We’ve just released our first major update for SlickEdit 2011. And for some reason, point releases seem to me to be the oddest phase of the software life cycle. It doesn’t seem like that big a deal on the surface. You fix some bugs, polish a few features, and sneak in some customer requests. You run regression tests and sanity checks, then release it into the wild. But a service pack release is not really all that simple.

The primary oddity I see is the scheduling of the release. Hot fixes are easy. A problem comes up, you investigate and fix it, then send out the small update. And for us at SlickEdit, major releases are dictated by our annual release cycle. We *will* have a beta in the early spring and we *will* have the major release out late spring/early summer. Lawns go un-mowed, playoff hockey goes unwatched, and “I’ll be home for dinner” promises are broken in order to meet the schedule. For hot fixes and major releases all of the time pressure is one-way: the sooner the better.

A point release is just harder to time as there are forces pulling at both ends of the schedule. An earlier release means customers don’t have to wait as long for the features we had to let slip initially. There is a shorter wait for resolutions to the small bugs that didn’t warrant a hot fix. An earlier release means that the quality of the trial version is better sooner. And the quicker it goes out the door, the sooner we can focus all attention on feature development for the next major release.

But there are also forces that want to delay the service pack. More time means more polish, fewer bugs, and more special requests that can be accommodated.

This release is a little more poignant for me personally. I primarily work on the Mac version of SlickEdit. And we are committed to providing a native version for 2012, meaning that we’re finally getting rid of our X11-based UI. It’s a welcome (admittedly overdue) change, and I’m enjoying the early progress we’re making. But this release of 16.0.1 represents the last chance we have to make the X11 version work as well as it can.

But now the release notes have been finalized, customers have received the update e-mails, and it’s time to call 16.0.1 done.