What’s in a name?

Until recently I wouldn’t have said much. I’m talking about software release names rather than personal names – I quite like my name, it was the name my Grandad on my dads side who died when my dad was still quite young. But apart from that, I’m talking about the terms that seems to be bandied around almost interchangeably recently.

Words like Alpha and Beta have been the fodder of software releases for a good long while, then new acronyms started to appear like mushrooms in a school football field (another childhood memory). Things like RC – sounds good then you get RC1 RC2 RC3 .. RCn which when you start getting n > 3 you don’t know what you’re doing. Now we get Microsoft in on the act with CTP which sounds all cuddly and you’re really really part of our community, isn’t it nice that we’re friends now. They don’t even bother to use n just date it so they can produce as many as they like and nobody gets any the wiser.

In the open source world you get things like Stable, Development and Nightlies (I always think of my Grandma with that word – take out the l) fair enough you know more or less what you’re getting. If you want stability you, shock horror, choose the stable build. Only if you’re truly bleeding edge do you go for the nightly.

Now back to this – what’s in a name. We release SQL Data Compare 6 Alpha lately and it seemed to go down very well, so well in fact that we cancelled the Beta program entirely and are now going all out for release sometime early in October. But I made a mistake in the first place – I called it an Alpha. This brings connotations of the Alphas of old which could quite happily trash your machine and leave you having the re-install. My meaning was just to try to signify that the product wasn’t feature complete. However we didn’t get quite the usage out of the Alpha that we’d have hoped for. Basically, should have called it a Beta.

We’ve not forgotten about the iPod shuffles for all those people who tried out the Alpha and I’ll be trying to organise that after the code freeze which should happen this week (will luck).