Tuesday, March 23, 2004

How to be a Borland beta tester

We are currently in the middle of planning, researching and developing the next release of Borland Delphi. As previously indicated here, we plan on releasing the next version of Delphi with both native Win32 and .NET support within the same IDE. This is going to require more testing and feedback. If you feel you can add significant value to the beta testing team, you may consider signing-up. In order to increase your chances of being selected as a Borland beta-tester, there are a few things we are looking for:


  • Experience with the product - Indicate that you have been a user of the product since version XX.

  • Technology experience - Tell us your level of experience in some new emerging technology that is likely to be supported in the product.

  • Able to devote a reasonable slice of time to testing - Tell us how many hours a week you feel you can devote to this task

  • Unique projects and usage - We are always looking for folks that are using Delphi in new and unique ways.

  • Positive excited attitude - Enthusiasm can go a long way to making your application stand out.


On the flip side, here's a few things that are sure ways to get your application placed in the "round-file."

  • Private agendas - I want to make sure this defect/issue/feature gets fixed/implemented.

  • Bragging rights - Since you would be required to sign an NDA, this is silly.

  • Free software - Yes, many beta-testers do receive a free copy of the product. However, that is generally based on the level of participation.

  • Early access - If all you want is early access to the product, then consider becoming a Borland Partner.


The field-test program is not expanded technical support directly from development. While we do try and assist the beta-tester with new product features, questions regarding existing features and problems are better handled in the public forums. You may disagree with the resolution of a defect or issue, that is fine. In fact, if you wish us to reconsider our position, it is best to provide reasonable and well thought out arguments. Also, explaining how this will benefit a large numbers of our customers also helps since that is a key criterion for how things are prioritized. Personal attacks and over-zealousness are sure ways to have your pleas fall on deaf ears. Once a final determination is made, please don't continue harping on the subject, esspecially if it doesn't go your way. Yes, it is true that "squeaky wheels get the grease", however it is also true that "infuriating wheels are replaced."

Non-Disclosure Agreements are not to be taken lightly. Yes, Borland may choose reveal some detail about a beta-test program, but that is purely at the discresion of Borland. A beta-tester is not a spokeperson for Borland. In fact, the standard NDA restricts one from even revealing that they are a beta-tester, both during and following the beta-test period. This protects not only Borland, but you as well. There have been many incidents in the past where a member of the press has contacted a suspected beta-tester and was able to pump them for a lot of information. They use many different tactics like pretending to already know a lot of information about the product just to get confirmation. They have even been known to state that they are a Borland employee! In all cases where a beta-tester revealed sensitive information, they have been removed from the program. Do not assume that a beta-tester you've interacted with in the past is still a beta-tester. If there is a question, please contact FieldTest Administration. Also, if you have signed an NDA as an individual, don't assume that it covers your co-workers. They may have have a lower set of morals and betray your trust. It is ultimately your responsibility if information is leaked a result of a seemingly innocent "water-cooler" conversation. If your company has signed the NDA, then everyone in the company should be bound to that agreement. It is that company's reposibility to make sure only the correct folks have access to the beta-test information and materials. Being careless with NDA'd materials is a sure way to get that NDA revoked. Of course, I am not a laywer, so you should consult qualified legal counsel before signing any agreement.

Finally, Borland beta-test cycles can be fun and exciting. There is a lot of commeradere between the individual testers and with the various R&D, QA and Pubs folks that patrol the beta-test private forums. While we do try and keep it "all business," there have been some cases where some good-natured bantering and ribbing goes on. Esspecially between some of the seasoned beta-testers and Borland folks.

So, if all this sounds like you'd be willing to help out in this, please keep watching for more information on how to apply and where. At the minimum, it'll be an email address to which you can send your information, but ideally, we'll have an on-line form you can use to submit your information.