Real Studio for the first time. So unless they get a paid license, they won’t be able to participate in the program. Of course Real Software hasn’t announced anything on what happens to the beta program for R2 yet but I believe this to be a reasonable interpretation given the enforcement of the current policy, don’t you?
For me, this changes nothing. Perhaps with less chatter RS can help focus our energies a bit better and if we do have something to report our voices don’t get drowned out. I think this policy enforcement is a very good thing.
Anyway, what do all of you think about this change? Is it fair or unfair? Do you think it’s a good, bad, or do you even care?