A Better Poker Copilot via Quality Control
We’re currently making a Windows version of Poker Copilot for Mac. The Windows version is code-named Austin. If you want to be an beta tester of Austin, sign up here. And be eligible to win one of five free copies of Austin.
I’ve been using OS X exclusively for a few years, for work and for play. Since I stopped regularly using Windows, Microsoft released Windows 7, 8, and 8.1. Now that we are making Austin, I needed to get familiar with Windows again. I installed Windows 8.1 on a virtual machine and I was lost. I needed help.
To make sure that Austin plays nicely on Windows, for a few weeks I’ve hired Alex, a freelancer who spends most of his time doing things on Windows. He is spending a few hours every day testing Austin, and finding the things that do not feel right on Windows. Keyboard shortcuts, OS integration, the menu system, and window management are all being tested over and over again.
In the process Alex has also found many small Poker Copilot bugs, inconsistencies, and oddities that have escaped my notice. So making a Windows version of Poker Copilot is also making the Mac version better. There are four main areas that are improving:
- The first-time experience is improving significantly. Alex has a fine eye for detail. He records each experience with Poker Copilot that initially didn’t feel right or was confusing. An example: when Poker Copilot prompts you to enable instant hand history in PokerStars, until now, you’ve needed to follow that with a restart of Poker Copilot. The next update will automatically detect changes to the PokerStars hand history folder settings without requiring a restart of Poker Copilot.
- Outright bugs are being located, hunted down, destroyed, and then, importantly, being retested. For example, it turns out that the View menu’s “View Options” screen was not working properly. Change multiple settings at once and only one of them sticks. The next update improves this. We’ve found several minor bugs like this.
- Translations are improving. Alex’s mother tongue is German. So he has been able to evaluate the non-English use of Poker Copilot. He has found bad translations in the German translation of Poker Copilot, and some areas that haven’t yet been translated. This is a workflow problem that I’ll fix. The problem is this: some of the professional translators we’ve used only translated a file of strings, without then having a chance to check their translations running in Poker Copilot. So, for example, the english word “Record” was translated into German as Rekord. As a noun, in some contexts, this is correct. But as a verb, on Poker Copilot’s hand replayer, this is incorrect, and should be Aufzeichnen. I intend to make a better workflow for dealing with translations.
- The general user interface is getting enhanced. I have thought carefully about each part of Poker Copilot’s user interface, and implemented it according to my opinions. Alex also has opinions, and often has been enquiring as to why things are done a particular way. I describe why, as best I remember, I chose to do things as I did. Sometimes Alex isn’t convinced and suggests a different approach. And sometimes he convinces me. For now this has only resulted in minor alterations, such as initial window locations, window titles, and some defaults. I’ve recorded bigger issues and will address them in the future in the next major version of Poker Copilot.
Quality Control is important
I wish I could do all the things that good software development teams do to ensure high quality software. According to Code Complete: A Practical Handbook of Software Construction, Second Edition, good teams execute formal design reviews, code inspections, pair programming, and high-volume beta tests. As a one-person company, I’m limited to less comprehensive techniques. Also, as a one-person development team, I’m limited by lack of motivation to do tedious-yet-useful tasks.
Until now, quality control in Poker Copilot has been a combination of unit testing, my own haphazard system testing, and customer feedback. It is clear to me now that this is not enough. Having a person dedicated – even for a few weeks at a time – to quality control is unbeatable for making a software product top-notch.
PS: Alex can be contacted here, for QA services, WordPress-related work, and Bootstrap themes.