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August 1, 2014

The Beta Test

Filed under: Main — admin @ 12:01 am

Yep, that new game is in beta.
They’re beta testing.
Hey! I’m going to download the beta.
Did you get the beta for Windows?

Beta! Beta! β! What is beta or a beta test?

Let me not waste your time:

A best test is a software trial run.

It’s like a dress rehearsal. A beta test is the version that’s stable enough to use, but not sufficiently debugged for release. So what happens is that the developer presents the beta to a beta testers. These are people who not only use the program, but good beta testers also try to break the program.

I’ve been in on a few legitimate beta tests — not what are called “beta tests” these days.

Long ago, I wrote a manual for a PC program. I had the beta software and was writing the manual to that software. The process was frustrating because the program kept changing as they’d find and fix things, or as they removed features they just couldn’t get ready in time.

Beta reports were generated and distributed nightly. Some of the testers really put the program through the ringer. I remember one guy tried typing in ridiculous values for some of the settings, and he actually found that if you typed in large enough numbers the program would crash.

The beta test is designed to get the bugs out, and good programmers know you need a wide variety of people not only using the software to make that happen, but abusing the software as well.

These days, beta tests are often widely released, which means anyone can get a copy. Generally speaking, these copies are more pre-release copies than true beta tests. The idea is the same: To get people to use the program and try to find — and fix — the bugs.

By the way, beta comes from the Greek alphabet. It’s the second letter, after alpha (α).

The first version of a program, is called the alpha version by the developer. Someone told me it was the gamma (γ) version, but that’s working the wrong way! It goes alpha first, then beta, then release.

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