* The Business of Software

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Successful Software

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BreezeTree Software

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Patrick McKenzie
Bingo Card Creator

Version 2014.0 .. 2014.3. Why is it bad?

Version 2014.3 means that it is the 4th edition (starting with zero) in 2014.
I see only advantage in this version number.
1) If the version 2014.0, the user sees that a fresh version
2) If the version 2001.0, the developer sees that you need to get up off the sofa and release a new version
What are defects you see in 2014.0 .. 2014.3 versions?

P.S. I decided to extract this decision from the branch to new branch from http://discuss.joelonsoftware.com/default.asp?biz.5.857398
Alex Vasilevsky Send private email
Friday, February 28, 2014
 
 
How will you differentiate between free updates & major paid upgrades?
Gautam Jain Send private email
Friday, February 28, 2014
 
 
2014.0, 2015.0 - paid, for example.

P.S. It's like Visual Studio 2010, 2012, 2013, ie it is possible to release a new version not every year.
Alex Vasilevsky Send private email
Friday, February 28, 2014
 
 
The only downside I can see is if you don't release a new version that regularly then it starts to look dated.

I have a product that is versioned on the date, so today's release is 2014.02.28. This fits in quite well with my monthly release schedule although as it matures and I slow down releases I will probably change the scheme.
Ducknald Don Send private email
Friday, February 28, 2014
 
 
I think that * .02.28 is superfluous. If you stick to my scheme, then monthly releases will 2014.0 .. 2014.11. What do you say?
Alex Vasilevsky Send private email
Friday, February 28, 2014
 
 
It's bad because it looks like a date but not really.... but it is, isn't it? Or not?

No.

Yes...?

Nothing kills enthusiasm and sales quicker than uncertainty. Don't confuse people by being so clever.




AC
Reluctantlyregistered Send private email
Friday, February 28, 2014
 
 
@Reluctantlyregistered please describe your position in more dedails?
P.S. Why 4.3 better 2014.3?
Alex Vasilevsky Send private email
Friday, February 28, 2014
 
 
The format 2014.3 is immediately recognizable as this year's date of 2014, yet it has 5 digits and obviously isn't the year.

Except it is.

OK, so it's the date, right?

Except it isn't, it's the version number.

That kind of uncertainty makes people defensive and your website then becomes hard work for them. Their instinct is to push you, your product and your website away.

Nobody minds if you stick with things that are familiar. Many people DO mind if you change things around for no apparent reason and confuse them.

A better alternative would perhaps be to replace the . with a /:

2014/3

Now it's clear that you mean the 3rd of 2014 - but the 3rd version of the software or the 3rd month (March)?

Adding a minor sub-build doesn't help:

2014/3/3

That's the 3rd of March, right?

If it's version four then call it 4.0. People know what that means.




AC
Reluctantlyregistered Send private email
Friday, February 28, 2014
 
 
0) Full version of my program is 2014.0.5172.17591. This can be seen by the right button of the mouse. Why is 9.0.5172.17591 better?
1) Yes, 2014 is a year and a version number. It tells the user that this latest version and pushes developer to release new versions.
2) The second number is the minor version number. This is not a month, not a day or something else. Just when you release version 1.0 , and then make small improvements , then you call this version 1.1 or 1.01 or 1.1254. Without a difference.
3) 3rd and 4th number is internal builds. These numbers are the most important, but user is not need it.
Alex Vasilevsky Send private email
Friday, February 28, 2014
 
 
If you have to explain it then you're doing it wrong.




AC
Reluctantlyregistered Send private email
Friday, February 28, 2014
 
 
> 1) If the version 2014.0, the user sees that a fresh version

For a moment I was going to ask which was month 0.  You are switching cognitive domains in that code, from month to release version.

> 2) If the version 2001.0, the developer sees that you need to get up off the sofa and release a new version

Is this really a good reason?  If you're not motivated in other ways or don't know the dates of your releases, there are probably bigger problems.

> Full version of my program is 2014.0.5172.17591.

