Beta Tester Program

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  • #123615
    Tom
    Lead Developer
    Lead Developer

    Hi everyone,

    To avoid another messy update like today, I’ve started a beta tester program.

    If you’d like to help me out in testing GeneratePress and our add-ons before release, please sign up here.

    Let me know if you have any questions!

    Thanks 🙂

    #123701
    hari

    Hi Tom,

    let me start by saying, that in no way I am trying to “patronize” you with the following comment. I just try to be helpful and try to support the success of Generate Press. I hope it is received that way.

    Let me also add, that I had my first computer in 1979 as a Tandy TRS80 Level II with a “Zilog Z80”. (lol) Later in the 80s, I was one of the lead programmers of a major operating system and a long list of management positions followed through the decades.

    What I am trying to say is, that I know a lot about software, testing and quality. By the way, that is the reason I dont like individual CSS and PHP changes, I know the possible sideeffects. 😉

    What I am trying to tell you today is:

    Your approach in starting a “Beta-Programm” is a good idea. I support it.

    But …..

    If you truly want to hold your promise of “this will not happen again”, a beta-programm purely based on good will is unfortunately not enough. The problem there is, that you never know, what is tested and what is not and you also don’t know, whether the beta-testers have tested at all.

    What you need in either case, are sufficient test scenarios and test machines, that ensure, that you cover 90+% of all real live scenarios, before you go live. And even then, there is no guarantee, just a smaller probability for disaster.

    But in order to do that, you need a more formal commitment of the “beta-testers” to really nail their scenarios down and spend enough time with testing. And in order for that, you need some incentive for the beta-testers.

    Believe me, it is always the same loop with software:

    1. It starts with an enthusiastic and competent founder-team.
    2. Their competence and dedication leads to success, increasing users and more support scenarios.
    3. In order to keep the complexity of the IT world under control, it needs more QA and more active supporters of the project.
    4. In order to get more people on board, it needs an incentive to motivate them for the “dirty and annoying stuff”. Testing distinct scenarios with every update is no fun to most.
    5. In order to be able to give “incentives”, it needs to professionalize the project monetarily and put a “price tag” on support.
    6. With the better and reliable support, come more “professional” users, that are willing to pay, because they make money from their web project.
    7. And the loop goes on. 😉

    In my experience, this is the way of the software. And Generate Press is no different. You Tom, make a tremendous job and you have a lot of future potential with what you already achieved.

    From my view, you are now in stage 2 and got during the last v1.3.0x updates – that all had their problems due to lack of testing and process – the first glimpse of stage 3.

    You are free to decide whether you want to go down this path or not. But it is my experience and expectation, that if you don’t, some beta testers purely based on “good will” will not be enough.

    Again, I took the time to write this down to help, not to patronize!

    I am very happy with Generate Press and all I want is, that it has a bright future. What I don’t want is, that it crumbles when “the rubber meets the road” between stage 2 and 3.

    I have unfortunately seen to many software projects with great potential failing in this decisive moment.

    Take care!
    Hari

    #123718
    Mark

    let me start by saying, that in every way I <b>am</b> trying to “patronize” you with the following comment.
    I can’t remember my first computer.
    I can state that it was around 1985ish
    I do remember my Tandy 2500 Deskmate, wow it was so cool.
    In those days I had batch files that would amaze the commoner.
    It was a copy con, twenty go to ten, CtrlZ o-rama.

    O.K. about you
    You have hewn your path with Generate Press

    I have seen it grow quadrupling and soaring along.

    You have done a great job with us (GP users).

    O.K. now me, talking about me here, I can’t speak for everyone else.

    I can say that after purchasing your GP you have been there for me and everyone else who has asked.

    To the point that I felt guilty because buying you coffee just did not cut it.

    To the point that I want to adapt you, be it GP or whatever we are running to all of my sites (because of you).

    I am here and will do everything I can as a beta tester.

    I am also available for hire in any of your needs from emptying trash to holding class.

    Thank you,

    Mark
    drfixupdotcom

    #123742
    Tom
    Lead Developer
    Lead Developer

    Hari – thanks for your post, really appreciate you taking the time to discuss with me!

    Paid support may have to become a thing down the road, but I would still have to support the free theme (of course), and I’d have trouble not helping people with some stuff because they don’t pay for the paid support (bad business, maybe?).

