Photoshop CS3 developed using agile techniques

For those unfamiliar, Adobe Photoshop is the de-facto standard in image editors, and the CS3 release is version 10 of this product, which has needed to be re-tooled to provide support for a whole new processor architecture (a universal binary for Mac OSX).

For years the Adobe Photoshop team has been trying to get away from the traditional death march to a more agile development style. For its CS3 release, it made the jump, with the help of VP Dave Story. The result? More weekends off, and a third fewer bugs to fix. Mary Branscombe quizzed co-architect Russell Williams on how they did it.

The intriguing portion of the article for me is how they handle deployments and iterative drops for “demos” (emphasis mine):

Did it change the way you put out betas?

An automatic process builds the program every night and runs a set of tests before posting the build on our internal servers for QE to test. We could take almost any of those daily builds and use them for demos.

The public beta was basically just “whatever build is ready on date X”. There were only a couple of “we really gotta fix this before we send out the public beta” bugs. With past versions, we couldn’t have done a public beta at all that far ahead of release - there would have been far too many bugs.

We weren’t swamped with a pile of bugs from the hundreds of thousands of people who downloaded - it really was in the good shape we thought it was. With several hundred thousand downloads, there were fewer than 25 new bugs found.

Definitely an interesting read!