Does Nisus undersell itself when numbering upgrades?

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greenmorpher
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Does Nisus undersell itself when numbering upgrades?

Post by greenmorpher »

We've been talking about Nisus's update/upgrade intervals and the question of numbering them, e.g. we waited for a year to go from 2.0.4 to 2.0.5 and then a few weeks later, got 2.0.6 which seems to me to be mainly a tweak and a bug fix of 2.0.5 which was much more substantial.

Compare that with PhotoLine, a niche semi-shareware combined raster and vector program for both Windows and Mac produced by a couple of brothers in Germany. it is priced at under $100.

They have just announced v.18 which might be s little under two years since v.17. There were a number of updates and modest upgrades on v.17's run as commonly occurs with PhotoLine (I've been using it since v.13).

Have a look at what they are offering in the new version: http://www.pl32.com/forum3/viewtopic.php?f=6&t=3904

That looks pretty right to me for a full digit upgrade. What do you think? How does it compare in your view with what Nisus is offering in upgrades and the way it designates them?

Cheers Geoff

Geoffrey Heard
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Bushtrack Enterprises Ltd
http://www.bushtrackpng.com

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CrisB
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Re: Does Nisus undersell itself when numbering upgrades?

Post by CrisB »

With over thirty years experience in first the Computer industry, then in DP, and now the IT industry, starting as a machine code programmer and ending up as technical director, I'm now just a happy Mac user. I've been meaning to write up software version numbers to eliminate any confusion for a long time. I guess now's the time.

Software numbers have three components which inform you what the new issue of the software contains. The first number is the major release, the second is the minor release, the third is the bug-fix version. Nisus Writer Professional is currently at NWP 2.0.6.

Major release. When Nisus issue NWP 3.0.0, the change in the highest level number will tell you it has major improvements, new facilities and changes. Using it may not be downwards compatible with the previous issue of the same software, and it often has substantial changes to its architecture and to your way of using it. You will perhaps need to recode or substantially revise your applications to use it, the upgrade is unlikely to be seamless. It's a great idea to repeat any system tests before it goes live.

Minor release. When Nisus issue NWP 2.1.0, its numbers - specifically the change in the second number, (the third will always be 0) - tell you it contains some new facilities, as well as the bug-fixes they all contain. Such new capabilities are not necessarily major, and they won't involve you making major changes to the way you work. The chances are it will be upwards compatible from the way things were in the previous issue, and upgrading to use it will be relatively seamless.

Bug-fix. When Nisus Pro issued version NWP 2.0.6, the numbers tell you it's a bug-fix. As such it won't change much if anything in the way you work. This bug-fix came out so soon because 2.0.5 contained a serious bug meaning at least one user had to revert to 2.0.4. You can just install a bug-fix, it should be completely seamless. Most companies seem to issue bug-fix versions every few months, which is why I'm try to persuade Nisus to issue bug-fixes more frequently than once a year.

What is the difference between a major and a minor new release? Experience! And Nisus have lots of experience ...

Firefox. There was substantial industry resistance to Firefox's number change which pretends every new release issued every six weeks is major! Issued that frequently, they obviously are not, it's impossible. Worse, such a frenetic schedule means that software reliability suffers. And this has happened, I experience Firefox as not nearly so reliable under this six week schedule, minor things stop working and are not fixed. Worse, the Firefox release number no longer tells you if it's major, or minor, or just a bug-fix, it gives you very little if any info about what you can expect from the new release. A very poor decision.

Apple is also ignoring accepted industry norms in the naming of MacOS OSX, although they did keep to accepted practice previously with OS6 (on my Mac Plus), OS7, OS8, and OS9. Since OSX is the name of the MacOS, they don't change the top number, it's a marketing decision, yet happily the numbers are still informative. Snow Leopard 10.6, Lion 10.7 and Mountain Lion 10.8 were all major releases.

This seems to be largely compatible with Geoff's view on my previous post asking for more frequent bug-fixes at: http://nisus.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f= ... 9&start=15

Hope you find this helpful, warm regards,
Cris
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greenmorpher
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Re: Does Nisus undersell itself when numbering upgrades?

Post by greenmorpher »

So how did you see NWP 2.0.5, Cris. In your view, was that under-rated as I suggested?

Cheers, geoff

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CrisB
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Re: Does Nisus undersell itself when numbering upgrades?

Post by CrisB »

NWP 2.0.5 had an enormous number of bug-fixes. It took over a year because Nisus waited to issue so many at once. You already know my view that far fewer bug-fixes issued more often would cause people to endure bugs and their work-arounds for less time leading to improved customer satisfaction in the bug-fixing area, see http://www.nisus.com/forum/viewtopic.ph ... p=2#p24699.

But was 2.0.5 actually under-rated, and really a minor release rather than just a bug-fix? Apart from macros, it seems it was only a bug-fix. But was the new macro processing major? or simply an extension of capabilities? I don't know enough about macros to have an opinion, but I do know that Nisus know what they're doing. Since they labelled it a bug-fix, this suggests 2.0.5 simply extended the macro processing capabilities...

Elbrecht has recently posted something about major new bi-directional facilities in Version 6.3 Unicode Bidirectional Algorithm, see http://nisus.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=18&t=5466. I imagine that will entail significant internal changes to NWP, and hence will probably be released as NWP 3.0. Another crucial consideration is that Nisus charge for major new releases, but not for bug-fixes...

As a matter of interest, do you know why a bug is called a bug? Originally computers had wires and valves, and when a circuit failed, it was mostly a short-circuit because a bug had got itself fried. To get it working again you had to find the bug and remove it. So hardware computer problems were called bugs, and when software came along, the name stuck. Cute, eh.

Warm regards, Cris
Last edited by CrisB on 2013-10-06 21:39:58, edited 2 times in total.
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greenmorpher
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Re: Does Nisus undersell itself when numbering upgrades?

Post by greenmorpher »

And then the bug fixes got bug fixed in 2.0.6.

Fine from a technical POV then, but I would suggest that Nisus needs to redirect what it does with marketing in mind. The market wants "progress" (whatever) so after such a long period, Nisus should be producing at least a .1 or .2 upgrade. Doing a lot of bug fixing -- great -- but work on developing a feature at least to give the market something to talk about.

I had to chuckle at this most recent upgrade for PhotoLine. They had one tool in development that was still a problem when everything else was ready -- they do extensive beta testing and it is open -- so right now, the icon is in the tool menu but it does nothing. They have done this once or twice before. They will come out with a .1 (free) upgrade soon with the fully functional tool. They have done this once or twice before and never failed to deliver.

They work on the same basis as Nisus -- pay for full number upgrade but not for the bug fixes and improvements in functionality n between (and they do real improvements in functionality free). Since the upgrade costs 29 Euro (59 Euro to buy the program initially) I reckong that;s pretty fair "rent".

Cheers, geoff

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Re: Does Nisus undersell itself when numbering upgrades?

Post by CrisB »

From the financial and marketing viewpoints, you have a valid point. Perhaps when Nisus made the substantial improvements to NWP 2 to interface with (was it Bookends?) several years ago, they could have called that a major release and charged an upgrade fee for it.

But for 2.0.5, even if the macro improvements were so significant that it could have been issued as a minor release instead of just a bug-fix, would it have given them any extra income? Yet then they then could have made more of a deal of it and hyped the improvements.

But is hype Nisus? or is Nisus solid dependable functionality which works intuitively - what Macs have always been about - and ensures fanatically loyal and appreciative users like both of us? Perhaps there is a middle path as you suggest, since a year with no visible progress is a bit too long from today's marketing standpoint.

Warm regards, Cris
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