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Why are there so many releases of software without any release notes?

Why are there so many releases of software without any release notes?

I have owned my Model S 85D (which is awesome) for about two months, in that time I have received at least 4 downloads.

Only the First 6.2 release came with release notes.

Why aren't there release notes for each release or have I missed them?

It appears I am getting software downloads about every other week, are other seeing the same?

That's even more than Microsoft products, which I have stopped using.

windex | 2 mai 2015

Personally I feel that Tesla should have to suffer what every other IT vendor suffers and supply complete release notes to review changes in before you even install the damn software.

But fast and loose works until someone dies.

J.T. | 2 mai 2015

@ModelSConcord That is a very good question, one that is often asked by those who come to the forum for the first time. As a matter of fact it is asked so frequently (wink, wink) that it has earned a place in the very popular FAQ compiled by yours truly.

Here is the operative section:

FIRMWARE UPDATES

From time to time Tesla will issue over the air (OTA) updates which add features or enhance existing ones. We owners have not been able to discern any predictable pattern as to when particular cars will receive the update. A new version usually takes about a month to reach the entire fleet.

Every new version is closely followed by sub-versions which tweak the update. These are most likely bug fixes deemed necessary from feedback from the first batch of cars to receive the new version. These bug fix updates come with the same release notes so it is not apparent what the subsequent update did. In order to see what version of software you have press the "T" on the 17" screen. The version number is on the bottom left of the screen.

Pleasanton_Ca | 2 mai 2015

@ModelSConcord, definitely check out the "FAQ" (by JT) !!

1BadNerd | 2 mai 2015

Hey, have you checked out:

http://my.teslamotors.com/forum/forums/fremont-approved-queries-faq

Tesla sends release notes with X.Y versions, like 6.0, 6.1, 6.2, but not for sub-versions which are typically "bug fix" versions. Unfortunately, sometimes the bug fixes are significant enough that some of us would like a description. However, we'd probably get a description like you typically get with app updates: "Fixed bugs."

(There may be legal reasons why they would just call these "updates" instead of corrections to "bugs.")

Anthony J. Parisio | 3 mai 2015

Personally I really wish they would let us know what all the little bug fixes are.

AIA304 | 3 mai 2015

Add me in camp of folks who WANT to know what fixes and new features are being provided for a particular update. If it ain't broke don't fix it, is great advice for software updates, unless there is a security fix.

While talking about it, does anyone know if updates are "fat", meaning one single update has all architectures for each car, number of drive units, tech package, etc...

It doesn't seem there are any differences in the models or batt amp capacity of OS releases as far as I can tell.

And the major reason I believe vendors don't tell you what's in a patch/release, is probably because of security holes being plugged, and they don't wish to shed light on released issues.

Grinnin'.VA | 3 mai 2015

@ J.T. | May 2, 2015

In order to see what version of software you have press the "T" on the 17" screen. The version number is on the bottom left of the screen.

And the Release Notes displayed on the 17" screen suffer from a couple of deficiencies:

1. They fail to provide basic information on added features, changed features, etc.

2. In many instances, these release notes contain obsolete, incorrect information. For example, the 6.2.4.188 version of TACC says that it enters its "Holding" state about 30 seconds after stopping behind the car ahead. My 85D enters this state about 5 seconds after stopping.

IMO, Tesla isn't giving serious attention to keeping its customers well informed about the specifics of its software updates. Possibly that's because they are busy doing other things. Possibly they consider timely basic release notes to be optional. In any case, often Tesla learn about the basic changes involved ONLY by experimentation or reading reports from other owners who discover the changes by experimenting with the new versions. I think this fails to achieve Tesla's stated goal of delivering features in a way that delight its customers.

TeslaTap.com | 3 mai 2015

I used to run a software company, and yes, I love getting the details, but we rarely published update details except for new features. There are many reasons for this, but here are a few:

1) Many changes are trivial and often not even documented internally (yes, that not ideal, but it's reality). For example, you change the font from 18.48px to 18.25px to fit an extra digit in some odd field. No one will notice the change, and when you have a list of a hundred of these kinds of changes, it hides the important stuff.

2) Support - No matter what the change is, you'll get opposing opinions on both sides - "You should have left it as is" and "You didn't go far enough". By not saying anything, most of these users really don't care, and you avoid clogging forums and support with unimportant chatter.

3) Bugs make you look dumb. You could argue that's right, but in complex software there are always plenty of bugs - usually trivial stuff that maybe eventually gets fixed. Very few commercial software companies show bugs. You'll see bugs in open-source software projects, which is both cool and necessary for us developers. The most common bug is just spelling or grammar. Again, if you list every spelling and grammar fix, you'd get a very long list of 'fixed' issues.

