Continuous Feedback instead of Beta Program

About two weeks ago, Jamie Sammons announced that Liferay 7.2 Community Beta Program is scheduled to start with the release of 7.2 Alpha 1, which is just around the corner. We know there are some people impatiently waiting for the program. In fact a question about it popped up on one of our Slack channels back in December. My response was

“... you (and everyone else) are and will always be able to help with and influence any release. Initiatives like “beta program” are typically started as the release date approaches but you don’t have to wait for them. The product is developed in public, all the code is on GitHub and all tasks are in Jira. You are more than welcome to follow and contribute. And of course if there is anything we can do to make this process easier for you, please tell us”

The discussion that followed, revealed an issue which, I guess we never thought of seriously enough. So, I was technically right - all the information is public! Ironically that precisely is the issue - “all the information” is actually a lot and is extremely hard to make sense of.. Especially if you are not aware of company’s internal processes and conventions.

So Beta Program fixes that problem - it provide concise, well organized, somewhat documented preview of the new and improved features. This makes it easier for our respectful community members to try them out and send valuable feedback.

Sadly it introduces another issue. It comes too late in the game and it takes place during the worst possible time for our engineering teams. The time when the features are almost done, being polished and getting ready to be released. As most of you are developers, I don’t think I need to explain to you how “let’s turn this feature upside down” kind of feedback is received at this time even if it is in fact the right thing to do. The typical end result in this case is the feature remains as is and people on both sides of the table feel unhappy (because of extra pressure or because of being “ignored”).

In the last several weeks, Developer Relations team has been analysing the results of previous Beta Programs and our ability to improve the outcome this time. It wasn’t an easy decision, but we reached the conclusion that we will not run a formal Liferay 7.2 Community Beta Program!

That is not to say, we don’t want your feedback! Let me emphasize this - We Do Want Your Feedback! It’s just that we want to make the overall process better, rather than concentrate everyone’s effort into a fixed period of time.

We are currently working close with our product teams to establish relaxed, continuous feedback process that makes all participants feel comfortable and respects their time and constraints.

Short term, we are looking into “picking a low hanging fruits” to make it immediately available to you. I hope I will be able to share more details with you very soon. Meanwhile, please download latest milestone / alpha release and provide your feedback by posting in “Feedback for Milestone releases” forum category. We’ll make sure it reaches the right people, keep you posted and perhaps ask you some questions there.

Long term we will continue to work on improving the process. As with the products, we need your feedback on that process too. Do not hesitate to send any ideas, suggestions or struggles you are facing to or via your favorite communication channel.