Maybe you should also put your social security code in there as well.  :D

My point is, if your customers are software developers, they *might* care a tiny bit about the versioning schema you use, but if they are that geeky about it they probably have practically memorized the release dates, too; that is to say, they know what's fresh and what's not just based on the current version.  And of course,  you should include release date info in the notes about the release, the About screen, etc.

(An aside: I guess for open source projects, a good consistent and logical schema is a real value (such as where the dot notation separates major version, bugfix release, stable branch, developmental branch, etc) since there is often an ecosystem of various versions in the wild and lore that explains which versions go with which other packages, platforms, etc. )

But If they are *not* developers, but the average computer user, surely they will be put off by seeing you page announcing

NEW!  DiskCleaner 2014.0.5172.17591!

and would really prefer

NEW!  DiskCleaner 5!
Racky Send private email
Friday, February 28, 2014
 
 
Alex Vasilevsky: "0) Full version of my program is 2014.0.5172.17591. This can be seen by the right button of the mouse. Why is 9.0.5172.17591 better?"

It is shorter for one.  I rarely need the detail, and I install software.  You think an end user will?  Imagine support asking what version the user has.  "Uh, I don't know." vs. "9.0".

1) Yes, 2014 is a year and a version number. It tells the user that this latest version and pushes developer to release new versions.

If the developer is pushed by mere version number, there is something screwy there.

It also raises the issue that the software will obsolete quickly.  Am I going to be stuck having to buy this thing every year?

2) The second number is the minor version number. This is not a month, not a day or something else. Just when you release version 1.0 , and then make small improvements , then you call this version 1.1 or 1.01 or 1.1254. Without a difference.

If you have to explain it, it is too complicated.

3) 3rd and 4th number is internal builds. These numbers are the most important, but user is not need it.

The user does not need the 2014 either.

Sincerely,

Gene  Wirchenko
Gene Wirchenko Send private email
Friday, February 28, 2014
 
 
@Racky

1) 2 number is not month. Your program have 2.0 version.  "which was month 0?"
2) Do you really think that you can sell a version of 2001 year?
3) NEW! DiskCleaner 2014.0.5172.17591!
6.1.7600.16385 is version of notepad.exe from Windows 7.
Are you really a developer? ;)
Alex Vasilevsky Send private email
Friday, February 28, 2014
 
 
First thing I thought was "What is month 0? Is 3 meaning released in March or in April?

This would be fine if it was what everyone in industry was doing. I've never seen this advertised as the main info about the version. It's bound to be confusing to customers, but you are committed to it, so whatever man!

It's fine as an internal reference, BTW. I assume the question is whether this should be presented to customers as the version.
Scott Send private email
Friday, February 28, 2014
 
 
Might as well disclose my own practice for reference.

Program about box and documentation:
  "Product X"
  Version 5.2
  Released on: 28 Feb 2014 (Build 1407)

Web site, sales info:
  "Product X 5 brings unparalleled ..."

New minor release announcements:
  "The Product X 5.2 update introduces support for..."
Scott Send private email
Friday, February 28, 2014
 
 
@Alex

1) 2 number is not month. Your program have 2.0 version.  "which was month 0?"

I knew; I wrote just that.  The point is, some people may get confused.

> 2) Do you really think that you can sell a version of 2001 year?

Maybe.  Probably not.  But what's the point of your asking that?  I'm not saying to not do updates.  I'm saying that super-complex version numbering generally is overkill.

> 6.1.7600.16385 is version of notepad.exe from Windows 7.

And what is the percentage of people who use Notepad who know that?  What percentage of those people make buying decisions based on that knowledge?  (well, nobody buys Notepad, but you get the idea).

> Are you really a developer? ;)

I often feel I'm not "really" anything.  ;D
Racky Send private email
Friday, February 28, 2014
 
 
First thing I thought was "What is month 0? Is 3 meaning released in March or in April?

1) You really matter in what month released product?

This would be fine if it was what everyone in industry was doing. I've never seen this advertised as the main info about the version. It's bound to be confusing to customers, but you are committed to it, so whatever man!

2) Visual Studio 2013 Update 2?

