Software Release Life Cycle (SRLC)

 A software release life cycle is the culmination of the various stages of growth and maturity for a piece of computer software, starting with its initial development and ending with its actual release, as well as any updated releases that are made to help improve the software or address any bugs that may still exist in the released version.


Such a life cycle has a number of models. Microsoft's suggestion of breaking software development into five phases—Pre-alpha, Alpha, Beta, Release Candidate, and Stable—is a popular one. All of the software project's preliminary testing operations are referred to as pre-alpha. When the software is feature-complete but still likely to have a number of known or unknowing defects, the alpha phase often starts. When a piece of software is declared feature-complete but is still thought to have a number of known or undiscovered problems, the beta phase often starts. Software that is still in the production stage typically has a lot more bugs and performance problems than software that has been finished.


Beta testing focuses on minimizing user impacts and frequently includes usability testing. The act of distributing a beta version to consumers is known as a beta release, and this is usually the first time the program is made accessible to users outside of the company that created it. Release candidates are software product versions that are almost ready for production release but are still being checked for software issues that can be either fixed or worked around in these versions.


The use of a software release life cycle is comparable to that of a hardware life cycle. For its iOS and macOS operating systems, Apple Inc., for instance, adheres to a major release cycle. Major versions and minor versions are alternately paired for major releases. MacOS Mojave is version 10.14, and MacOS Catalina is version 10.15. A minor release, which includes security updates, bug patches, and enhancements to the operating system, comes after each major version of an operating system. For instance, on November 5, 2019, Apple launched macOS Catalina 10.15.1.


Software release cycles come in many scopes and are frequently characterized by release types. Beta releases are a sort of release that is not covered by a software release life cycle.


Software Release Life Cycle (SRLC)

Six Stages Of The Software Release Lifecycle

Depending on the type of system being built and the requirements of the development team, many stages of the software release life cycle might be used. The "stages" identify significant turning points in the creation of a product and enable the development team and project managers to monitor development.


Additionally, they enable the development teams to monitor trends in the apps and online applications and confirm that advancements are being achieved throughout the course of iterations. Usually, it contains the following six phases:-


This is a Pre-Alpha Version:-

Pre-Alpha is the first phase of the Software Release Life Cycle. During this phase of the process, the development of a product takes precedence over its marketing and public distribution. It details each step taken during the initial development phase prior to testing. The pre-alpha process typically goes through the following phases: analysis, designing, development, and unit testing.


Finding out how the software application has to change in order to get ready for more widespread releases like the alpha version or beta version takes up a significant portion of the pre-alpha version. To guarantee smooth transitions between the various stages of the software release life cycle, the development team must implement strong software testing, usability, and automation.


My co-founder and I had already gone through the Pre-Alpha phase with the SaaS solution we incorporated into SS&C Intralinks. We had an architected, designed, and fully developed functioning application. However, it is crucial to keep in mind that a small software company's understanding of the Analysis, Designing, Development, and Unit Testing phases might unquestionably differ from the viewpoint and degree of rigor for these steps at a large firm.


The Pre-Alpha Version Will Be Launched In Four Phases:-

Analysis:- It is the first stage of the software release life cycle or SRLC, and it entails carefully examining the issue and specifications of a system. It entails studying user needs, and crucial functionality, pinpointing the issue, establishing SRS, and providing feasibility studies (Software Requirement Specification).


Designing:- Development teams provide a solution for the issue that was identified in the analysis stage at this step. This phase entails creating mock-ups and a high-level design document that describes how to use the software product. The design document outlines the fundamental procedures that must be taken to create the web application.


Development:- During this stage, a development team actually codes the requirements specifications into a finished piece of software. Once coding is finished, developers will perform testing and handle bug fixes as early as possible.


Unit Testing:- Before sending their module to the QA (Quality Assurance) development team for additional testing, developers perform unit testing. Before integrating the code into the entire program, developers verify that each and every line of source code is valid during this phase.


Version Alpha

The alpha stage is a code name for the stage of development that happens before a product is released and it stands for the first letter of the Greek alphabet. Software that has just undergone its initial round of testing is referred to as "alpha" or "alpha version" by software engineers. Internal staff members or developers within the company carry out alpha testing.


The developer's site conducts this kind of test; the customer's site does not. After the system testing is finished but before the beta testing, alpha testing is carried out. This test is conducted to identify any usability, functionality, or consistency faults or flaws.


In this kind of test, a team of individuals known as "testers" conducts actions akin to those of end users and then documents any problems they run into. Alpha testing's primary goal is to make sure all modules are correctly integrated and performing as planned.


When BankerBox was in the Alpha stage, we reached out to other product and software peers as well as various investment bankers and contacts in high finance because we were developing a solution for banks at the time. Alpha software has all the features but is probably buggy. Alpha testing's main goal is to make a product better by finding problems before it enters beta testing and incorporating any last-minute changes proposed by alpha feedback.


This is a Beta Version

The beta stage—named after the second letter of the Greek alphabet—designates the point at which a software product has entered the second stage of testing and is prepared for usage by customers or clients, sometimes known as "beta testers," outside the company.


This stage is known as the "Early Adopter" phase in some organizations. A beta version typically goes through more testing after it is made available than it did before. It enables businesses to evaluate how well their software will function in actual use cases.


