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What are Release Life Cycle Stages?

Release life cycle is associated with every software product release and can be summed up as its journey from its initial development to its final release. This cycle includes all the phases of development as well as the maturity of the computer software.
Also, the latter part of the cycle includes the update version released for maintenance and improvement and fixation of the bugs that are still present in the software.
Many of the terms associated with the release life cycle of software have been introduced by IBM. First stage in the release life cycle, is the pre-alpha stage where all the activities performed during the software development prior to testing are carried out.
Pre-alpha stage involves carrying out the following activities:
1. Requirements analysis
2. Software design
3. Software development
4. Unit testing

First Stage
– It is possible for many different types of pre-alpha version to exist in a typical open source development.
– There is a type of pre-alpha version called the mile stone version which comes inclusive of the sets of functions which are released as soon as the completion of the functionality.

Alpha or Second Stage
– Next comes the alpha stage which is the first one to have most of the testing processes.
– In this stage, the testing is usually carried out with the aid of the white box testing techniques by the developers.
– In order to supplement this testing further, the black box and gray box testing techniques are employed by some other testing team.
– The stage when the black box testing begins inside the organization is termed as the alpha release. – The software system or application achieved at the end of the alpha testing stage is quite unstable and unreliable since it has the tendency to frequently crash or hang or loose data.
– In some cases the alpha version is made publicly available so that the developers get time to make the product further stable and testing can be carried out properly.
– Proprietary software do not witness such kind of external availability of their alpha version.
– However, this is not the case with the open source software and their alpha versions are usually publicly available. – They are usually made available in the form of raw source code of the software.
– The end of the alpha stage is marked by a ‘feature freeze’ stating that no further feature additions to the software can take place.
– This point also states that all the features have been added to the software system or application.

Beta or Third Phase
Next following phase is the beta testing phase.
– It begins just after the feature freeze.
– When the software system or application has reached this stage it has all sorts of bugs and errors accumulated in it plus it will showcase some of the performance and speed issues.
– The beta stage is focused up on minimizing the impact of those bugs on the end users by performing extensive usability testing.
– When the software at the beta stage is released to public it is termed as beta release and the users who use the beta version are called beta testers.
– Beta testers usually include the people who are more like prospective customers and are ready to test the software usually without charging anything.
– Beta versions prove to be useful for the purpose demonstrations and previews. This stage is also known as:
1. Preview
2. Prototype
3. TP or technical preview
4. Early access etc.
– There is another case called perpetual beta where adding features to a software is never stopped.

Final Stage
– Final stage is the release stage where the software is released to manufacturing (RTM).
– Next phase is the general availability or GA.
– This is the point where all the commercialization activities have been completed and the software is available for sale in the market either by physical media or on web.

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