3) Program about box and documentation:
  "Product X"
  Version 2014.2
  Released on: 28 Feb 2014 (Build 1407)

Is that bad?
Alex Vasilevsky Send private email
Friday, February 28, 2014
 
 
Maybe.  Probably not.  But what's the point of your asking that?  I'm not saying to not do updates.  I'm saying that super-complex version numbering generally is overkill.

1) My Google Chrome has version 33.0.1750.117.  It's easier?

And what is the percentage of people who use Notepad who know that?  What percentage of those people make buying decisions based on that knowledge?  (well, nobody buys Notepad, but you get the idea).

2) Two the last number is internal . I already wrote about it. See above.
Alex Vasilevsky Send private email
Friday, February 28, 2014
 
 
> 1) My Google Chrome has version 33.0.1750.117.  It's easier?

Not to me.  I'd rather not ever see that number as a user.  I'm still recovering from Firefox and Chrome suddenly going to 26 from 4 like five minutes ago.  But *Google* could call it Chrome ver. 666 (This Will Wipe Your Hard Drive Edition) and it'd do OK.

> 2) Two the last number is internal . I already wrote about it. See above.

OK, if customers don't see it, fine. 

All I'll say now is this:  I like Scott's system as presented.  I suggest you do that, but if you don't, it probably won't matter one bit to your or anyone's life.
Racky Send private email
Friday, February 28, 2014
 
 
These long numbers make my head spin.

Just call it version 1, 2, 3 etc to your users. If you don't want them to know it's version 1 (are you hiding something?) then start at 2 or 5.

On the About dialog you can have "Version 1 Build 20140228" in case of bug reports. Or you have a feedback option that automatically appends the build version so the user never sees it.

And try to use appcasting so that users automatically know about new versions without having to know what numbers to check.
koan Send private email
Friday, February 28, 2014
 
 
Take a moment to look at what the "norm" seems to be, by looking at the latest releases at www.majorgeeks.com (a respected site).

The worst version seen there is probably this:

Samsung Kies 3.2.14024_11 / 2.6.2.14014_5

Wow!
PSB136 Send private email
Saturday, March 01, 2014
 
 
I haven't read the other comments, but my problem with this numbering scheme is that you're not Microsoft. A large company with a major product can use year numbers because they're expected to release new major versions periodically.

What if the product reaches a stage of maturity that adding more features will result in diminishing returns on your time? Or, you decide to move onto other things but continue to sell the product for (mostly) passive income? Now you have a naming scheme that makes the product seem obsolete in a few years.

If you want to stick with the year-based version numbering, try shortening it to 14, 15, 16 ...
Nicholas Hebb Send private email
Saturday, March 01, 2014
 
 
@PSB136 please describe your idea in more detail.
Alex Vasilevsky Send private email
Saturday, March 01, 2014
 
 
@Nicholas Hebb: Good idea!
Alex Vasilevsky Send private email
Saturday, March 01, 2014
 
 
@Alex:  What idea?
PSB136 Send private email
Saturday, March 01, 2014
 
 
@PSB136 I do not understand the meaning of your message :(
Alex Vasilevsky Send private email
Saturday, March 01, 2014
 
 
On the sidebar of Chrome 33 and Firefox 29, these major number increments every month are a very recent and terrible development in the field. Had to look both of them up as I didn't even know within 10 what the current version numbers were. It's also extremely annoying to have a new major upgrade every month, each time they come out I think these folks should get their act together. However, as long as it looks the same and doesn't break anything, it's not a problem. That's not the case though is it. Every other release of these things breaks half the plugins and it takes hours to reconfigure everything. Really sucks horribly.
Scott Send private email
Saturday, March 01, 2014
 
 
@Scott  How does this relate to my versions system?
Alex Vasilevsky Send private email
Saturday, March 01, 2014
 
 
You brought up Chrome's numbering as a good example similar to your scheme, but I consider Chrome a terrible numbering system. Firefox is related since they are using the same scheme.
Scott Send private email
Saturday, March 01, 2014
 
 
You can do whatever you want and you will. You asked us though "why is it bad" after you got feedback that it was and people answered your question. Then you argued with every single person that answered your question "why is it bad", telling them why you thought they were wrong.

