Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Beta 3 - Don't Panic

X-Plane 9 is currently in beta 2. Long-time X-Plane users know that a lot of bugs get fixed between early and late betas, and they also know that a good number of bugs get added between the early betas.*

If all goes well, X-Plane 9 beta 3 will be out in a few days. My advice is: don't panic. X-Plane beta 2 crashes for a number of users, so our top priority is to fix the crash and get the fix out ASAP. If your bug doesn't get fixed in beta 3, it's probably because we're still working on it but didn't want to delay getting the crash fix to users.

Similarly, beta 3 will include some performance improvements, but more are coming. Beta 3 doesn't represent the end of our performance tuning, it represents the first beta that we can do serious analysis with. We only have a fraction of all of the supported video cards within the company, so if your computer is having performance problems, well, we'll figure out what's going on in beta 3 and then fix it.

* Our approach to bug fixing is: if a piece of code is buggy because it's subsystem has a design problem, we go in and fix the design problem, even if we're in beta. Other companies might say "no fixing design problems (which changes more code) during beta." But the way I look at it, badly designed code is just going to cause problems all the time until it's fixed, and it has to be fixed some day, so why wait.

(Why would there be badly designed code in X-Plane, or any computer program? Computer programs change over time, and the functionality they perform changes and grows. As this happens, the designs of the past no longer make sense for future requirements. In my experience most design problems come from code "outgrowing" its framework.

So our approach is to upgrade the framework as soon as it shows signs of growing pains, rather than jamming as many features into the existing framework as possible until it becomes so overcrowded that we can't get anything done.)

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