Feature Logging

Software usage typically follows the 80/20 rule, whereby 20 percent of the functions account for 80 percent of people's usage. Your beta testers are unlikely to methodically try out every feature and check the software thoroughly for you. What they are prepared to do is use the latest development builds and report back anything they find unappealing.

What is very useful (you need to get the tester's explicit consent) is to write the software so when it is a test candidate it methodically logs which features were used. The software can then automatically e-mail you this log file. What you do when comparing tests is find out which functions are being used (and in which order). You might find that even with a couple hundred users trying out the product for two weeks certain features won't be used. The implicit message may be that these modules need to be checked to confirm that they are working. Alternatively, your target market may not need them at all.

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