To be or not to beta…

The BBC reported today ( https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-54172222 ) that the planned Brexit freight system due to go live by the 1st January 2021 will be a ‘beta’ version. But it’s ok because, as reported by the  BBC the government state that ‘beta’ “is a standard labelling practice for a digital service that is fully operational”.

This is news to me because outside the open source arena, where we always said that everything was ‘always beta’, production, or ‘live’ systems are those which have successfully passed through the various development stages, the last of which being ‘beta’. So, live != beta.

But let’s run with the statement that ‘beta’ is the label assigned to a fully operational digital service. Enter gov.uk – a fully operational digital service. It has a search, and the first hit on ‘beta’ release that when digital services are launched or redesigned in a beta phase “services are continually tested and improved”. It continues “The beta label is displayed on a new service to show it’s being tested – it may not work for everyone” and explains that “Successful beta services eventually become ‘live’ and replace any older services that perform the same task.”

So, by their own claim the Brexit mega car park for trucks scheme will not work for everyone due to it being beta and still under development, rather than it  being live. Will there be a huge ’beta’ sign? After all, you are using the digital services model here for things called beta being fully functional even though your own digital service does not make such a claim.