    That being said, bugs will happen, that’s inevitable. What I don’t want happening again is fatal bugs, which usually I’m very good at stopping.

    This particular bug was because of a version of PHP that I don’t have installed, but many hosts do. My development server, and all of my own live websites use the latest version, so it slipped through the cracks.

    However, I have about 20 people signed up to be beta testers so far – so once I do all of my beta testing (which will be very thorough from now on), I’ll send it out to all of them to play with.

    If only a handful of them install it and play around for 5 minutes, it should be good enough to know that no fatal errors are going to happen.

    Small bugs here and there most likely won’t be found and fixed every time, but big bugs most likely will.

    That being said, I totally see where you’re coming from, and really appreciate your insight 🙂

    As long as people continue to use and purchase GeneratePress, I’ll do everything in my power to not let it crumble as it enters stage 3. GP is my full time job, and I love it!

    Mark – thanks for your support! Hoping you signed up to be a beta tester and can help me stop any nasty errors from occurring again.

    Thanks to both of you!

    #123765
    hari

    Hi Tom,

    thanks for your reply. And yes, I see your logic and believe you a right.

    If it is just about preventing the fatal, major bugs, it seems totally sufficient to have some people with good will just install a new version, and take a look for a few minutes. That should do the trick for most of the “fatal” problems, as long as your tester base is broad enough in terms of different platforms. At least this diversity of platforms needs to be taken care of.

    For everything below this level, it is definitly not sufficient. But you are right too, on this Level it can be fixed afterwards with your support and attention.

    There might come the time I guess, where you as one person will be overwhelmed by the “support needs afterwards” and need to focus on the quality of test before. But the better you are as a programmer, the longer you can postpone this moment. But with growing success and userbase, this moment will come, it is just a question of time.

    But anyway, unfortunately I am very time-restricted and can not participate in a regular beta test.

    But instead I am happy to donate more that a few coffees 😉 in addition to GP Pro, if you provide me (via direct mail) with a paypal (or similar) link for donation.

    Keep up the good work!
    Hari

    #123798
    Tom
    Lead Developer
    Lead Developer

    Thanks a lot, Hari! That would be awesome!

    I’ve built out a page recently that I haven’t really advertised yet: http://generatepress.com/ongoing-development/

    It allows users to choose what they want to contribute and when they want to contribute.

    Not sure if it’s something I’ll roll with, but I think I like it more than forced yearly updates etc..

    Let me know what you think 🙂

    #123810
    hari

    Tom,

    I used the “Donation-Page” a few minutes ago to donate, what I believe would be a fair yearly support fee, for good, personal support for a WordPress theme like Generate Press.

    You asked, what I think about. Here it comes:

    I think you should add your new “Donations-Page” to your site immediately. What is wrong about telling the world, that you cant live and run the show just “from love and air”.

    Looking into the future, I dont believe it will solve the problem. I never came across a project, that was able to finance itself via free donations. It will always be just a small minority of members/users that are willing to open their pockets out of free will.

    And in the end, it creates an unfair environment. Because few run the project with either a time investment (like your testers) or a donation and others just “consume for free”, although they might have deeper pockets. The will to help others, is not always related to the depths of the pockets as your surely know. 😉

    All projects I came by, that tried to solve financing via free donations, run into that “fairness” problem sooner or later and bad feelings came up.

    In the end I believe there is just one fair solution: that everyone that wants your personal attention, donates in a similar kind (via money or invested time).

    I fully understand and support your position, that every user that has a problem, should get some support. No, that is not “bad business”, it is in fact “good business” and makes a lot of sense, because every success in your business is at the end based on the trust, that the software still works the next day.

    The more important question for you is not “If Support” but “What Support”? For example during the 1.3.0.05 you offered personal help to those, that had their site crashed and were unable to install a fixed version via FTP. Wow! You offered hands on service to those. that have no backups and are unable to use FTP to install a fix from you! You are a very nice person. 😉

    But between 100% dedication for everyone for free and 0% support for those not paying, there is a lot “grey” in between. 😉 And this “grey” makes a lot of sense in the long run, because neither of the 100% or 0% extremes is sustainable in the long run.

    Maybe a basic, non personal support with 24 hour reaction time for those on the free site? And your personal (more or less immediate) support for those, supporting you via time and/or money? That is a “grey” that seems to make sense to me.