4) Legal - this is a big one. You really don't want to advertise your mistakes. The larger the installed base, the more likely someone will go off the deep end over something that 99.9% of normal people don't really care. They threaten to sue or do sue, hoping for some payout.

5) Patent liability - This is a murky area, but the less published the better. You don't want to give any ammunition to the patent trolls.

6) As others have pointed out - it's not wise to advertise your security fixes, unless you can update the entire installed base with the fix at the identical time (usually impossible to do).

To other software developers, I'm also fully aware that any good bug system should have categories and weights assigned to each issue. Often you can use this to filter the most important issues, which you may release publicly.

Anyway, Tesla like every other car company is not about to start publishing software bug reports. I expect we'll continue to see minor 'updates', which we know makes improvements to our cars, a very good thing!

Captain_Zap | 3 mai 2015

@Anthony

Some of those bug fixes are for just particular versions of the car, like the RHD, but everyone gets updated to keep it simple for the engineers.

Some of the fixes can be as simple as the internet radio or slacker momentarily dropping out or not buffering at a rate they are happy with.

Release notes can be too detailed. I'm guilty of skimming through them too quickly once in a while. If they say too much, people might start reading them less and less. It is like having too many road signs on a highway. People might stop paying attention to important signs.

Brian H | 3 mai 2015

The search for optimized information flow ...

windex | 4 mai 2015

@TeslaTap.com

Was your software hurling a 2-3 ton mass down the road at 100mph?

Keeping people unaware of bugfixes and why they were made in that case is a hazard.

I live with it but only begrudgingly. I install every update I see though even if it delays me just in case one of those undocumented fixes is "throttle sticks on corrupt MP3 file playback".

J.T. | 4 mai 2015

Whatever happened to "ignorance is bliss?"

Grinnin'.VA | 4 mai 2015

@ TeslaTap.com | May 3, 2015

I used to run a software company, and yes, I love getting the details, but ...

IMO, none of your 7 points addresses the main concern here:

Tesla's current 6.2 release notes:

1. Contain obsolete information.
Example: It says TACC waits about 30 seconds after stopping before entering the "hold" state. In reality 6.2.4.188 waits about 5 seconds!

2. Tesla routinely changes the behavior of the car without including summary descriptions of the changes. Owners are often left to figure out what is different by trial and error with no help from Tesla.

I'd guess that the legal risks of not informing owners about changes in TACC behavior would be worse than including simple summary information about those changes would.

My speculation is that the obvious flaws in release notes is probably caused by distractions, not by any carefully considered decision process. Certainly, they could do much better on this.

garygid | 4 mai 2015

Grinnin, my S85+APwith revision 2.4.188 waits at least 20 seconds behind a stopped car
before dropping into Hold mode (which requires a tap of the accelerator pedal to resume
following the car ahead). So, 30 seconds might be correct?

garygid | 4 mai 2015

From my limited experience with the TACC in revision 2.4.188, it seems
to be the best implementation so far, but I have not yet had the "stopped
traffic far ahead" situation to test its detection and stopping ability in that case.

jao95127 | 4 mai 2015

You can sometimes find details about what changed in these minor releases here:

http://www.teslamotorsclub.com/showwiki.php?title=Model+S+software+firmw...

Grinnin'.VA | 4 mai 2015

@ garygid | May 4, 2015

Grinnin, my S85+APwith revision 2.4.188 waits at least 20 seconds behind a stopped car before dropping into Hold mode (which requires a tap of the accelerator pedal to resume following the car ahead). So, 30 seconds might be correct?

I repeat: My 85D with 6.2.4.188 waits about 5 seconds after stopping before going into "hold" mode. This is a large discrepancy.

Have you actually timed yours? I'll try to time mine with my wrist watch later today.

Haggy | 4 mai 2015

A bug fix doesn't necessarily mean that they corrected something that would have made your car crash into something. It might be that a particular song title was truncated on the display, so they corrected it. There might be plenty of little things like this that really wouldn't make sense in release notes. When new functionality is added, they generally mention it, but not always. It would be nice if they mentioned the little changes too. But I don't think we can expect them to ever start listing a little bug fix.

rayalden17 | 4 mai 2015

Do software or firmware updates ever result in an amendment to the owner's manual?
For reasons of vision, I need to read material on my tablet rather than on the Tesla screen, and I often refer to the manual when something puzzles me. But as far as I'm aware, nothing in the manual has been changed since I got the car, almost a year ago.

TeslaTap.com | 4 mai 2015

Manuals are updated usually with major software releases. The last one is dated March 31, 2015 (USA). Go to MyTesla and scroll down to Documents, and then Model S Guides.