On Beta Testing

Brent Simmons:

This style of beta testing isn’t something I just accidentally fell into. It came from the mid-’90s. UserLand had just released Frontier’s free “Aretha” version, and there was a mailing list for people using Aretha.

I’d never been a part of anything like that. There were all these people talking about everything about the app. It was collegial and interesting and fun — and Dave Winer, the developer, was so open about everything, and he listened. It seemed like a miracle to me that such a thing could exist. I loved it. I’d been waiting all my life for such a thing, for a community like this.

I threw myself into it, then ended up working with Dave informally on some small projects, and later took a job at UserLand (which was my dream job, for sure). […]

It might seem funny to think of beta lists as having children and grandchildren, but the NetNewsWire list was very much the child of the Frontier list, and the Glassboard and Vesper lists were the grandchildren.

The best beta group I’ve ever been a part of is BBEdit’s. I got invited in the late 90’s after having sent a series of bug reports and feature requests. I’ve been on it ever since. If Frontier’s beta testing mailing list is one of Vesper’s grandparents, BBEdit’s is another. Even better, it’s one that’s still thriving.

Saturday, 27 August 2016