Overall I feel this response was pretty well done, but there are a few things I would like to address.
We had previously mentioned that we were discussing doing beta releases of the Mod Launcher. After several internal discussions, we have decided against doing so.
Our reason for this is quite simple: this entire mod scene centers around a single build of the Mod Launcher that is designed to be fully backwards compatible with the features of every version that came before it. Excluding one case that was unintentional, Lucas has never faltered on his self-described militant stance on backwards compatibility. We agree that this goal is a good thing for mod creators and players alike and fear that beta builds may interfere with it and complicate the modding scene without providing a substantial benefit to the project.
I know backwards compatibility is a big deal, but it's a beta
build we're talking about. When you go looking for a beta build, you're not expecting it to be bug free. That's what the stable releases are for. If you want full compatibility that's bug free, you get a stable build. If you want some new features that aren't in the stable release, you get a beta build, which comes at the cost of polish and, well, stability.
That being said, in my opinion the Mod Launcher is the tool that would benefit the least
from beta builds. You've kind of taken my point to be me asking for solely Mod Launcher betas, and given your reasoning for not doing that.
Other tools would probably benefit much more, and suffer much less. Because if you've got a beta build of a tool to mod the game, it doesn't matter what your Mod Launcher version is. You can't make a P3D file non-backwards compatible. It's a 15 year old format, and that isn't going to change.
Say, for example, a new feature has been added to the P3D editor. However it has been found to be buggy and crash sometimes, and as a result isn't in the stable release yet. This new feature can be used for making mods just fine, and will still run on any version of the Mod Launcher without issues. So, by having a beta build, people can make use of this cool new feature without needing to wait for it to be fully fleshed out yet, which could potentially take months. This allows for much more mod making potential and is beneficial to the community as a whole.
Also think about the Map Builder. It's probably not going to see a stable release for some time, due to the bugs and lack of documentation, but a beta build doesn't need that. A beta build of the Map Builder wouldn't have to wait for fully working error handling, because for a beta build having issues like this is fine. It means we might finally
be actually able to make custom maps and that's what the tool is all about. With a beta build, people can make use of the tool's capabilities and make fun and enjoyable mods with it, without needing to wait another year for it to finally be ready for a stable release.
While tools may be usable without as much polish, we’re not really fans of this ideology in regards to releases.
When we are making something for public release, we believe it is in the best interest of everyone who uses our tools that they look nice and feel nice to use. We wouldn’t release a tool that looks like it was made 10 years ago because we don’t consider that acceptable.
Other modding scenes may have tool developers that place less care into usability but we consider it very important and have this in mind from the outset of all of our proper releases.
As I said in the original post, "I'm not saying 'don't make your tools professional' I'm just saying that you'd be just fine if you released an early version of a tool which looked like crap and didn't have proper error handling."
The whole section on 'professionalism' was aimed mainly at the beta builds idea, because I felt that too much time was being put into making it professional while an unprofessional beta build would be just fine to use. I think my wording on this part was rather awkward, when I said "you'd be just fine if you released an early version of a tool"
I meant releasing that 'early build' as a beta build, not as a stable release. That was bad wording on my half, and I apologise for that.
However I do appreciate the response.
Not sure how to actually end this post, because ending it right there seems kinda awkward, but I don't really have much else to say so uh...