This is an old revision of the document!
Table of Contents
The GWDG offers ShareLaTeX as a beta service until the end of 2018 for all users at https://sharelatex.gwdg.de.
Why a beta phase?
A service and its software are tested and evaluated by the maintainers of the service before it is offered for general useage as part of GWDG's portfolio. There are cases, however, where experience with a service's reliability and quality are only gained by having many users using it in a realistic context.
This is achieved by launching it into a beta phase were it is generally accessible and ready for regular users but it is understood that long-term experience is still missing and therefore service quality might not be on the same level as with services from the regular portfolio. To collect feedback from users and long-term experience with the service a beta phase is required.
How long is the beta phase? What follows it?
GWDG will provide the service until the end of 2018 unless sever reasons prohibit this. Serious reasons could be errors in the software that compromise the security of user data and users themselves or intolerable instability of the service.
Towards the end of the beta phase GWDG will decide whether it will prolong it, make the service a part of its regular portfolio or discontinue the service.
The decision will depend mostly on the acceptance of the service and feedback to it, how much maintenance was required and the relation of its costs to GWDG and its usefulness to our users.
What happens to my data if the service is discontinued? What is the risk?
In the event that the service gets discontinued all users will be notified sufficiently in advance. Help will be provided to export their data from the service.
In case the service has proved to be very useful to a project or institution so that it does not wan to relinquish using it help will be provided to migrate their data to an instance of the service under that project's or institution's own administration.
These different cases have been considered and planned for by GWDG in order to minimize the risk for users of using a service in its beta phase.
What are the differences between a beta phase and normal operations?
Because of the lack of long-term experience with the service no guarantee with regard to the service's reliability can be made when under everyday use. Doubts about its stability however would have resulted in the service not being launched into a beta phase.
Changes to the service maybe required more frequently compared to other services under normal operations and with shorter notice so that interruptions maybe more frequently than they otherwise would. Regardless of its status the goal is to keep operations as close to regular services as possible.