Tuesday, August 7, 2018

What's in a Version Number?

It's been a while since we've last posted. We've been super busy building the best app we can for musicians. This process takes a lot of time, effort, and occasionally some tears. But after all that, we hope what you find something waiting for you in your updates tab that you'll love.

If you've followed OnSong for any length of time, you may have noticed our peculiar version numbers. You may have also have been expecting that nebulous "2.0" release. This post is for you. We hope this will explain a little bit about the development of OnSong and why we've moved to a new version number.

OnSong was released as one of the very first apps for iPad in 2010. At that time, iOS app development was brand new and nobody knew exactly what would happen in the future. So, it seemed pretty logical to start the version of OnSong at 1.0. In no time, I started receiving feedback on this little experiment I had released to the world. It was obvious that it struck a chord with musicians everywhere. There was praise for building such a product, but there was also a ton of feedback. We received bugs, complaints, and a lot of feature requests. Being a solo developer working in his free time, I started storing all of this feedback and quickly iterating on the app to try to please my new user community.

By early 2011, it became obvious that OnSong was growing faster than I could work on that list. My wife had lost her job as an Athletic Trainer after we had our first child and I had run out of free time to keep up with the demands of OnSong users. We tried to integrate OnSong into our day jobs to no avail. By the end of 2011, we realized we needed to make the jump to full-time. This meant leaving our day jobs with a newly-purchased home, private school tuition for a foreign exchange student, and a new child. It was a big leap. Our goal in this was to finish that list of feedback and get to the next big version of OnSong.

What has become apparent for many app development shops is that releasing large upgrades every few years is no longer the way software is made. The app economy operates in a completely different manner. Development is now highly agile and iterative. This allows developers to make changes to their products a little by little and over time. As it turns out, this is better for end-users too. Imagine what would happen if OnSong updated itself from version 1.0 to version 2.0 and caused confusion or an issue on stage right as you were going live. It would be chaos! Instead, we have changed the product a little bit at a time over time so those changes seem less intrusive. It gives our users time to learn new features and put them into practice without being overwhelming. It also means you get all these updates without an expectation for an upgrade fee.

Yet still, we've never felt that we had added enough new features to call it "2.0". Our last version had comically added five nines after the one! Our marketing manager was looking into a sponsorship deal with Sesame Street and the Count for the number 9. We finally needed to come to grips with something... OnSong doesn't make software in large, multi-year versions that our version number dictated. We evolve our software over time and our version number was slowing us down.

Welcome to 2018. Starting today our version number is simply a year with a number following it. We believe this will allow us to more easily form each release and add the core features you desire with each update. This doesn't really change the way we've been producing OnSong all along. In fact, over the past eight years, we've added hundreds of features originally slated for "2.0", all as free updates. We are embracing that method of software development and will continue to work hard to add features all while keeping OnSong stable on the latest iOS updates and devices.

If you have any questions about OnSong, or would like to make improvement or feature suggestions, please contact us at support@onsongapp.com.


Prem Bansal said...

What a lovely and informative post! You guys have done a great job and your hardwork is showing up. Thanks for you efforts.


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