Dev Relations: “File Release Denied” Shouldn’t Delay BlackBerry App Submissions

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If you’ve submitted your BlackBerry app to App World and it supports many different devices and OS versions, you’ve almost certainly come across “File Release Denied” at one point or another. It’s something I’ve come across many times submitting an app and since it’s BlackBerry Jam time in San Jose, it seems like a great opportunity to bring up a solution to this problem.

BlackBerry App Release denied

First, let’s talk about the problem: when you submit an app across many devices, it’s hard to know whether your app will run on every single device you’ve selected. Many devs will submit the app, wait for feedback, and if it seems like it needs some work on a particular device, they’ll iterate. If RIM’s App World QA team finds something wrong with your app on a particular device, they’ll deny the entire project. Not just the release for that app, but for every single device you’ve selected. Even if the PlayBook version of your app works just fine, it doesn’t matter because the whole project has been denied.

This seems like nuclear bomb approach to QA and there’s a much more dev-friendly solution. By denying every single release, RIM not only stops your product from ever entering the market, but could delay the first release by weeks, possibly months. If another RIM QA employee finds something wrong with another device after you’ve fixed the first error, your entire project gets denied and you now have to wait even longer. Each time there’s a “File Release Denied”, your project has to be resubmitted and there’s a turn around time associated.

Here’s a rhetorical question for RIM: why do you care if it doesn’t work on the 8520 but runs on the 8530. App World and customer reviews should be the quality control. It’s faster, allows devs to get the app in market (which is ultimately everyone’s goal), and allows them to troubleshoot across all devices at once. RIM should realize that yes, there’s a certain degree of quality that you should expect, but as a company, you have to realize that you’ve also created so much device fragmentation that your QA team can’t possibly be expected to test 100,000 apps across 70 or so devices. At some point it simply needs to be crowdsourced.

Possible solutions:

1. Make app world reviews device-specific. My app should be able to get a 5 star review on the 8500 and a 1 star review on the 9900. That allows me to better target devices that need more development work.

2. Deny individual devices. If you’re going to deny a file release, don’t deny it for an entire project, just for a single device that’s giving the issues. This allows everyone to get to market faster.

3. Leverage Beta Zone for all devs. The beta section of BlackBerry App World was dropped back in May but it was a great idea. If RIM made the Beta Zone available to all developers, they could leverage this service to fix bugs across many devices, carriers and OS versions. If there’s one thing I know about BlackBerry users, it’s that they love their community and are willing to help.