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Re: supporting clients on multiple releases

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  • JeffGrigg
    ... The last option is the answer. But there is no magic silver bullet that will make all the consequences of our own history of bad decisions and mistakes go
    Message 1 of 6 , Mar 19, 2011
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      --- D.André Dhondt <d.andre.dhondt@...> wrote:
      > [...] about 8 releases per year, [...], and each release is
      > applied to only a subset of customers (typically customers
      > only take one or two releases per year). This team has a single
      > trunk, but will apply patches to old versions of the software
      > for clients that aren't running the latest version. This means,
      > for a 2-year phase-out of old versions, the developers can be
      > doing bug fixes or maintenance releases for up to 16 different
      > versions of the product. This is killing them--too much to support.
      >
      > What have you done to reduce the cost of maintenance in a
      > situation like this?
      >
      > - more versions --> more sales [...]
      > - fewer versions --> [...] more time to [test]
      > - fewer bugs --> lower support costs (but what can we do,
      > now, about 2-year-old bugs?)

      The last option is the answer. But there is no magic silver bullet that will make all the consequences of our own history of bad decisions and mistakes go away overnight.

      The main reason customers rightly fear to upgrade is because we do such a sloppy job of writing and testing software that we often regress functionality that they need and rely upon.

      The Extreme Programming solution to this is Test-Driven Development: All functionality that anyone cares about has automated regression tests, to prevent regression. When you have this, customers will no longer have a rational reason to insist that you add functionality to out-of-date software versions. And there won't be much of any bugs to speak of in the old versions, so even if multi-version patching is needed, there won't be much of it.
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