Releasing the beast

Getting AstroPlanner V2.0 to the point that it can be released still seems like an insurmountable task. What is still to be done?

  1. User Manual. According to my to-do list I have about 7 man-days of writing left, but that’s the best case scenario. I keep finding things that haven’t been documented yet. Not to mention editing the thing, which I suspect might not happen for the V2.0 release. Also, the vendors of the word processor I use have been promising a way of creating an index, but it hasn’t happened yet. So the first cut of the manual won’t have an index. Not too important since PDF documents are easily searched.
  2. Bug Fixes. There are still plenty of bugs, but at this stage I’m only going to (attempt to) fix the show-stopper bugs (probably a few man-days). The others will have to wait for V2.0.1 and beyond.
  3. CD-ROM/DVD-ROM. The new CD-ROM has not been designed yet. I’m suspecting that the application installers for both platforms, plus the usual collection of catalogues might not fit on a CD-ROM, and I might have to use DVD-ROMs in the future. No big deal, and it does give me more space to add some extra goodies later (perhaps some other big catalogues, help videos, images, etc.). Also the CD/DVD-ROM labels will need redesigning, etc. Let’s say a man-day or so.
  4. Web Site. The new web site is currently non-existent, and I’m not at all familiar with my new web creation tool (DreamWeaver). I have some very juicy plans for the future, but for the V2 release, I’m just looking at reproducing the current site with updated information. Maybe a man-week.
  5. Packaging. I had hoped to do some fancy packaging for the V2 CD/DVD-ROM, but that might not happen immediately. I also need to create a small printed installation guide, since the manual will be embedded in the application. Let’s say, a man-day.
  6. Mac OS X Lion issues. In my previous post I discussed the nasty problem I have with Apple releasing Lion before I can release V2. I have a plan to “fix” the problem, but it’s not going to be particularly pretty. Three man-days, at least.
  7. Windows issues. I still haven’t managed to sort out the application and document icon problems in Windows. This isn’t a shop-topper, but it needs to be attended to. Anyone’s guess: a man-hour, a man-day, a man-week? If I do tackle it for V2.0, I will set aside, say, a man-day. If it isn’t resolved by then, I won’t bother continuing. I was also going to “personalise” the installer interface, but I suspect that won’t happen.

What this means is at least a week or two. Or three. At best. I know I have been really bad at guestimating the release date, but the amount of work has been overwhelming. I apologise to those who have literally been waiting for years for this release.

Some stuff will not appear in V2.0. These items are not critical and will appear in V2.1 within a few months (yeh, riiiight):

  1. AAVSO support. This was present in V1.x, but AAVSO did a major reshuffling of the web site and virtually nothing still works. The AAVSO site is still in a state of transition, but I think it will be stable enough to work on re-introducing AAVSO-related features in V2.1. They will be somewhat different from those in V1.x. This will only affect a few users.
  2. Scripting manual. There’s currently no V2 scripting manual, and the scripting framework has changed a lot. V1 scripts don’t work without at least some minor tweaking. V2 has a new feature that displays the entire scripting framework in a hierarchical fashion, which is of some help to scripters. This is also something that will only affect a very few users, and always available to help.
  3. Scripting framework. The scripting framework needs to be documented. This is not difficult, just time consuming and finicky. It will also help with (2), since I can generate a lot of the scripting manual automatically.
  4. Untested features. There are some features that are largely untested and/or are unstable. These are not features that you are likely to use much. e.g. scripted telescope drivers, some built-in telescope drivers, etc.

Once V2.1 is out of the door, I can start thinking about what’s going to go into V3. I have a long list of candidates. Closer to the time, I will probably conduct a survey to find out what will be most popular.

Now back to manual writing and bug fixing…