Wild Apricot Software News - July 2011

Dmitriy Buterin 27 July 2011 6 comments

Sizzling hot in Toronto as I write this! (They say it's the hottest day on record since recording began!) Thank goodness the air conditioning is running flawlessly!

Well, notwithstanding the heat, July is a pretty busy month here at Wild Apricot.

For starters, we celebrated the official birthday of Wild Apricot software in early July -- commemorating the first public beta release launched in July 2006. (if you scroll all the way down on our release history page you can see a list of functionality we launched at the time (pretty basic in retrospect!). We did get some beta-users sign-ups in July -- and things have been progressing nicely ever since. The "real" commercial version of Wild Apricot -- finally with the ability to pay us! -- was launched in November 2006 and by the end of 2006 we had a handful of paying users. Time flew fast -- and we now count over 4,100 paying clients (plus thousands more using free version -- we stopped counting those a while ago). You can check out our recent blog posts about some long-time clients and our 5th anniversary party.

Second, we also have quite a few birthdays in the office in July -- including my own!

Last but not least -- July is when our management team goes through a mid-year review.

We start by reviewing how our financial situation corresponds to our original budget and predictions (in case you are wondering, we are on a very solid footing -- and most of our forecasts are on target, with the biggest miss in the area of exchange rates -- we did not expect the Canadian dollar to be worth so much more than the US dollar -- 1.05 USD as of today!). 

Then we review the top priorities we have originally defined for 2011 for each major area: Product, Marketing, Support and Administration.

I might be old-fashioned (or biased by my engineering education) but I believe that Product is the number one driver for our ongoing success and growth (closely followed by Support -- we are doing pretty well in that, see my post from the last month). Not surprisingly, product discussions have taken up at least half of our time and attention.

We gave ourselves good marks in these areas:

  • We are following the product roadmap priorities quite well.
  • We are designing and building better user experience than ever before.

However there were a number of things we were not happy about:

  • For the last several releases our development has been dominated by large 'architectural' releases -- which meant that many smaller enhancements on our wishlist kept being pushed back.
  • Even though we have a decent sized product team (product designers/analysts, developers, testers, infrastructure engineers etc.) -- 25 people -- we still feel that this is not enough for us to progress sufficiently fast on our development plans/product roadmap and client requests.

So, we have decided to scale up our development team faster than originally planned -- we decided to add 10 more people to our product team, i.e. grow it by 40% -- within the next 6 months. Everyone is very excited about this -- since it means that we will soon be able to accelerate product enhancements very significantly within 12 months (accounting for the time it takes to find great people and integrate them into our team and processes, have them learn the product functionality and technologies behind -- and start pulling their full weight).

Also, we will be adjusting our product management/prioritization procedures to find a way to push some small/medium size enhancements through faster. The first step in this -- which we have almost completed by now -- was to review several hundred of candidate requests (~450 threads on our wishlist) and pick the best candidates for what we called 'Secondary stream' -- we have selected 70 items for that.

Talking about product, here's a high level roadmap for the next few releases:

  • Version 4.3 (launch ~by end of October 2011)
  • Version 5.0 (~Q1 2012)
    • New CMS - which addresses a ton of wishlist requests! See partial list here.
    • Something else -- still to be decided, depends on our available resource and progress on CMS. Current top candidates include https access throughout the site and newsletter templates.
    • Sneak peek (click to enlarge):
      New Site Structure (click to enlarge)

  • Version 5.1 (~end of Q2)
    • CMS follow-ups: more themes, more gadgets
    • Online store + sales taxes
    • Event redesign - this addresses a large number of requests, see this thread for a summary and links.

  • Version 5.2 (Q4 2012)
    • Our current thinking is to dedicate this to a multitude of small/medium long outstanding requests.

Wishing everyone a nice enjoyable -- and not too hot! -- summer!

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

Posted by Dmitriy Buterin [Chief Apricot]

Published Wednesday, 27 July 2011 at 9:45 AM

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Comments

  • sullo said:

    Wednesday, 27 July 2011 at 10:17 AM

    SSL access should be a priority, if not for October, then definitely for the Q1 release. It's just not optional any longer when you look at the current state of the internet, data breaches and privacy issues. I'm glad to see it on the roadmap finally, but every time I log in with admin credentials I cringe because they could be disclosed and someone could wreak havoc with the site. So, please consider this a big fat vote for the SSL to be done in Q1 at latest!

  • Linda Dessau said:

    Wednesday, 27 July 2011 at 10:21 AM

    Happy birthday Dimitri, and keep up the great work!

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

    Dmitriy Buterin [Chief Apricot] said:

    Thursday, 28 July 2011 at 4:39 AM

    Thanks Linda!

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

    Dmitriy Buterin [Chief Apricot] said:

    Thursday, 28 July 2011 at 4:43 AM

    @sullo - we actually had SSL on our roadmap for a while but we have pursued some other security work we deemed more important. SSL is very important no doubt - but if you look at most breaches, they are not done through SSL but rather through things like XSS, CSRF, SQL injections - so we have been testing and bolting down our servers against these threats.

    In the meantime it is definitely a good idea not to access the site via unsecure networks, e.g public WiFi. If you access it from home or work (and assuming the network is properly configured), SSL is not really a feasible attack scenario.

    So thanks for your patience and be assured that we will tackle SSL as well.

  • Rose McInerney said:

    Sunday, 07 August 2011 at 10:23 AM

    Happy Birthday Dmitry!  I am a fellow Canadian living in Chicago now.  I have been using the Wild Apricot software and applaud the move to increase the size of your development team.  The site provides valuable tips and products for non-profit organizations but I am looking forward to a much needed newsletter platform that provides a seamless way for our group to share news to our members in a more graphically eye-pleasing, versatile and simple format.  I hear this may be coming in 2012.  Any possibility of ramping this up sooner?  Thanks and stay cool.  I consider Chicago to be a sister city to Toronto and it's hot, hot, hot!  Best, Rose

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

    Dmitriy Buterin [Chief Apricot] said:

    Monday, 08 August 2011 at 5:04 AM

    Thanks Rose!

    I guess you are talking about proving predesigned email templates?

    It is possible even now to use free email templates out there on Internet and uae them in Wild Apricot - we plan to do a forum post on this. And yes, we are working to include a set of our own templates - not sure yet on the timeline.

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