Open Letter to Rev: Quality Is Job #1

Bill Marriott wjm at wjm.org
Fri Oct 20 04:38:48 EDT 2006


Why is Rev's quality control going to hell?

In my opinion, the 2.7.x series has been a huge step backwards in terms of 
reliability/stability and usability. And after five revisions it's still not 
ready for prime time. Here are some glaring, show-stopper problems that 
still persist in 2.7.4:

- The installer introduced in 2.7 is horrible. It installs desktop shortcuts 
that point nowhere. The file associations are busted. It doesn't perform 
uninstall correctly. The full program directory is present after uninstall, 
junk is still sprinkled through the registry, and Rev doesn't remove its 
entries in Add/Remove programs. While the 2.6.1 installer works perfectly 
under Vista, the 2.7.4 installer locks up and has to be forced-quit. Error 
handling within the installer is a joke. Install/Uninstall should be one 
thing that is bulletproof, but these apparently haven't even been "smoke 
tested." Please tell me ... Aside from copying bits to the Program Files 
folder, what does it do RIGHT?

- Standalones created with 2.7.x are bigger, slower, consume more resources, 
and are highly unpredictable compared to standalones created with 2.6.1. 
Half the time, quitting the standalone leaves the process running in Task 
Manager -- when the exact same stack under 2.6.1 exits cleanly. We've had 
reports of libraries not being included even when explicitly added. And Bill 
V's recent post is not the first report of standalones being built 
incorrectly or bugs returning from the dead.

- More often than I'd like, quitting Rev 2.7.x itself results in an 
application error upon exit. And that is if you're lucky and the process 
isn't simply "hidden" as it is in standalones that don't quit properly. When 
the Windows Error Reporting dialog comes up I click "Send Report" every 
time... do you guys even receive/read those reports? Because I haven't seen 
any decrease in their frequency from one release to the next.

- The IDE is noticeably, painfully slow, and suffers from screen refresh 
problems and on-screen corruption. I've had the 2.7.x IDE (and my work 
product) simply disappear more than once. The sluggishness of the current 
script editor is simply unacceptable (as described previously). It makes me 
long for the days of editing on a ZX81 in SLOW mode. This is not "software 
at the speed of thought" -- it's software at the speed of "musing."

- Geometry manager still is hit-or-miss. It works until it doesn't... then 
you have to rebuild everything from scratch. One prominent developer told me 
he never uses it, because of the peril to his work product. Just when are 
you going to get around to fixing that?

- The XML library under 2.7.x seems to consume much more memory and not 
clean up after itself. Stacks that use XML work fine under 2.6.1, but have 
locked up with 2.7.x.

- The Internet library has resulted in lockups in stacks that have run 
without incident under 2.6.1.

In fact, the 2.7.x series is so awfully bug-ridden, its most welcome new 
feature is the ability to save in "legacy" format.

Yes, Rev, it's really that bad.

I wrote a long time ago that I planned to purchase every update to the 
product. That's because I genuinely want to see Rev succeed (not to mention 
continue to exist/pay the bills). But I have to take it back. No, not this 
time. Not with 2.7.

See, your "subscription" approach to licensing scares me. I just don't think 
you'll be able to release a sufficiently bug-free version within the 12 
months of the update pack duration. It's already been eight months since you 
released the first version of 2.7, and admit it -- it's really still not 
up-to-snuff. If I had purchased the pack in February, when my 2.6.1 updates 
expired. I'd have regretted it. In a traditional update/upgrade model I 
might have the expectation that you'll eventually get 2.7 "right" via free 
bug-fixes and you'd already have my $150/$199. But under this model I'm not 
giving you a single shilling until I see a release that installs correctly, 
builds correctly, keeps up with my typing, and doesn't crash half the time I 
use it.

Bottom line is you haven't EARNED the update pack fee yet.

Some of you will say, "Bill it would be much more productive if you filed 
all this in Bugzilla." Well, I'm all for contributing to the community. But 
it takes time and effort to file a decent bug report. You need to have 
something reproducible, supply sample files, write it up properly, etc. This 
is no trivial task. And I just don't feel that it's worthwhile. I haven't 
seen action on other serious bugs, and I haven't seen the kind of quality 
that suggests even casual inspection on the part of Rev's release team. If 
the steering wheel comes off in your hands, are you going to take the time 
to write about the radio not working? How could you NOT notice that your 
installer puts a generic icon (broken shortcut) on the Windows desktop? How 
could you release a script editor that is slower than molasses? Where is the 
pride in your work product?

Besides, I don't even "own" this version. After every announcement I 
download the latest draft; I test it out by converting some working 2.6.1 
stacks; I see the problems almost immediately; I "uninstall" (that is, I run 
the uninstaller, see it's still screwed up, and manually go through the 
files and the registry to clean up your mess); and go back to 2.6.1. I'm 
afraid 30 days of trial isn't enough time for me to thoroughly document all 
the things that are screwed up in this product. So, when YOU demonstrate 
some good faith -- releasing a reasonably robust product, and committing to 
free bug fixes -- then perhaps I will work as your unpaid Quality Assurance 
Engineer.

Hoping 2.7.5 is the one that gets it right,

Bill 






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