Development stage terminology expresses how the development of a piece of software has progressed and how much further development it may require. more...
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Each major version of a product usually goes through a stage when new features are added (alpha stage), then a stage when it is actively debugged (beta stage), and finally a stage when all important bugs have been removed (stable stage). Intermediate stages may also be recognized. The stages may be formally announced and regulated by the project's developers, but sometimes the terms are used informally to describe the state of a product. Conventionally, code names are often used by many companies for versions prior to the release of the product, though the actual product and features are rarely secret.
Sometimes a build known as pre-alpha is issued, before the release of an alpha or beta. In contrast to alpha and beta versions, the pre-alpha is usually not "feature complete". At this stage designers are still determining exactly what functionalities the product should have. Such builds can also be called development releases or nightly builds.
The alpha version of a product still awaits full debugging or full implementation of all its functionality, but satisfies a majority of the software requirements. It often lacks features promised in the final release, but demonstrates the feasibility and basic structure of the software.
The alpha build of the software is the first build delivered to the software testers.
In the first phase of alpha testing, developers test the software using white box techniques. Additional inspection is then performed using black box or grey box techniques. This is usually done by another dedicated testing team sometimes concurrently. Moving to black box testing is often known as the second stage of alpha testing.
The name is derived from alpha, the first letter in the Greek alphabet.
A beta version or beta release usually represents the first version of a computer program that implements all required feature although additional features may be added. It is likely to be unstable but useful for internal demonstrations and previews to select customers, but not yet ready for release. Some developers refer to this stage as a preview, as a technical preview (TP) or as an early access.
Often this stage begins when the developers announce a feature freeze on the product, indicating that no more features requirements will be accepted for this version of the product. Only software issues, or bugs and unimplemented features will be addressed.
Beta versions stand at an intermediate step in the full development cycle. Developers release them to a group of beta testers (sometimes the general public) for a user test. The testers report any bugs that they found and sometimes minor features they would like to see in the final version.
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