Ah yes, software product release. When do you let that product go? When is it good enough? What if there are more problems? This is publishing at its best.
The joy of easy updates
I will say that what we do with software today is sheer joy compared to the stress of releasing a product in the middle 1990s. Back then we had to finish the software, test it, test it again, and then duplicate physical disks and assemble packages and send them out in pallets to the stores. Some undiscovered mistake could be a disaster. It could literally kill companies. The disks were out there, thousands of them.
Today, in contrast, we can change the masters of downloadable software whenever we want. We can post updates on the web. New versions happen as soon as we add features. We update LivePlan caref when we packaged them up and duplicated disks and sent them out to the world with the assumption that we wouldn’t discover problems soon after. Those disks had a life of their own. Nowadays we can update a web app constantly, let people download the software, change the latest version overnight.
Adequate is good enough? Maybe.
What I do want to write about is the late Adam Osborne, founder of Osborne Computers, writer, columnist, and inspiration to a generation of computer writers turned entrepreneurs.
I had the privilege of dealing with Adam Osborne a few times during the early Silicon Valley days. Two of his sayings come to mind:
- “Adequate is good enough,” he said, more than once. He was talking about product development and technology business. “Ship it.”
- He also espoused what he liked to call the Adam Osborne Trade Show Theory of Productivity, which was, in detail: “80% of the GDP is finished the night before the trade show opens.”
I have to admit, looking back, that I’m glad now that we have a different system.