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Wild Apricot Software News March 2010

Dmitriy Buterin 03 March 2010 0 comments

For our development team, February was devoted to version 3.4 (including some features which are too big to be finalized in time for 3.4 --- so they will be released in the subsequent version 3.5. More on that later in the post). Development phase for version 3.4 has just been officially closed off, so now we have about a month of final testing ahead of us. The planned launch date for version 3.4 is March 25th --- this might still change if we hit unexpected bumps in our testing, but the probability of that is pretty low (since this is not the first phase of testing but rather the last one - so-called regression testing - when we re-test how everything works together. Individual features testing is already completed.)

In the last two posts I've already outlined what we have coming up in version 3.4, so I will not repeat it here, but you can take a look at our previous two updates. Also, my colleague Giuliano --- aka Useful Apricot --- was jealous of me writing these monthly updates so he started a turf war and launched his own blog: "Behind the Scenes" is dedicated to Wild Apricot product development news (including analysis work, new and notable feature suggestions, etc.). Check out Giuliano's first blog post for a fascinating story about ducks as well as some sneak peeks into functionality being tested for version 3.4.

Version 3.5 includes two major pieces of work which have already started in development back in January - in parallel with version 3.4:

  1. Overhaul of the import process;
  2. Redesign of the financial management functionality.
Stay tuned to see mockups and screenshots from our test versions on the "Behind the Scenes" blog!

In my product manager hat (my biggest and most favorite of all of the hats I wear here at Wild Apricot :-) ), I've spent a lot of time reviewing client surveys. Back on January 19th we sent out our semi-annual client survey, and this time around I had a nice crop of 343 survey responses to read and respond to.

I was very appreciative of many positive things people had to say about Wild Apricot --- and also grateful for all the criticism and suggestions/ideas.This last part is actually the most important reason for doing these surveys --- because many of these ideas then become part of our product Wishlist, then Roadmap, and finally get released. Many of the clients who have contributed their suggestions have seen their ideas come to fruition in our regular product releases over the last few years.

Here's a tiny selection of some of the comments we received, ranging from the good:

  • I think this is a wonderful tool for my union. Every conference we have I bring a laptop and show local union leaders how easy it is to maintain an online presence. We won a national first place communications award in 2009 for our web presence and use of email via Wild Apricot.
  • I think you guys are doing a terrific job ...its so easy to ask for help and get solution from you and your staff ... the system is very user friendly and most of all, you are always implementing new features and functions into the system which is GREAT!!! Keep up the good job!!!
...to the bad:
  • The entire dash board it silly. The site management is a joke. We should have the ability to show what we want, where we want it... I just really don't like this program, and like I said earlier, as soon as I find a new one, I'm dropping wild apricot.
...and the others:
  • Wild Apricot covers 95% of what we need to do. The other 5% either is in development, on the Roadmap or Wishlist, or available in a workaround.
We also find that people have a range of options about the same issue. For example, in answer to the question "How easy is it to create a good-looking website with Wild Apricot?" some were positive:
  • I was AMAZED at how quickly I was able to get the trial website up with some content in order to showcase it to the Board of Directors for approval. One of my co-admistrators has also worked on the layouts/graphics with me with the third administrator acting in an advisory/supervisory capacity. We're very proud of what we've accomplished so far.
  • The most fun I've had doing a website ever! I haven't done too many and I don't speak html, I've just used iWeb and Website Tonight, but yours is by far the easiest.
...others, not so much:
  • Templates are weak
  • Takes a while to get used to. The customization can be tricky sometimes (with menu colors, etc.).
  • The templates were a bit bland and dated looking, though I did not have the time to create a very custom site design. I find the CSS difficult to work with because of so many nested DIVs and long class names, but I have made a number of CSS changes
One thing I found to be different about this last survey --- it did not expand our accumulated wishlist as much as previous surveys did, when we would keep adding new items like crazy. This time, while we did add a good few dozen items, most comments have really just been confirming the items we have already captured --- so it looks like now, after 3.5 years of Wild Apricot in the wild, we can see the end of the road to achieve that holy grail of satisfaction. (Well, first of all, it will take us a several years to process all the suggestions currently tracked in our systems; and, second, I am sure that once we get close, new horizons will open and we will find new ways to keep ourselves busy expanding Wild Apricot in new ways!)

Later on we will be publishing a compilation of metrics of the latest client survey and comparing them with our previous surveys, but for now I wanted to include a chart of answers to the very first question:

We sincerely thank you for your goodwill and trust, and for your recommendations. We will stick to our commitment to keep improving Wild Apricot, to make it more powerful and easier to use --- a never-ending journey!

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

Posted by Dmitriy Buterin [Chief Apricot]

Published Wednesday, 03 March 2010 at 3:01 PM
Sorry, this blog post is closed for further comments.

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