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Wild Apricot Software News February 2012

About Beta Testing

We receive quite a few requests from people who want to help us to beta-test new features. While we really appreciate the offer of help, logistically this is pretty hard to set up:

  • We typically develop many different features at the same time. These features are at different stages of development at any given time - some are complete; some work with minor deficiencies; some only have bits and pieces implemented; still others are in the earliest stages. This makes the process of testing specific features a bit like walking on a minefield: you have to know what to look at, what to ignore, what to avoid. The testers also have to deal with issues like development server downtime - e.g. someone's new code crashed the whole system. We feel that subjecting even the most helpful and patient of our clients to this is not a good idea. 

  • Due to this, we could only start involving our clients in beta-testing when the new version is in the final 'regression testing' stage. The next hurdle is that starting beta-testing at this stage would add at least several weeks to the development schedule - and probably more.

  • There is also a security consideration - access to our development environments is only possible from our offices. We have tried in the past to provide access to beta-testers by IP addresses, but that was time consuming and painful - especially with dynamic IP addresses and varied locations from which people wanted to access the system.

  • Finally, the process of receiving comments, collecting them in a central place and responding to them takes a lot of effort. Our latest attempt used Google Docs - which has great tools for online collaboration in documents - but even that was very time consuming to maintain.

All in all, our previous attempts of beta-testing with clients were not too exciting - lots of effort invested for not that much to show for it. So we will keep experimenting with various approaches to involve our clients. For the next version 4.4 we have decided to try collecting feedback earlier, in a different fashion, as outlined below.

Version 4.4 Status Report

We have created three forum posts for the main features for Version 4.4 which provide a description and a number of screenshots for current work-in-progress and/or design mockups:

I would really appreciate if our clients interested in these changes could take some time to review the posts and share comments on our forums. 

In addition to the main enhancements listed above, version 4.4 will include a number of other things:

  • Another set of new website themes (templates) - 'Business'

    Business Template

  • Date fields

    Date Field


  • Field explanations

    Field Explanation


  • Navigate to next/previous member/contact in the current list when viewing a particular record details

    Next / Previous


  • Ability to force sending scheduled event reminders at any time (right now you can at most schedule them to go the next day)

    Send Event Email Now


  • Route event emails for a given event to a particular person ('event manager') 

    Route event emails

  • Add/remove email recipients manually (vs. always starting with a search)

    Add/Remove Contacts

We Need Your Input for future versions

A couple of complex questions were raised by some of our clients and are being analyzed by our product design team for future updates. At this stage we do not have a clear enough 'big picture' understanding of the issue to make intelligent decisions. I would really love to hear from more people on these:

  1. What workflow emails are really needed and which ones can be eliminated for various transactions, also depending on the payment method (online/manual)

  2. What are the situations and scenarios when Wild Apricot's financial functionality (invoicing/payments) is not needed / should be modified/hidden/deactivated?

What is most appreciated in these cases are detailed descriptions of how your organization works / would ideally like to see Wild Apricot work.

Designer Corner

Are you a web designer involved in customizing Wild Apricot based websites? We would love to hear from you and get connected. Frank, the Fresh Apricot, leads this effort so feel free to get in touch - use the regular support channels, just make sure to mention specifically that you are a designer and would like to connect with Frank.

Some other resources for designers:

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Dmitriy Buterin [Chief Apricot]Dmitriy Buterin [Chief Apricot]

Posted by Dmitriy Buterin [Chief Apricot]

Published Tuesday, 28 February 2012 at 4:02 PM

Comments

  • Bob Hancy

    Bob Hancy said:

    Tuesday, 28 February 2012 at 7:41 PM
    Wild Apricot is AWESOME. I've been a proud customer for nearly a year now. My only wish is to make it easier to have reoccurring events by just entering different dates instead of creating a whole new event (copied from the last one). I have hundreds of events that are the same through the year, and it always takes me hours upon hours of copying and creating new events. New designs are always welcome too, as I like to change up my scenery every now and then to keep things fresh and new. Newsletter? I can do a newsletter through WA? What a great company you are!

    Bob
  • Allan Leonard

    Allan Leonard said:

    Wednesday, 29 February 2012 at 7:49 AM
    These feature updates will be most welcomed! Been waiting 4 years for date fields :-)

    For me, the next major update would be to enable recurring donations and of varying amounts. I suspect this would be a complex operation on your side. But if this could be achieved, Wild Apricot would be an excellent competitor in university alumni/charity/non-profit sector in the UK. For now I can't recommend you guys to these professional contacts of mine because recurring donations will be the first question they ask me.

    Keep up the great work. Best, Allan
  • Chief Apricot

    Chief Apricot said:

    Wednesday, 29 February 2012 at 8:54 AM
    Bob, thank you so much for your kind words!
    We have started to look at recurring events, though people want various things/use them in different ways so we still need to figure out a comprehensive solution - and than build it.

    Alan, recurring donations is something we also starting to look at now.

    Also, FYI - we have added 8 people in the last year to our R&D team and plan to add 10 more this year - so we will be able to deliver more enhancements and address requests faster and faster.
  • Lamees

    Lamees said:

    Wednesday, 29 February 2012 at 3:19 PM
    Dmitry,

    It's very exciting to see all these developments on the software end and on the business end. As a Wild Apricot partner, I'm very proud of Wild Apricot and what you're doing for the nonprofit sector. Keep up the good work.

    Lamees
  • Chief Apricot

    Chief Apricot said:

    Wednesday, 29 February 2012 at 5:01 PM
    Thank you so much Lamees!
  • Nathan

    Nathan said:

    Thursday, 01 March 2012 at 3:56 PM
    I am indescribably thrilled with these additions:

    -Email Templates
    -Date Fields
    -Field Explanations

    The Navigate to next/previous member is also exciting, as it is frustrating to go "Back" and then have to start your search again.

    Thanks for continuing to improve your product. I can't wait for the 4.4 release in May!
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