This year, file your 'radars' early

Filing radars—the popular term for submitting problems to Apple's bug reporting system—is a lot of work. What's more, it almost never results in any official recognition or appreciation, and sometimes it feels like an exercise in frustration and futility. Yet filing radars remains invaluable to the engineers inside Apple, and the sooner you file, the better it is for everyone, especially your shared customers.

I'm not trying to lecture anyone here. I'm not a developer, and I have no idea how hard a job developing apps really is. I'm just a customer who wants the best quality software I can get, and someone who's been fortunate enough to talk to a lot of people and accumulate a lot of advice about how best to get it.

With profound respect to everyone who ships pixels and bits, here's what I've learned: When the first betas of OS X, iOS, or watchOS hit, there are still months to go before release. That means engineers have more time to work on fixes, so there's a higher chance your particular bug will get fixed.

And that doesn't just include crashers. It includes bad interface rendering, glitches in animation, freezes, timeouts, inconsistencies, oversights, and anything and everything that isn't the way it should be. If it's wrong, report it.

As later betas are seeded, and release draws near, Apple is forced to triage. Eventually, there's only time to work on show-stoppers. The chance of a bug reported at that stage getting fixed, no matter how annoying, trends towards zero.

That's also why it's important not to assume someone else will submit the bug. Even if it's obvious—especially if it's obvious—if everyone assumes someone else will file, no one will file.

Also, when many people file a bug, there are better odds one of those submissions will contain a critical piece of information that helps Apple's engineers find and fix it. Even if it doesn't, every duplicate submission—or dupe—can act as a "vote" towards getting a bug fixed.

Everyone has limited time, so if an engineer at Apple needs to fight to get a bug fixed, they need a radar, and the more dupes on it, the better their chances.

Again, I know developers know all this, but I also know everyone is beyond busy, and every year bugs get submitted too late in the cycle for them to get fixed. That's bad for everyone.

So, if you're working on the OS X, iOS, or watchOS betas, and you come across a bug that bugs you, file a radar, and file it soon.

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