Making ePADD better together: community testing of Version 9.0 Alpha release
Following the first Version 9.0 Alpha release from the ePADD+ project, a volunteer group of community testers assembled to exercise the new features and offer feedback on bugs, potential enhancements, and documentation. In past ePADD releases, users were openly invited to use the most recent release and report back through Github issues. While version 9 alpha was released to the public and open to feedback from all community users, the ePADD+ project sought to elicit direct feedback from a more focused group of testers that worked through the new version over two weeks, so that we could address outstanding issues and enhancements within our grant-funded timeline.
During our first ePADD+ open meeting back in May 2021, we collected a shortlist of volunteer testers for the project. Later in 2021, we circulated an additional call for testers over several relevant listservs. Phase 1 of development extended further than our team anticipated, and our community testers waited patiently while we finished up Version 9 Alpha for release at the end of June 2022.
The ePADD+ project team created a central testing site that hosted the testing protocol as well as links out to a Trello board for issue reporting and a Google forum for testers to discuss approaches and respond to reflections.
Community testing took place between Monday, June 27th - Monday, July 11th 2022. We hosted a virtual launch to offer testers an overview of the protocol, Trello board and Google forum. We subsequently held virtual office hours on the following Thursdays during the testing period.
Reflection and Takeaways
As this was an initial experiment with a more focused group of testers in a defined period of time, we were eager to consider how we could improve our process for future iterations.
Parts of the testing process that users generally appreciated and recommended keeping were:
Holding a launch virtual meeting to review the process and protocol
Hosting virtual office hours for direct questions throughout the process
Having a central issue tracker so users could see what challenges other were encountering - though we may want to consider other options than Trello
Offering a test corpus of emails for users that did not have their own collections
Key takeaways we will incorporate into potential future testing include:
Extending the testing period and ensuring it doesn’t conflict with any country’s holidays
Exploring how we can better incorporate the testing protocol and the User Guide so testers don’t have to refer to both when they have a more general question about using ePADD while working through the protocol
The ePADD+ team is currently prioritizing issues and enhancement requests that came out of testing to consider which are within scope for the project and determine whether any of them warrant a more immediate release to address critical bugs. We are then diving into Phase 2 of the project, which will be exploring the integration of a format conversion tool that will enable ePADD to import and export a broader array of email formats. We will have more to share over the next few months!
Our sincere thanks to all the wonderful ePADD community members that continue to engage in this project and help make it successful.