Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Lexis Nexis Software Upgrades Getting Bad Grades

With thanks to John Heckman and his Does It Compute? blog we getting the following heads-up about problems with software updates from Lexis Nexis:
When Time Matters SR3 was released, a major problem was immediately discovered: SR3 broke TM Connect. A “fixed” dll was immediately posted, but anybody who updated via the “approved” method didn’t know that.

Other problems were also noticed: clicking on a hyperlink in the Messenger crashed the Messenger (but not the program). Problems with html display of email that existed in SR2 were not fixed. Various other problems in SR2 were also not fixed. This is to the point where the semi-official CIC listserv is recommending to wait on installation for SR3a (which will no doubt be out shortly). And in fact, as of yesterday afternoon, SR3 seems to have been pulled from the Time Matters download site which, under the circumstances, seems like a smart move.

Nor is this limited to Time Matters. Most people never even noticed that there was a PCLaw release 9.20e, because it was pulled so quickly and rapidly gave way to 9.20f. And the soon-to-be-released PCLaw 9.30a reportedly has massive bugs with credit card processing and links to other products. Normally, during the beta phase, testers are notified of bugs or things that are not ready (that is part of the beta process). In this case, however, LexisNexis apparently was aware of the bugs but didn’t warn anybody.

The major issue here is not which bugs did or didn’t get fixed, but the fact that versions are released without proper Quality Control. This is obviously a function of having to “rush out” a release before it is ready. Given that the new product manager for Time Matters comes from a quality control background the conclusion can only be that development and QC are no longer in charge of developing and releasing the product.

This trend by LexisNexis underscores the old adage that you should never install a new release immediately. But now you have to extend this to “never install a new service pack immediately.” The only other product where this is accepted wisdom is with Microsoft service packs, which are notorious for breaking things.
Click here to see John's original article.


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