NDA vs Blogs and Forums

While trying to learn something new, the Internet proves a valuable resource. A quick Google usually reveals enough blog entries with other people having similar problems that you can find what you’re after.
The trouble with the Beta SDK’s for the iPhone at the moment is that while they are in development themselves, all users of the SDK are bound by a Non Disclosure Agreement. Revealing the technical details for the SDK is not allowed and so open discussions on public forums aren’t authorised. Sure, it seems to be happening in small amounts, but nothing compared to normal internet traffic for something so new and current.

On the one hand I find it frustrating that I can’t share my successes and ask for assistance when I’m stuck, but then again I can see the other side of the coin too. I was very much involved in the beta testing of Microsoft’s Team Foundation Server a few years back. I was working for Fujitsu-Siemens and my boss at the time was very keen to implement this even though it was ‘bleeding-edge’.
During all of the beta releases, it was often required to start again with a fresh installation because upgrading never worked as things were changed between releases. Then Beta 2 came along and suddenly things started to settle down. People were starting to build 3rd party applications with it and the community was buzzing with promise. Trouble was that the next release went and totally changed the database structure (first time I was exposed to SQL Server 2005’s cubes) and Beta 2 applications ceased to work.
Whilst we hadn’t built anything sufficiently large we continued testing the newest code and continued to provide feedback to Microsoft, when asked.
Meanwhile the community stuck with Beta 2, not wanting to lose all their work, despite the fact that it was going to get ruined when the beta ran out and the final Release Candidate was shipped.
So in a way, Apple‘s NDA might prevent the Search Engines being full of old code when they finally get around to releasing the firm version in June/July. And to avoid confusing new developers waiting for the final version, that’s probably not a bad thing.

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