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When do you announce new features?

On the day that the ASP.NET team announce their new WYSIWYG IDE for Visual Studio Orcas [http://weblogs.asp.net/scottgu/archive/2007/01/22/visual-studio-orcas-web-designer-integrated-into-main.aspx] (start downloading that base VPC [http://download.microsoft.com/download/5/4/9/5499b008-8ae7-46f0-89ae-aeeb18df67ae/VSCTPBase.exe] now), it seems appropriate to have a quick muse about when to talk about new releases of software and their contents. Jeremy Miller [http://codebetter.com/blogs/jeremy.miller/default.aspx] started a post series about ‘ilities’ today [http://codebetter.com/blogs/jeremy.miller/archive/2007/01/22/Maintainability-is-_2200_ility_2200_-_2300_1.aspx] so I’d put a vote in for a fuller discussion than this on Visibility. Microsoft’s monthly(-ish) CTP releases may be a burden to our phone bills but they also make transparent the direction that the product will go which promotes discussion and sometimes even a change in tack of development. Which is good. Compare and contract Fog Creek software’s reluctance to release details of Fogbugz v6.0 despite some debate on its support forums [http://support.fogcreek.com/default.asp?fogbugz.4.13820.16]. Joel Spolsky, the owner of Fog Creek, explains neatly why he prefers less frequent releases and not releasing information about what’s in a new release here [http://www.joelonsoftware.com/articles/PickingShipDate.html], but is a black box approach wise? Ship dates aside, when do you think initial information about a new project or version of a new product should be released?

Posted on January 23, 2007   #Geek Stuff  

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