We have decided to make a significant change in how "releases" are done for Rainmeter.
There will no longer be any "beta" releases of the software.
There will no longer be any "final" releases of the software.
There will just be a single "release".
What we have found is that the beta releases weren't really working as "beta" releases. Due to the long interval between final releases, the beta's were just being used as if they were final, and skins were being widely publicly distributed. In fact, it's likely that for a long time, almost nobody who was creating skins was using anything other than the beta versions.
What this meant was that we were in effect locked into "backwards compatibility" with the beta releases as soon as they came out. This was never the intention for the betas, as one of the things they were intended for is to try out some fix or change or improvement, get feedback, and maybe decide to change things, even if it was a change that would "break" any skins created with it.
The end result was that we didn't have a good way to publicly test proposed changes, and also that there was just no reason to bother with doing a "final" release in a timely way. This caused the stupidly long interval between the "final" release of Rainmeter 4.3.1 and now.
So what we want to do is get back to an approach where we can get proposed changes out there, and have people test them out and provide feedback, while not getting trapped into a situation where those changes are being distributed in skins all over the place, and we don't have the appropriate flexibility to react to suggestions and bug reports.
So what now?
Going forward, there will no further "beta" or "final" versions of the software. There will only be "releases", which we will do more often. The goal is to do a release pretty much as soon as we are done with any change, it has been tested by the team and by those in THIS forum, and we are satisfied that it is acceptable to roll out.
Testing still has an important role to play. It's the first rule of software development and henhouses that you don't want the person who wrote the code to be the only person who tests it.
Testing will be done by creating "test" versions of the software, posting a link to the installer and any required description / documentation here, and hoping that the folks on the forums, the most knowledgeable and active of our end-users, will help us out by testing and providing feedback.
NO PUBLIC SKINS SHOULD BE DISTRIBUTED using these test versions. It should be clearly understood that any proposed change might be entirely altered or removed completely. There will be no commitment to "backwards compatibility" with these test versions.
The approach will be:
- Post test versions with any proposed changes in this forum area, to get testing and feedback results.
It's possible that some "no doubter" minor bug fix or tweak might skip this testing stage.
- Do far more regular releases, using the full major.minor.subminor version numbers to allow small changes and bug-fixes to just change the subminor version number. More significant changes will be indicated with the minor version number, and big changes might mean a new major version number.
What we really want is for people on the forums who are actively creating skins, those who have a decent working knowledge of Rainmeter, to stay abreast of this forum area. Everyone is welcome! Download and try out the test versions posted here, and give us feedback on anything that doesn't work right, or suggestions for making something work better. This we believe will be one real advantage with this new approach. It means you guys can get more involved "before the fact", rather than being limited to complaining "after the fact".
Do keep in mind however, that this forum area is not "Bugs & Feature Suggestions". Continue to use that area to report bugs or make suggestions about the "release" versions of the software. This forum is to test and provide feedback on proposed changes that are in development, but not yet released. We will need to be relentless about staying "on topic" with these threads. Also, while we really, really appreciate any feedback that we get here, and will make our best effort to react to all of it, it's not about "voting" on a proposed change. We will collect and consider all ideas, but at the end of the day the development team will decide how to move forward.