Don’t Use Beta/Pre-Release Software Versions for Real-Life Projects

The following might seem obvious to many, but not for newcomers to product creation, whether it’s in the design, development, or any other field.

Don’t use beta versions or pre-releases of any software (framework, library, any tool) on serious projects, especially not real-life client projects!

The latest version does not mean the best version.

I recently started learning Unity, a cross-platform game development engine. I’m running on Unity 19.4.5f1, which is the latest LTS release for Unity. I’ll get back to the LTS part in a moment.

Overview of different Unity version you can install

As you can see in the overview above, Unity 2020 is just around the corner, and it has 1000s of users waiting with anticipation, because Unity 2020 is going to be a major release, with lots of new features. As of the time of this writing, you can play around with two different versions of Unity 2020:

  • Unity 2020.1.0f1
  • Unity 2020.2.0a18 (Alpha)

Notice that none of the Unity 2020 versions have LTS included in the name, and that is the important part, as it stands for Long-Term-Support.

If you build a game with an LTS version of Unity, you can expect that this will be the most stable and most bug-free experience you’ll have using Unity. This is usually what you want, whether you’re a beginner or an experienced user.

When a new LTS version of a software product is released, upgrading from the previous LTS version is usually a breeze. That’s because compatibility between LTS releases is a top priority in software companies — because most end-users use LTS for their real-life projects.

Any non-LTS software version (of any software, not just Unity) does not come with any guarantee of support. Non-LTS releases are experimental pre-releases of the next big version of Unity. Using these pre-releases in production could be unstable and cause unsolvable problems down the road.

If you use a non-LTS version of any software product, you’re essentially guinea pig. There’s nothing wrong with this as long as you know what you sign up for. Big software companies need beta/pre-release testers to help to solve as many bugs as possible before they release the first LTS version on the market.

In summary:

Betas/pre-releases of any software product are meant for testing, and should primarily be used by experienced users, or for users that want a taste for what’s coming. Don’t use them for real-life projects!

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