The fact is you are the wrong one here. YEAR.MM means year and month. End of story. I know in your mind you are convinced you have a better system and everyone in the world will change to follow it. That won't happen, people will think it means month. But it probably won't make much of a difference. However the attitude that "I am right and my system is better than the old and people should learn my new thing that looks like year and month is actually year and some other thing" means your usability is probably poor on your software in general because of your arrogance.

I too have created many better systems that were also different than the standard or that conflicted with a known understanding. Better be a lot better and have a real reason to overthrow the status quo though if doing this.
Scott Send private email
Saturday, March 01, 2014
 
 
My good example is Visual Studio 2002, 2003, 2005, 2008, 2010, 2012, 2013. It's not every year. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Microsoft_Visual_Studio
Alex Vasilevsky Send private email
Saturday, March 01, 2014
 
 
From the clash of opinions emerges the truth (c) Socrates
P.S. Please forgive me. I did not want to offend anyone. I really appreciate your opinion.
Alex Vasilevsky Send private email
Saturday, March 01, 2014
 
 
I agree with you the Visual Studio numbering, appearing just as a 4 digit year, is understandable and not a problem.
Scott Send private email
Saturday, March 01, 2014
 
 
The second number is necessary. Example: Visual Studio 2013 Update 2
Alex Vasilevsky Send private email
Sunday, March 02, 2014
 
 
Looking at Visual Studio for version numbers that developers will be concerned with they still have regular versioning. The about box version of Visual Studio I have installed is 11.0.6100.00 Update 4. But the general version is 2012 Update 4. Autodesk has gone to a similar versioning scheme. Inventor is currently at Inventor 2014. The display version number is 2014, but the Major version number is 18.

They still have continued there original versioning scheme but switched it for user display. To me version numbers are exist on the software for two identification purposes. For users and those who care about the underlying api. If you are just a user you want to be able to know what's the latest version. A year and update level tells you that. 2012 Update 4. Internally to check its easier to have sequentially numbered version with what it's always followed.

The user displayed numbers are really just marketing number so the user knows its something new. Going to a much bigger number makes it seem newer. Windows 7 version number was actually 6.1 Windows 8 version number is 6.2. Windows 8.1 is 6.3. The code base is numbered one way and users see it a different way. The difference between 8 and 8.1 programatically is a minor change. To get a user to update you have to make it seem more significant. That's what using yearly numbers give you.

So you have to choose who are you really trying to convince with the numbers. Using years is a quick way to convey to the user you have a newer version that you want to be paid for to be updated for. If you're targeting developers the internal numbers tell you not much has changed for your software to still work.

2012.xx is just saying I have an update. Marketing will dictate how it's interpreted. Really makes now difference. Basically it boils down to, if the Major number changes, you have to pay for the upgrade. If it doesn't then it's a free update. Unless you go the Apple route its different still. It's all in how you want to condition your users to know when it's going to be a paid update or free update.

The actual number is inconsequential. Just be constistant about it.
TrippinOnIT Send private email
Monday, March 03, 2014
 
 
Understood. Save the old numbering (it can be seen on the right mouse button) and add 2014.0 in the about box. Right?
Alex Vasilevsky Send private email
Monday, March 03, 2014
 
 
If you can educate your users that 2014.0 then 2014.1 means an update. Use it. Other wise just use 2014. If its an update, then 2014 Update 1.  Short hand you can refer to it as 2014.1 after you've had an update. 2014.0 sounds like you're expecting to have an update right away.

You train your users with the numbers. Microsoft and Autodesk has had years to train their users how to read version numbers.

As for the internal builds, no one cares but you so you can know exactly what version the user has when they need assistance.

Whenever I've called for support they will usually specifically ask what is the actual version number you're on. I've had them several times say open up the about dialog and read the number to them. Otherwise it's just what major number are you on.

For instance Autodesk will just say this help document applies to 2014. Support will say make sure you're on service pack X. As a user they never ask the internal numbers. As a developer they may ask that info.