We immediately created some crucial connectivity points between our software and the larger company's systems once SS&C Intralinks bought BankerBox (authentication, cloud servers, etc.). Then, we invited numerous business customers to "beta test" this technology in real-time during an M&A deal once we had demonstrated it to them.


This was a terrific approach for us to get input, build relationships with customers, and identify areas where the program has to change in order to comply with the standards and "bar" for a Release Candidate (RC) or General Availability (GA).


Customers offer insightful input during this type of evaluation regarding whether the product or software satisfies their expectations in terms of functionality, usability, performance, dependability, scalability, and other factors. Before a product is released into production, user feedback is used to enhance the user experience and fix functional problems. The beta adverb can be of two types:-


It's An Open Beta:- Anyone who wants to take part in the beta testing procedure can do so during this phase. As input from numerous users might highlight issues, this can assist developers in rapidly and easily identifying and fixing bugs in their product.


Beta Closed:- A certain target market and particular groups of people serve as the testers during this phase. The target market aids in concentrating the software testing on particular areas of concern and aids in making sure that everything functions for the needs of the target consumers.


Candidate Release

Release candidates (RCs) are pre-release iterations of software that are being prepared for public release (during the RC phase). This is also known as "Controlled Availability." It may have all the features and functionality intended, and it may function as expected, but it is still subject to change—possibly significantly—in response to any feedback. Before releasing the final product, developers may release numerous release candidates to test that the application won't crash under stress, won't dramatically leak memory, etc.


Availability in General

General availability (GA) designates that a good or service is generally (often globally) accessible for purchase through commercial channels. This word often refers to a web application or app that is accessible to all intended users in software engineering. Any upgrades or additional development work done on the product during this stage is intended to improve its functionality and marketability to consumers.


Before moving on to the final stage of the software release life cycle, the production release, we were able to scale BankerBox, now known as "Deal Marketing" under the new brand, to customers all across North America and collect user feedback, usage data, scalability, etc. to validate the product-market fit.


Release of The Production

A software package's stable release is a version that has undergone testing and verification. It is the most recent (and occasionally final) version of a program that is deemed suitable for use by the general public. A "Stable" release is another name for this type of release. Software or web application entering this phase can let the market and larger businesses know how ready your product is. As a manager in the product organization of SS&C Intralinks, I linked these phases to important cross-functional initiatives.


We were able to put together an offering strategy, complete marketing, and sales launches, and the supporting services required across customer service, site reliability engineering, and other departments at the Production Release phase to ensure the product's success. Despite the fact that it might have a few minor faults, most people would consider this to be a full product. LTS (long-term support) and regular stable releases are the two different sorts of stable releases in various circumstances, such as Linux.


Stable Releases On a Regular Basis:- these are the most typical release you'll encounter. When it comes to OS software, they are simple to install and stable, as their name says. This is the kind of release that is typically used when testing software in a real-world setting. Regular stable releases are sometimes referred to as "Major" releases in web applications.


Releases With LTS (long-term support):- are specially created for prolonged use in production environments. The touch time for these releases is greater than that of typical stable releases (the average time between LTS releases is three years). They have therefore undergone considerable testing and are regarded as safer than stable releases.


Software Release Life Cycle History

The term "alpha/beta" test was first used by IBM. People associated with IBM utilized comparable terminology for their software development at least as early as the 1950s (and probably earlier). The "A" test was used to confirm a new product before it was made public. Before allowing the product to be manufactured, a "B" test was performed.


The last test before a product was made generally available was the "C" test. As software became a substantial component of IBM's products, the terms "alpha test" and "beta test" were developed to describe the pre-announcement test and general release readiness, respectively. The word was credited to Martin Belsky, a manager on some of IBM's earlier software initiatives. During the 1960s, IBM abandoned the alpha/beta designation, but by that point, it had drawn considerable attention.


The term "beta test" was not used by IBM to describe client testing. IBM referred to it as a "field test" instead. After then, there were significant public beta tests, with early adopters having paid $49.95 for the "pioneer version" of the WordVision word processor for the IBM PC. According to Stephen Manes' 1984 article, Bruce and James Program Publishers "managed to convince customers to pay for the pleasure of testing the product" in "a superb marketing coup."


Apple's Mac OS X Public Beta operating system was launched in a box in September 2000. Community technology previews (CTPs) for Windows Vista were made available by Microsoft between September 2005 and May 2006. and the public beta for Minecraft ran from 2009 to 2011. An article describing the occurrence of a beta version frequently remaining in use for years and being used as though it were at the production level was published by ZDNet in February 2005.


It was noted that, despite being widely utilized, some services, including Gmail and Google News, had protracted beta periods. Google News exited beta in January 2006, and Google Apps (now known as Google Workspace), which included Gmail, did the same in July 2009.


Since the release of Windows 8, Microsoft has referred to beta software as a preview. "Insider Preview builds" refers to any pre-release build made available through the Windows Insider Program, which was started in 2014. Beta could also refer to a marketing ploy, a time-limited demo, or something more akin to a release candidate.


Final Word

Now, you have all the information related to SRLC. The process often takes a long time and can be tedious too, but it is essential for the quality of your product if executed well. Once you are done with the planning part of SRLC, it is time to get into action! While launching new products isn't easy, this will make sure that your software releases don’t face any major issues in terms of quality and reliability. If you follow these steps while creating your release schedule and plan accordingly.

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