Monday, June 04, 2007

alpha, beta, gamma, loves you, delta

We all know the various software development cycles. Alpha used to be mostly for internal testing. Beta represented versions released to the wider public for the purpose of real world testing. Nobody dared call their version Gamma out of fear that people would confuse that with their Gamma Phi Beta sorority. So most stuck to Beta, using enumerations to denote post-Beta releases like Beta I (or 1), Beta II (or 2) etc. Then Microsoft figured that an operating system was entitled to a brand new concept of post-Beta test cycles and, that system being Windows, they probably were right. So they started issuing what they euphemistically called Release Candidate versions to the public. Of course, you could always find some very peculiar versioning conventions if you looked hard enough, like Knuth's TeX ever approaching Pi numbers. By the time open source software became de facto, and releases were mostly Web Server software updates, Release Candidate sounded too formal and rigorous, so Gamma became the new Beta II. Now Flickr calls one of its recent releases "LOVES YOU", instead of Delta, Gamma II, Super/Post Candidate Release I, signalling a new era of version naming standard. Who knows what the next release will be? WILL MARRY YOU perhaps.