Saturday, November 04, 2006

Getting there

It's only been a few days since we launched the public beta for Xslimmer on November 1st (at 3am :-) These days have been extremely busy for us, much more so than expected. We had tested the application under the most varied circumstances, a closed beta programme had been conducted with a few friends, and we were pretty confident that everything was completely under control. In our minds we had secretly planned to sit back and count the downloads, just like what the Netscape people did in the good old times. That's a joke, of course. Since Xslimmer was announced, we began receiving a lot of feedback from users, and new bugs that had not been noticed before were uncovered. So, our testing had not been enough. Big thing. As developers we already knew that much, and the beta had been prepared with that purpose in mind. So we set to work at a frantic rate to try and solve everything, nail down all details and polish all corners. Too bad we also have our day jobs. And our families. And relatives that insist on celebrating their birthdays, and friends that have newborn children that have to be visited. No fear, writing software is fun. It's not nearly as bad as it was for the Netscape team: I've actually slept 8 hours in the past 3 days - summing them all up together, that's it.

What this translates to, in practical terms, is the release of several application updates. As of this writing, the latest version available for download is 1.0.6 RC1. More than 2,000 copies of Xslimmer have already being downloaded, and thanks to the people that have chosen to participate in this beta, some important bugs have been uncovered. Fixes have already been applied, and we hope they will never surface again. At this stage, the most important bugs have already been solved:

- Crash after dropping DivX Player 1.0.1.
- Crash when selecting "Preferences" while applications were being analyzed.
- Dropping a huge number of applications caused Xslimmer to fail, displaying an error message stating "Slim operation failed".

Apart from those, many smaller cosmetic bugs have also been fixed, and even some improvements have been implemented.

Bug fixing has been an important task we have been performing these days, but it has not been the most time-consuming one. What has taken most of our time is the testing of applications that users have reported problems with, after they had been slimmed down. We already knew that some applications check themselves upon startup for integrity, security, anti-piracy or other legitimate reasons. That's why we included the option to "blacklist" or protect applications whose binary files should never be handled. With more than 4,000 applications already available as Universal Binaries, and more than 2,000 Xslimmer downloads, the variety of cases we have had to review these days is huge, and we are constantly updating the list of protected applications.

Even though we believe Xslimmer is now stable and reliable, we are aware that some people have experienced problems due to some applications not working properly after its use, and not because of defects in Xslimmer itself. Having said that, we were the ones that chose to create a tool that may not work with a small number of applications, and therefore we feel we have to make every effort to address this situation. As a consequence, we have decided to work on this area extensively, in order to provide the best experience possible. We are still considering some details, but expect to find in future versions an streamlined way to gather results from other users. This will allow our users to check how the applications they want to slim worked for others. We are excited about this feature which, we believe, will provide a lot more confidence!

To conclude, we would like to thank all those that have submitted their feedback to us. We have received praise, bug reports, and many other comments, all of which are useful and encouraging. As our small way to say thank you, we will draw 10 for-life licenses among those that have provided us with any type of feedback.

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