Just about every beta I’ve participated in has been set up in a way that feedback is only sent back to the developers. Vesper is my first time on a beta where a collaboration tool was set up for testers, in this case Glassboard. For those unfamiliar with Glassboard, it’s a sort of social network that allows you to create private boards for groups of people to communicate. Its lightweight structure is well-suited for private communications amongst a small group, like during a beta. Brent Simmons explained to me that this is how he has always done betas. Whether it be email, Glassboard, or some other tool, Brent has always set up a way for testers to discuss the project with one another.
Not long after the first beta release, the Vesper Glassboard began to fill with feature requests, design feedback, and general comments. It was interesting to watch all the discussion taking place around design, features, and interactions, but my specialty has always been breaking things, so that’s what I did. This took an interesting turn one night after I emailed a list of about 20 bugs I had found in my latest run through the app. Dave responded with “How about I save myself the time and just give you Lighthouse access?”
This didn’t just make things easier on him, but easier for me too. Glassboard is a great collaboration tool, but by no stretch of the imagination was it set up to be a bug tracking tool. With direct access to Lighthouse I could open tickets for bugs as I found them, rather than trying to compile a large list of items to submit at once. It also let me better detail my tickets, as well as attach photos and videos for bugs that were more difficult to explain. Lighthouse access also meant that I could make sure everything reported by testers on Glassboard got tracked. Not to mention how much easier it made it to follow up on bugs once they were fixed.
The difference between a bad app and a good app is apparent to most. The difference between a good app and a great app is much more subtle. It’s the small details that 99% of users wouldn’t consciously notice were missing if they weren’t there. It’s the one or two out-of-place pixels that will cause a slight distraction to a user’s mind, even if they never realize it. I love helping with that refinement. Producing a seamless app that allows people to forget that what they’re actually looking at is software executing thousands and thousands of lines of code in order to display a sequence of colors onto millions of pixels that make up a screen. Creating that suspension of disbelief where users interact with an app as if it’s actually made up of physical components. Q Branch wants to ship the absolute best apps that they can, and I’m thrilled and honored to be a part of that.