Today's blog post is all about “Perpetual Beta” the next pattern as defined by Tim O'Reilly at a Web 2.0 conference all those years ago. The traditional approach to software development is defined by the software development life cycle. Its a process that involves a number of steps to be taken before any software updates are released to the user base, usually its a long time between releases. A perpetual beta approach to Web 2.0 platforms involves continuously providing bug fixes and adding features. This approach has a number of benefits:
- Faster time to market
- Increased responsiveness
- Reduced risk
- Closer relationship with the customers
- Access to real time data
I will compare Delicious a social booking marking website, similar to StumbleUpon against this pattern. After creating an account users can add websites to their account, creating a list of favourite sites. Each site can be tagged, and a descriptive note can be attached. Users share links making the site community driven.
How does Delicious match the perpetual beta pattern? Delicious is an ongoing service, providing fixes as required. The users are the testers, by continued use on various devices, users are actually testing the platform under varied situations and environments. A task not possible via in-house testing. It is critical for modern platforms to engage users in real time testing, and to structure the service to reveal how people use their service. This analysis of usage allows the platform to perpetually update their website to meet the needs of their user base. Information gathered is also used to make decisions about future directions for the platform.
Some of the recent updates to Delicious showing their quick continuous release cycle:
On January 20, 2012, Delicious added more social features into its Stacks page, allowing users to collaborate on the same Stack, as a public Stack or a private Stack among a group of users.
On March 2, 2012, Delicious continued its effort to be more social, by providing a Twitter Connector that allows users to connect their Twitter accounts to their Delicious accounts. This new feature allows links tweeted on Twitter to be automatically saved into the Delicious account.
The frequent updating of the platform creates a presence, users know developers are there, and are active in adding new features, and fixing bugs. The future of Delicious is looking bright, they are proactive in adding new features for their users to enjoy and encouraging a social community environment.