Our product design team has already moved on from Version 4.3, our developers have stopped all the work on new features and changes quite a while ago and are only fixing bugs. Thus, our QA team has the lead on Version 4.3.
Our current estimate for launch date is still December 12th, however QA guys are not yet quite sure they will be able to greenlight the launch by that date - pointing me to some complex-looking tables like this:
I am not quite sure what it should convince me of :) ...but it looks pretty impressive. We should know in about a week if we can stick to the December 12th launch date, or if we would need to delay it. We still have some leeway -- we figure that if we can eradicate all the bugs, we can launch by Dec 19th. Otherwise we would not want to launch too close to Christmas/New Year's and would postpone the 4.3 release to early January altogether.
Sorry about the delays -- but we would rather launch a bit later if this means more bugs are caught and exterminated by our team rather than causing grief to our clients!
Nevertheless, even though the actual upgrade date is still in flux, the actual contents of the new version have been fully finalized a while ago, check out this page for full details:
Help page: Getting ready for new version 4.3
We have also sent out an email to all administrators to inform about the upcoming upgrade, and have been answering questions on this Discussion forum thread: Getting ready for version 4.3
OK, enough already! What's next after version 4.3?
Our original plan was to launch Version 5.0 next, with the main focus being a totally redesigned website management system (aka CMS). However, we decided to change our plans. Let me give you some background:
- Our internal target is to upgrade Wild Apricot (release new versions) about 3 times year, i.e. ~every 4 months
- Version 4.3 took much longer because of all the changes in the payments processing/invoicing code -- from May till December -- 7 months
- We also started development of Version 5.0 in parallel with Version 4.3 (which we do not normally do - usually we do development on the next version only)
- We have now taken stock of our progress on CMS redesign and roughly estimated how much work still remains. And unfortunately, the answer was that for some critical parts of the system -- which we can not speed up by throwing more developers on -- we will need at least 7 months, probably even more (including testing)
Due to all of this we have decided to release another version -- #4.4 -- around end of April/early May. Now that we have decided on the timeline and allocated our development team between 4.4 and 5.0, we have a thousand dollar question -- which features to include in 4.4?
Some of them we have been promising for way too long so they are pretty much set in stone:
- Email templates
- https encryption
We do have more development resources 'bandwidth' available, so right now I feel like a kid in candy store -- so many other things we want to do from the wishlist! We have now narrowed down the list of candidates for Version 4.4 to 37 main items (including the two above). Quite a few of them are now being estimated by the development team, some others are still being finalized by our product design team. For every item we look at its 'price' (estimated development work' and priority level (which is defined by wishlist forum ratings and comments and interactions in technical support). Here are some of the top candidates:
- Restricted access to documents and images (right now web pages can be restricted but all the files are accessible if a direct link to file is known)
- Field explanation for online forms (so that you can provide hints and comments to people filling out your membership application, event registration and other forms)
- Replacing the existing concept of archiving contacts first, then deleting (you would not believe how many questions we get in support about it!) with a concept of deleting contacts right away (but put them into the trash can first)
- Batch-deleting contacts (If you have any list of contacts, have a Delete button that can put all the contacts in the current list into trash can)
- Special 'shadow' copy of member directory accessible and indexed by search engines (main directory is generated on the fly and search engine crawlers can't access it)
- A concept of per-event responsible person who would receive all emails for a particular event
- Export of event registrations across all events (right now this can be done in each event only)
- Sales taxes (big one, I doubt it would fit into 4.4, so most likely would have to go into Version 5.0)
- Tracking of clicks on unsubscribe links in emails
- Sending automatic event reminders right away (right now these can only go out on schedule and have to be set up at least 1 day ion advance)
- Option to automatically generate renewal invoices (Right now system can only send renewal reminder emails and invoices are only generated when a particular person goes online and starts the renewal process)
- One more design theme (this one is a given, already in development)
There is also a number of candidates for internal-use only features, such as some improvements in support and billing administration, plus a number of security-related enhancements.
Anyway, the final list of features to go into Version 4.4 will take a few more weeks to finalize. We should have a pretty good idea by our next newsletter, so I promise more details and screenshots for the features scheduled for Version 4.4!