Make it as simple as possible. I don't ever mention update numbers to managers. I just say we are using version 2013. New version coming is 2015. It has these changes. Do you want to upgrade? Yes/No. Simple as that. Anything in between only admins care about. If its software that doesn't need an admin then users may periodically check the site and want to see they are on version X and it has Y number of upgrades.

Users care about versions X. Installers of the software care about X.Y versions. No one but developers care about X.Y.ZZZZ versions.

If you have to use a year stick to 2014. Between updates your documentation can refer to 2014.x. Just make sure that the x is minor stuff. Usually all documentation will apply to all versions of 2014.

You will be the only one who cares about further numbers.  Drop the point numbers for general display. It only applies to support issues.
TrippinOnIT Send private email
Monday, March 03, 2014
 
 
I'm rambling on right now but just make sure you're not upgrading numbers to often. Like Scott I dislike this new versioning scheme that Firefox and Chrome has switched to. I don't even pay attention to Chrome update numbers anymore unless I have an issue with the browser and want to check whether or not the version I have fixes a specific issue.

It was much easier before. IE 6, 7, etc.. I knew what level of support to apply. Now I know nothing. I don't know when a user is more apt to update or even to give a baseline level of support.
Right now I have no clue as to what version of Chrome I'm using. I see red bars in the corner and know there's an update to it I don't have. Don't care about there version numbers anymore. To many to frequently to worry about. If I had to use it in business it's to fast to code against. I will stick to IE version X. This is one thing I think Microsoft understands very well.

For a basic guide in version numbers follow http://semver.org/.
Make your major number anything you want. Just make it easy on you and your users what the numbers mean. Don't over complicate it.
TrippinOnIT Send private email
Monday, March 03, 2014
 
 
OT but related to update too often: anyone experiencing Windows 7 updates on each shutdown? I believe there are new updates every day, this is simply annoying.
ThistimeAnon Send private email
Monday, March 03, 2014
 
 
@ThistimeAnon Chrome and Windows Update made it invisible. It's much better than 30% users of IE 6 :(
Alex Vasilevsky Send private email
Monday, March 03, 2014
 
 
Bingo! 2014.0  is main version. 2014.1 is 2014 Update 1 etc.
Alex Vasilevsky Send private email
Monday, March 03, 2014
 
 
Like Scott I dislike Chrome versioning scheme. I like Visual Studio versioning scheme with 2 parts: 2010 for end user and 10.0.40219.1  for internal use.
Alex Vasilevsky Send private email
Monday, March 03, 2014
 
 
Pros:
* It's your idea and you like it

Cons:
* Requires training your user on you own system that no one else use;
* Makes your software feel obsolete fast. Version 3.0 can continue selling for years to come; Version 2001, not so much.
* Disconnects your versions from actual milestones in the product.
The general idea is:
X.0 = New major version. Expect fancy new features, game changing inovations
X.n = bug fixes and minor improvements
This creates an expectation. Release version X.0 and people expect a new milestone has been reached. Release 2014.3 and people think "Huh, March 2014. Is there anything new or is this just the effing release date?"
Sylvain Galibert Send private email
Tuesday, March 04, 2014
 
 
I've settled on v1.00 for intial release, then +0.01 for minor fixes and updates, or +0.10 for larger fixes or updates, and +1.00 for major updates where a lot of the product is changed.
PSB136 Send private email
Wednesday, March 05, 2014
 
 
@Psb136: did you release?
fp615 Send private email
Wednesday, March 05, 2014
 
 
Don't listen to anyone, just stick to something already that you would not want to change next year. This concerns product name too by the way.

Look at the mess called "Java names and version numbers":

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Java_version_history

then recall that for developers it is still at version 1!

D:\>java -version
java version "1.7.0_11"
Java(TM) SE Runtime Environment (build 1.7.0_11-b21)
Java HotSpot(TM) 64-Bit Server VM (build 23.6-b04, mixed mode)
Dmitry Leskov Send private email
Wednesday, March 05, 2014
 
 
@fp615, yes but keeping it very low key for now.
PSB136 Send private email
Sunday, March 09, 2014
 
 
@Sylvain Galibert

0) My idea is Visual Studio versioning system.
1) Visual Studio 2013 Update 1. What is not clear? Whom do you want to teach this?
2) You can use Visual Studio 2002. Why not?
3)  Visual Studio  versioning system has 2 parts. For example, Visual Studio 2013 is 12.0.21005.1. @TrippinOnIT Thank you!

