Software: alpha vs. beta vs. MVP


When a new piece of software is being developed, it goes through what is called the software development life cycle. Before a piece of software is fully developed it often goes through several phases where the software is improved and any bugs that are caught. The main phases for this life cycle include the alpha phase, the beta phase, and the MVP. But what do these life cycle phases mean?

Alpha Phase

One of the initial phases of the software development cycle, the alpha phase is the first phase where software is tested. In this phase, software developers test the internal structure, known as white-box testing. Developers take an internal approach to the software and utilize their programming skills to design test cases that test the software’s code. Software is akin to a system of interconnected networks that when programmed and connected properly, will create a certain outcome. Developers will input certain information into a software’s code and id if the software is designed correctly, the code will put out a certain output. With-white-box testing, errors in the code can be found and fixed. White-box testing occurs in three levels: unit testing, integration testing, and regression testing. In unit testing, a code is tested for defaults before it is integrated with other previously tested code. In integration testing the interaction between integrated code is tested. In regression testing, previously tested software is tested again to ensure proper functionality.

Beta Phase

In the beta phase the software is known as betaware. For betaware, the software component is technically completed software, but betaware often contains many unknown bugs that must be accounted for so as to avoid software crashing and data loss. Beta testing is used to help track down these bugs and usability testing is utilized to help mitigate user risk when operating the software. Software developers will have a limited release of the beta version of the software either to the public or a private select group, giving the public a snapshot at the new software. Beta software can also be called a prototype and its limited release to the public is vital to the beta testing phase in order to work out any usability error in finished software.

MVP early-stage development and the final software

MVP stands for “Minimum Viable Product”. In the MVP stage of the software development life cycle, software developers will have successfully developed, and beta tested the software. At this stage the software is ready for its initial release to the public. It has been checked for the bugs that would otherwise cause usability problems for the general public and is ready to be tested by the general public for feedback on the initial software. User feedback ids crucial to the development cycle, as it gives developers an idea about how the public will feel about the initial products and what changes to the product may need to occur going forward., The MVP is a basic version of the product that can eventually be updated given the feedback from public users and subsequent software updates. It is the midpoint between

Maria is a writer at Enki Tech, a Downtown Santa Monica technology company that specializes in the development of high-quality, user friendly software, web platforms and mobile apps.

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