We are in Alpha
We have some good news for Acquia watchers: the Carbon distribution and Spokes network service have entered private alpha testing and are steadily marching towards beta.
We've been conducting internal alpha testing for Carbon and Spokes for a few weeks now. One of the nice things about hiring lots of new employees, particularly non-developers, is that you get a lot internal testers. We've been doing internal alpha tests with our sales, support, professional services, and management team. The user feedback is useful, and we've found lots of things to improve. But this kind of feedback is bit like asking your brother if he thinks his niece, your daughter, is cute.
For the last couple of weeks I've been working on our external alpha testing process. We have identified some registered users on Acquia.com who have given particularly thoughtful feedback in the past and invited a few of them to take a sneak peek at what we're building. We start with a user interview to calibrate who the user is and what background they are coming from. I conduct these background interviews and try to do them via video conference, using a combination of Skype video and Adobe connect.
After the interview, we use these same tools to watch the user actually install Carbon, connect it to Spokes, and set up their site, taking notes all along. We can see exactly what the user is doing, hear exactly what they are saying, and see their expressions when the aren't saying anything!
While I've been doing interviews, the engineering team has been busy with a flurry of scrums, product demos, and a slew of agile techniques to squeeze every bit of effectiveness out of our design and engineering processes. The SVN commit messages are flying fast and furious. After several weeks of a steady stream of user feedback the engineering team is adept at pouncing on user experience issues, frequently fixing issues between two sets of tests.
It's a really exciting time here at Acquia and we can't wait to share what we've been up to with more of you. Stay tuned for forthcoming alpha and beta invitations.