I am looking for input on a commonly-accepted definition of "hot fix" or "hot patch" in the industry. We are continually faced with a very liberal use of this term and would like to be able to reference independent sources so that our organization more narrowly applies the term.
If you are not aware of any "industry-standard" sources please just provide your own experiences.
I have never worked anywhere where either of those phrases were used in any official, defined sense. I have worked in a couple places which used the terms "emergency patch" or "emergency release" to describe situations where a problem/situation was identified in fielded systems which required that we work to get a patch or updated release fielded as quickly as (reasonably) possible. We would have a process in place which helped to "fast track" such fixes by streamlining the paperwork and limiting the number of stakeholders who had to sign off on each stage of the process, and usually by assigning a selected "tiger team" from the necessary departments to ensure that the work was properly prioritized and expdited through each stage of the project.
The company I work for release 'hotfixes' between major releases (which happen twice a year). The company definition for these fixes is that they are bugs fixes or releases of changes to processing required for statutory requirements. The statutory requirements for our product - student records - usually need to be back ported into one or two earlier versions and the various agencies are invariably too slow to provide enough detail for us to include them in the standard releases.
BUT...there's always a 'but', isn't there? Hotfixes are on occasion used to release enhancements where the developers miss the deadline for the version release. This is frowned on (especially by me as I run the Regression Testing programme) but the people who do it have more 'clout' than I do!
Our Hotfix definition specifies that the fix should be described sufficiently so that customers can decide whether they need to apply it or not. When it comes down to it though, most customers apply all hotfixes even though they may not use the area of the product affected. On the other hand we have customers who live in never never land - they've never put on a hotfix and, likely as not, never will.
We are working on tightening up our hotfix procedures (they have been in place about 18 months) and I have also looked in vain for a hotfix definition. I think you will need to define hotfixes to suit your organisation and product(s). You will need something that you know you can stick to - for instance, here we might wish to exclude enhancements but just to block them completely will be hard to enforce.
If you get any good definitions of hotfixes from anywhere else don't forget to post them here.
Use of terms like this that get passed on to other software houses etc. is part of the reason why it's so hard to pin down a QA glossary with definative terms. I've heard this called 'Emergency release', 'Production fix', 'Priority One' and probably a few others.
Maybe rather than a glossary, we need a QA thesaurus? [img]images/icons/smile.gif[/img]
(p.s. ever heard the term 'background task'? That's the task that they don't have budget to do, but informallly they want it done, so you do it when you're doing something else. Note: that means this task takes no time to do... [img]images/icons/confused.gif[/img] )