Over the last 6 months we have released SAM Animation v1.4, then v.1.4.1 and it’s certainly likely we’ll push out v1.5 in early 2012 … so why all the releases and why can’t we just do one big one to cover all new features and fixes?
Well, in reflecting on recent readings from well-regarded tech entrepreneurs, there’s this catch22 that we grapple with in developing and releasing products: We want to fold in “just one more feature” before putting a release out there, but that inevitably delays a release and then another bug comes up during that time that we want to fix…oh–and then in that timespan another new feature is done so let’s fold that in too….pretty soon the original release is delayed 2 months! And during that extra 2 months our customers – in this case parents, kids, teachers, schools – are still using the oldest version and wishing that a bug was fixed or a new feature was added, both of which could’ve been given to them sooner if we hadn’t pushed the release back to fold in more “stuff.” What a difficult spot we're in!
The point is, we are striving to be completely transparent in that we are always thinking, building, compiling user feedback, in an effort to improve the product. And we’d rather put out a number of releases (within reason, obviously) that incrementally improve on the previous ones so we can get immediate feedback and continue to iterate, providing a better product all around. While SAM Animation was in initial development under the grant at Tufts, well before the launch of iCreate, we followed a similar policy of pushing out what we had, getting feedback from classrooms (while sometimes harsh!) then iterating and pushing out again. It’s expected for companies to do this when their product is in “beta” form, but when a product surpasses the beta stage, it’s still evolving!
We are always listening to user requests and fielding user frustrations, so that we can build that into another release. So, don't be alarmed in the next couple of months if we annonce a 'pick your feature' survey for v1.5, send out other product news, and continue to commuicate regularly as we are trying to make sure our customers are aware of our recent versions, talking to us about how we can better our product, then allowing us to continue to iterate and release an evolving (for the better!) learning tool.
Thank you to our customers who have provided us feedback to-date as we always take it seriously! And thank you for understanding our conundrum of identifying where to draw the line on each release so we can get it out there!