A point release is a minor or small update to an existing application or software product. It is typically intended to fix bugs, add minor enhancements, or clear smaller issues with the product. On rare occasions, a point release can also include new features to the product. Read on to learn more about point releases and their role in software development.
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What Is a Point Release?
Point releases are developed to make small changes to software, especially when a minor security or functional fix is needed. The frequency of point releases is typically higher than major software updates because of the small, quick solutions that they offer. Point releases can have unusual numbering, as there is no set standard. But in most cases, numbers rise incrementally after the decimal point, such as 1.5 or 12.7.
What Is the Scope of a Point Release?
Generally, most minor changes to software are made through a point release. This includes optimizations and security patches. Any small bugs in the system are also within the scope of a point release. Most types of point releases are interface-compatible with the previous major release of the application or software.
Point Release vs Rolling Release
A rolling release refers to continuous delivery in software deployment or development. Unlike a point release, a rolling release does not require reinstallation over the previous version. As a rolling release does not need to be packaged into a single release, deployment of patches, features, or other enhancements can happen continuously as each new feature becomes available.
Pros of Point Releases in Software Development
The point release model uses an ordered or structured management format for software development and deployment. The primary advantage to point releases is software developers can fix minor issues with their product without needing a completely new release of the software.
Minor updates are also a good way for software developers to get faster feedback from users before changes are incorporated into a major release.
Cons of Point Releases in Software Development
Point releases have concrete and frequent deadlines, which can result in extra stress on software developers to meet those deadlines. The software testing phase can also suffer in efforts to meet point release deadlines.
The introduction of even minor enhancements through point releases requires rigorous testing to make sure new updates will be compatible with the entire ecosystem of the software, including the security protocol and infrastructure. The complexity of these minor changes sometimes leads to new bugs and problems in the software.
What Companies Frequently Offer Point Releases for Their Software?
Most retail software companies use point releases, but point releases are most common with operating systems like Microsoft Windows or Apple iOS. In most cases, users can decide whether their device should ask permission to download and install the point release or if it should automatically complete the setup.
Companies that use a cloud-based model for their applications can make point releases immediately available to users. Conversely, if software needs to be downloaded, the user will need to initiate the installation process.
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