    It would allow you to work with the personal on an issue and then roll the info as a general (unpersonal) support information later to all in the “free” userbase. It would allow you to focus your attention. I believe this will become necessary sooner or later, when your success increases and the user base gets larger.

    And there would be no “forced payments” you fear, instead everybody could decide freely, in what category he wants to be. But it is also clear, that “not supporting” makes a difference in quality of service. And that seems to be more than fair. And I guess, this logic would have broad acceptance.

    Also that way you would have your “incentive” for your Beta-Testers. They would get your personal support without additional donation/payment. Seems like a good system to me. 😉

    Think “grey”, not 0% or 100%. 😉 Just my thoughts. 

    And again, the only reason I share my view her, is not that I am trying to insist – this is 100% your game and decision – it is because you asked again for my opinion in your last post.

    Take care!

    Hari

    PS: BTW I am no native english speaker, so bear with some “strange” sentences. 😉

    #123834
    Tom
    Lead Developer
    Lead Developer

    Thanks for the donation – super generous of you! 🙂

    I can definitely see where you’re coming from. The current set up definitely isn’t set in stone.

    People who have already purchased will have their updates for life, but I may change it for future purchases in the future if it’s what is necessary to keep business going strong and GP developing further.

    Love your ideas – really appreciate you brainstorming with me on this, it’s super valuable to have the opinions of others when it comes to this kind of stuff.

    So far I’ve been really cautious as the current system is working really well – customers are happy and sales are good, so it’s hard to make any major changes.

    That being said, I’ve received some good feedback that people wouldn’t mind yearly updates for the support they get, so that puts my mind at rest a little bit.

    Again – thank you so much for your contributions – donation-wise and idea-wide – I really appreciate it.

    I’m always open to hearing new ideas and suggestions 🙂

    Also – your English is great!

    #123870
    hari

    Glad I was of help. Just give solutions with different “user-levels” on the support side a thought.

    If I were you, I would differentiate between the software (the licence) itself and the level of service you personally provide.

    On the Software (licence) side, from my point of view you should stick with your current method of “updates for life”. I dont think you should think otherwise, because it creates a mess of versions in your userbase, when not all customers are more or less on the same version level, as not all get new updates “for free” via their one-time-purchase.

    But as far as the “level of service” is concerned, I cant see why you should give personal attention to every customer, independent of whether the customer has paid something or supported you in any way. That is the area – your personal involvement – where I would create different support levels.

    From my expectation, a growing user base will sooner or later force you to accept, that you cant support everyone in such a perfect, personal way, as you do today.

    But I guess I made my point. Think about it. Good Night!

    #123900
    Mark

    Mark – thanks for your support! Hoping you signed up to be a beta tester and can help me stop any nasty errors from occurring again.

    Yes, Tom at about 8:30 this morning I signed up as a beta tester under the name Benjamin Johnson .

    I will set up a site explicitly for this at triple proofing.

    http://www.tripleproofing.com

    Also, I will add as many plugins or anything needing testing on my platform ..you name it

    #123952
    Tom
    Lead Developer
    Lead Developer

    Hari – I agree, I’ll probably be pushed to do this sooner than later. Really appreciate your input 🙂

    Mark – thanks a lot! You’ll be receiving a version to test out pretty soon!

    #127010
    Adam Zátopek

    Hi Tom,
    I’ve researched what’s missing and I came to one enhancement(if it possible):
    Add favicon change setting to customize. Its easy change in code, but its better customize for clients and partners.

    Adam Zátopek
    Webmaster
    Contact email: adamzatopek@gmail.com
    Contact phone number: +420 731 554 235
    http://www.tint.cz/
    http://www.odborythzokd.cz/
    http://www.pizzasumperk.cz/
    http://www.cp1cafe.cz/
    http://www.optikastodulky.cz/
    http://www.ochi.cz/

    #127097
    Tom
    Lead Developer
    Lead Developer

    Hi Adam,

    This is actually coming to GP in WordPress 4.3 – will be an option in the Customizer 🙂

    #151274
    tenchystryder

    Hi Tom

    I am in no way a developer or expert but I would be happy to set up a spare domian and run beta versions of software for you.

    My server runs PHP versions 5.4 5.5 5.6 (and beta testing 5.7 version)

    #151323
    Tom
    Lead Developer
    Lead Developer
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