P.S. If you have any questions do not hesitate contuct us.
Alex Vasilevsky Send private email
Sunday, March 09, 2014
 
 
> yes but keeping it very low key for now.

PSB136 , yes, be careful--you might accidentally sell some of them!  :D  (Sounds like you have released "in name only").
Racky Send private email
Sunday, March 09, 2014
 
 
Racky, I don't know what you mean by "in name only"?  And by low key, I meant no announcement here so you can all see it.  Reason: if I fail, I don't want to be remembered, as I couldn't handle the humiliation.  It was released late Feb as I intended, and has over 100 downloads on Softpedia so far, plus over 30 on Download.com (which only publised it this month).  Softpedia actually gave it a nice review and 3.5/5 stars, which isn't bad.

Working on my next product's release, which is about a week away.  A better app actually, which I'm more proud of and will be my main focus.  The other one is take-it-or-leave-it for me now, which is weird.  I kinda lost interest in it the moment I released it.  Can't explain that feeling?
PSB136 Send private email
Monday, March 10, 2014
 
 
@PB136:

> Racky, I don't know what you mean by "in name only"? 

Well, when you wrote you were keeping the release "very low key", given what appeared to be a real reticence on your part to release your app, I imagined you putting up a website to sell the app but really not advertising it in any way, lest people visit the site and then you would finally know if you "failed" or not.  So "in name only" meant that *technically speaking* the app was for sale, but in practice no one knew about it so it really wasn't yet. 

Of course, what the heck do I know about your thoughts?  It was just a wild guess and prod for more info from you.  Thanks.

> And by low key, I meant no announcement here so you can all see it.  Reason: if I fail, I don't want to be remembered, as I couldn't handle the humiliation. 

I thought we already discussed here this very issue, with the offered advice is that one learns from failures and analysis of what may have been done not as well as it could have been.  In fact, you learn a lot that way, and most success pundits mention this (and it strikes me as largely correct). Imagine if you go three months with no sales, and then some bright Russian or English fellow points out something you didn't consider and your sales go up to 10/month?

You'd have no good reason to feel anything like humiliation at all--unless your app was a client that updated the user's desktop with realtime images of you in the bathroom.

> It was released late Feb as I intended, and has over 100 downloads on Softpedia so far, plus over 30 on Download.com (which only publised it this month).  Softpedia actually gave it a nice review and 3.5/5 stars, which isn't bad.

Nice.  Any buys yet?

> Working on my next product's release, which is about a week away. 

That was quick!

> I kinda lost interest in it the moment I released it.  Can't explain that feeling?

Your dopamine levels dropped after the expectation point was reached?  (that's what the research is pointing to nowadays). The act of creating the app was autotelic, and now you've dropped out of the Flow state?  I wish I knew another term for this phenomenon.
Racky Send private email
Monday, March 10, 2014
 
 
I used RoboSoft to submit the product to all the usual sites, and OMG what a nightmare that is these days!  I had no idea that the whole PAD scene had changed, and now uses one central repository called AppVisor.com.  It was a truly horrible experience getting it submitted for publication there, as someone has to manually check your app and approve it.  No more hosting PAD files on your own website anymore!

For my next app (which I was writing in tandem with my old, hence why it's only a week or two away from release), I'll just submit manually to the major sites that actually accepted the auto-submits from RoboSoft.  I think about half the sites that RS submitted rejected it anyway, so I really doubt RoboSoft's usefulness these days.

I think the lack of enthusiasm for my released app may be just due to exhaustion in getting it done and published, so now I just don't want to think about it for a while, LOL.  It's out there and the site's getting steady hits (although only around 10-20 per day), so we'll see.  No other real active marketing yet.  That can come later.  I'm in no real rush because I wasn't making money before and so I don't feel any need to push right now.  I have a day job to fall back on.
PSB136 Send private email
Tuesday, March 11, 2014
 
 

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