Friday, January 04, 2008

Builds or Service Packs?

This is a pure opinion piece and a little trip down semantics lane.

I prefer to think of the current version of Revit according to the build, not with service pack numbers. I realize that just knowing which you are using by either method works technically.

So what is a build, if you don't know already? Software is compiled from a version only software engineers can use. Compiled is another techy way to say it is has been prepared for use by your computer.

Until recently all releases of Revit referred to a build number formatted YYYYMMDD_TIME (24hr clock), for example the current Revit Architecture build is 20071109_2345 and also referred to as Service Pack 3. The software is compiled many times, weekly if not even daily or hourly at times for internal testing by various team members. They use this build value to differentiate between versions constantly. It seems only natural to use the same method to speak about the software when it is compiled and released to the public.

While this habit might be a little unfriendly to the lay person it has been the way and consistently so. Now we are also referring to service packs. The root of my complaint is the half-hearted, skin deep application of it. I say this because the only place the service pack reference occurs is on the web site and in documentation available there. After that the build number reappears, even in the release documentation detailing what the build addresses.

So I say (from my bully pulpit) bring back the builds and can the service pack. It is useless, redundant and even confusing to use both.

3 comments:

irusun said...

Steve, I agree that they need to be consistent, and the SP terminology is just confusing not only as you indicate in your post, but also because they're *not* service packs! A service pack is widely understood as a "package" of patches that are *applied" to an installed application. Revit "Service Packs" are a replacement for the entire installation - the existing installation of Revit needs to be un-installed first.

However, I don't think build numbers are the answer either - they're unnecessarily confusing. Wouldn't it just be asier to use software versions like almost every other software package? E.g. iTunes 7.5.1? Since Autodesk has stopped point releases, why don't they just use those, e.g. 2008.1, 2008.2, etc. Couldn't be any simpler!

If I were to offer a guess based on logic (which Autodesk regularly fails to use), my guess is that the SP terminology is a transition to actual service packs like those used in Windows, MS Office, AutoCAD, etc.

Chris said...

The "Service Pack" terminology is particularly confusing, since--if you click the "Product Information" button under "About Revit Architecture 2008...", the "Product service pack:" is listed as 0 even though the download is described as "SP3".

irusun said...

Things have gotten even more confusing in the last day as Autodesk has released a new build but the file is still referred to has SP3. I understand that Autodesk was under a lot of pressure to release a new build, but I don't understand why, at the very least, the file name couldn't refer to it as SP4.