inessential by Brent Simmons

NetNewsWire 2.0 progress report

We had hoped to ship NetNewsWire 2.0 before WWDC—or at least have a public beta released. But, well, I was optimistic. It looks like it will have to wait until July.

Just so you know, here’s where it’s at...

The major new features are all in testing, except for synching, which I’ve been concentrating on this week. As soon as synching is in testing—either this week or right after WWDC—then all that remains is adding a couple small features, fixing bugs, and adding polish.

In other words, we’re just about to turn the corner and enter the home stretch.

We have a large group of testers, and they’ve been doing a great job of banging on things. Stability is job #1, and it appears to be at least as stable as 1.0.8, if not more so. Performance is also important—some of our testers have huge subscription lists that we’ve been testing with, and we’ve done a bunch of work to make NetNewsWire faster.

(Stability and performance are ongoing jobs, of course, and we’ll continue to work on them after 2.0 ships. Every app could be faster and more stable.)


My dilemma is: when should we release a public beta?

On one hand I want the public beta to be highly polished, so that people get a good impression of the app.

But on the other hand I’m eager to have you get a chance to use all the new features, even if they’re not quite perfect yet.


As an example of what I mean, look at the tabs above. Note how the close button is on the right side. This is an example of the many little details that need to be cleared up before shipping the final version. (Should the close buttons be on the left, a la Safari? But then should the favicon move to the right? Should it be a pref? Or...?)

With a closed testing program, everybody has a stake in improving the app. With a public beta, lots of people evaluate it as if it’s a finished, shipping app—which isn’t fair to the software, but they do it anyway.

So I’m torn between releasing the public beta early, before it’s very polished yet, and releasing it later, when it’s very close to being the final, shipping version.

What do you think? Would it be dumb to release the public beta sooner rather than later, or should I just go for it, release it at the soonest possible date?

A few facts

I’ve mentioned these things before, but I figured I’d repeat them since they’ve scrolled off my weblog...

NetNewsWire 2.0 will be a free upgrade. Everybody who bought (or will buy) 1.x will get all 2.x updates for free.

And here’s a partial list of the new features in 2.0:

Flagged items
Sample style sheets
Embedded browsing
Smart lists (like smart playlists in iTunes)
Scripted feeds
Search engine feeds
Activity window
Errors window
Support for external weblog editors
Importing/exporting OPML with groups
Atom feed support
Per-feed refresh settings
Suspended feeds