Monday, March 17, 2014

Why you should wait before telling people about a new beta version of your app

[Photo credit:]

So, you've just submitted an updated beta version of your app to the store and are anxious to get it on the devices of your beta testers so they can begin using it.

You get your email from the store saying that the app "will be available within 2 hours in the Windows Phone Store to the people you named as reviewers."

You may be tempted to tell your reviewers about the update straight away but here's why you should wait:

They may end up mistakenly downloading the wrong version!

Well not necessarily the wrong version but the old/existing version in the belief that it's the new one.

During this 2 hour time window the new XAP file is copied to all the different servers that may be used to download/install from. However, there is no synchronisation across the servers during this time and multiple servers may be queried when checking for and downloading updates.

This means you may query one server to see if there is a new update available and then a second one to handle the download latest request. There is no way you can influence this. If the first server has the latest xap but the second server doesn't then problems can occur.

The following is perfectly possible. I've seen it several times and others have reported to me on Twitter that they've seen the same thing too.
  • Submit an updated beta.
  • Tell reviewers to wait 2 hours and then update.
  • Reviewer doesn't wait 2 hours but goes to the store straight away and sees the update.
  • Selects the "update" button and a file is downloaded and installed.
  • Reviewer opens the app and then complains that they can't see any of the changes or fixes.
  • Ask reviewer to check the version number in the app. It's the old one.
This happens because the details of the new XAP file haven't been copied to all servers used when the update was attempted.

The best action to take is to wait 2 hours and then tell your reviewers about the update. Or to be even more secure wait until the store app on their phone tells them there's an update available.

I've raised this to the store team but have had no response (in over a week). I thought this information was worth sharing now, rather than wait indefinitely for a response.
Hopefully there are checks in place to stop the same thing happening with non-beta apps.


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