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Software release advice

Posted on 2005-04-20
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Last Modified: 2010-04-05
HI guys,
Me and my friends are going to be releasing some software to the market place soon. It is our first ever go at it and would like to seek some advice from some experts who have released software into the market.
What should we be aware of?
What should we look out for?
What should we make sure we do/dont do?
Any advice is appreciatted, and I am sure that this thread could become interesting for other people in the same shoes as us.

regards
f1star
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Question by:f1star
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StevenB earned 400 total points
ID: 13831273
 Make sure you have good development practices. Make sure that your code is managed by some sort of version control system and that the development environment can be easily replicated. Ensure and that your build process is easily managed and ideally automated. Ensure that you have some form of development task management system in place that ought to be linked to an issue management system for tracking bug reports. Do not be tempted to deliver bespoke patches for individual clients, roll all bug fixes into new point release updates for general delivery to ensure better version tracking and source management. Employ a rigorous testing, validation and verification process, make sure you allow time for this in your product delivery cycle. Avoid the strong temptation to sacrifice testing time to add extra functionality to a release.

  There are tools to manage most of these processes, I can suggest a few if you're interested.

  Good Luck,

  Steven.
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by:DavidBirch2dotCom
DavidBirch2dotCom earned 400 total points
ID: 13832394
Ensure that the software source is properly protected, and that your method of registering software and ensuring the copies have been brought is water tight, a resource which you may find interesting is http://www.inner-smile.com/nocrack.phtml theres a few hours reading there ;)

A method I would favour, would be to register online, users buy a software key which they send to the server which returns an activation key, but ensure that the clients computers & server times are within a few minutes of each other (watch time zones) so that the activation key only works for prehaphs an hour either side of the time it was generated, thus stopping most attempts for key generators, though you would need to watch people putting thier computers back in time by comparing to some OS file or boot log.

David
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Author Comment

by:f1star
ID: 13838656
Thanks for starting it off guys, those are some really good suggestions. I can already feel that it is tempting to sacrifice on the solid testing of the software. It does seem to be the most boring part ;), but I think it can save us alot of heart ache in the long term...
Steven I wouldn't mind having a look at some of those tools you have suggested, bearing in mind though that we are on a limited budget if you can suggest anything that costs little to no money that would be best. However I am sure other readers would be interested in anything oyu had to share....
David
Protecting your software does seem to be a major issue, that is not so easy to overcome, we have employed a siple method at the moment that will stop your average computer user from copying and passing the software to his/her friends but I think if a hacker really wanted to spread our software then they probably could do that, I will check out the link oyu have suggested

if you don't mind I would like to leave this one open for a while to give other EE members a chance to share their point of view.
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by:Voodooman
Voodooman earned 400 total points
ID: 13838916

Lucky you ... I wish everybody wanted to copy my software.....

Best I thing is to limit the software in some way.  Only 50 entries/no printing or somesuch.  When the 50 entries are reached you can give the buyers access to a download that needs an unlock code.  This I believe is the most effective method for us mortals.

When people are trying to hack your software or seriously copy it - you've made it - you will be a millionaire for sure and could not care less about the few muppetts who will pirate it anyway.....

Voodooman

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Expert Comment

by:StevenB
ID: 13840294
For issue management I use Jira (http://www.atlassian.com/software/jira/) from Atlassian. For source control I use perforce (http://www.perforce.com/) and for the build process I use FinalBuilder (http://www.finalbuilder.com/)

Whilst these products are far from cheap, they are not the most expensive out there either. This set of products have been selected for their own excellent individual performance and for their neat interoperability. Jira and Perforce in particular we have linked so that Perforce code checkins are automatically associated with a Jira issue. FinalBuilder is scheduled to run a complete system build every night (complete code checkout, compilation of all source code, execution of unit tests and compilation of setup application scripts) so that each morning we have either a newly compiled and up to date Setup.exe or an error log outlining any build issues from the previous day's development.

As a start up you may not be in a position to invest in this sort of infrastructure initially, but if you have some spare capital available then I'd strongly recommend considering it. The time and heartache it can save you is a real money saver in the long run. If you don't have the resources to set up automated systems for all the processes then you can implement some of them as manual procedures that it would be good practice to follow anyway. I've run build processes as a step by step checklist, issue management in excel workbooks and even source control using velcro labels with unit names printed on them in the past :o)
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by:StevenB
ID: 13840307
Incidentally, I personally wouldn't get too tied up in product security at this stage. It's easy to get so concerned with it that you miss sight of the real goals of the software. Ultimately, if somebody is commited to pirating the software then they will manage to, no matter what restrictions you try to put in place. You run the danger, as a start up operation, of alienating more potential clients with elaborate registration processes than you risk losing sales to pirates (who would never have payed for the software anyway, so you didn't miss out on their sales in the first place)
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Expert Comment

by:Voodooman
ID: 13841383

Hi StevenB

I agree, the important thing is to get your best product out their as quickly, easily and cheaply as possible.  I have put huge parts of my life into different software and only sold software for $50k.

I have product out there that has been running for 13 years without problem (honest). I have designed some brilliant product and ended up with handfulls of extremely satisfied users but little cash!

A good solid product with a known market is what you need, the trouble is there are thousands of similar products out there.

My suggestion to simply limit the software is from my own experience of trial software.  It is very diffiuclt to set up reliably on all platforms etc and takes time to implement and test.

I suggest you get a good solid product out there with a good help system and manual as quickly and cheaply as possible as it may be much harder to sell than you think.

I have been working on a simple new product with Help, good installer etc.  I had the idea that with excellent RAD tools and an experienced programmer it should be possible to create a prog within a 100 hour timescale.

I think this is going to be (with the context help, installer etc) around 150 hours of very hard work.

If anyone's interested you can download and trial my software at http://www.Project-Eo.com - did I do a professional job - this was about 300 hrs work.....?

Voodooman
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Author Comment

by:f1star
ID: 13903748
Thanks for your comments guys those are really ehlpful.
We were thinking of spending a bit of time with security but  think now that it would be more benefical to spend that time on testing our software.

Thanks for those links to Steven. I thikn for now they are a bit out of our price range but perhaps in the future...

I would like to leave this question running for a little longer if you don't mind but I would like to reward you for your efforts as they have beeen of great assistance :)
regards
f1star
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Author Comment

by:f1star
ID: 14023579
Thank you for all your help guys it is much appreceiatted, I hope other people can benefit from your experience as well.
Best of luck in the future.

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by:StevenB
ID: 14024192
Good luck with the software.

Steven.
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