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Glossary - Alpha, Beta, RC, Release, Stable, Final, Version



Here's how I perceive the whole alpha/beta/version ball of string. :)


Alpha - the bare skeleton of a program, very crash-prone, full of bugs and lacking many planned features.


Beta - all major planned features and adding minor features, lots of minor bugs, often still some major bugs


RC (Release Candidate) - all major features, most/all minor features, only minor/unknown bugs should remain


Release - all major features, all minor features, no known bugs (except maybe a couple that are proving really hard to fix)


Stable - no known bugs, or at least the few remaining known bugs are well-documented edge-cases with workarounds


Final - can mean Stable, can mean Release, can mean last minor revision of a particular version on the roadmap


Version - a numerical way of distinguishing that the software is different from the last time it was published, often in the form of a date (e.g. ymd 20120616), integer (e.g. build# 1234) or revision (e.g. major.minor 2.3) or combination (e.g. ymd.build or revision.build or y.major.minor.build)


Roadmap - a list of planned features sorted by planned version, at least in theory.


For a hypothetical example, Fooware 2014 build 5.4 Beta might be a program published in the year 2014, is the 5th major version of that program, which in turn has seen 4 minor revisions (added another minor feature and/or fixed some bugs since the 3rd minor revision) that is still in Beta (has a tendency to crash for at least six different reasons along with numerous edge case problems).


To further confuse things, Alpha/Beta/etc can refer to a particular version of a program, a range of versions of a program, or be a separate tag independent of the version numbering scheme, depending on the preference of the person(s) doing the naming. For example, if you see a roadmap with Fooware 2014.5.3 Stable followed by Fooware 2014.5.4 Beta, this is likely to mean that a new minor feature has been added that may/has introduced some new bugs as well.

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Beta's tend to be a bit more "in flux" when it comes to features. RC's are usually feature complete (and none will be added or removed unless necessary), but there may be some small bugs that crop up, or not completely fixed.


Other than that, that is pretty much spot on for the "standard naming practices" that most companies use.

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