1. So when is a alpha done, how do you know when you would go to the next alpha stage. And so on with other versions such as "Beta" and RC.
2.I know a little about RC, but I know that when your just about done with your software about all bugs are gone and you release the first RC, when there are no more bugs is that when people say there in a Gold Release aka "Final" state.
Pre-alpha is not feature complete
Alpha is released to a closed group of tester
Beta is public
RC is feature complete and all the bugs have been fixed, it's only for last testing purposes and to look if you bug fixing didn't create any new bug.
It depends, some developers just use revision numbers as versions when they are in the alpha stage. Most developers go to a new "stage" after they've fixed a small amount of bugs, but it's to you to decide after how many bug fixes you will update. But if you fix a critical bug it is smart to release a update immediately after the fix.
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Here is the system we use for our Windows software:
Alpha: All code that is in development. Doesn't matter if it's 1 line of code or 1 million lines of code - it's Alpha. We don't have "Alpha 1", "Alpha 2", etc, we just increment the build number each time the program is built.
Beta: The program is feature complete and ready for inital testing. At this stage we may add/remove features based on feedback. Beta releases ae generally scheduled on a 5 day release cycle.
Release Candidate: This is the finished product that is passed to the company for user acceptance. Assuming no show-stopping bugs or problems are found, the -signoff release comes shortly after.
For those wondering about the short beta cycle, I should explain that our software is very specilized In broad terms, we make Windows software work nicely together. For example, a company may want their 10 year old sales system to integrate with their shiney new CRM system, we make this happen (well, we try ). The reaosn for the short beta cycles is because the company we are working with will usually have / provide dedicated staff to do the testing and we are on-site with them so bugs are resolved much quicker
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