Wild Apricot Software News October 2011

Dmitriy Buterin 26 October 2011 1 comments

Version 4.3

We are getting closer and closer to our Version 4.3 release, and I would like to give you another peek behind the scenes.

The biggest change in functionality for Version 4.3 is a redesign of all the invoicing/payment workflows, which is referred to internally as "PFP" -- or, "Payments from Profile".

It has been in development for a few months, and our testing (aka QA -- Quality Assurance) team has been on it pretty much from the beginning.

This chart shows the testing progress in the last couple of months:


 It shows the daily number of bugs in different stages:

todo - number of open (unresolved) bugs as of that date
test - bugs that were reported as fixed by the development team and are back in the hopper of the QA team as of that date
done - bugs that were confirmed as resolved on that particular date
added - new bugs discovered by QA team on that date

You can see that the red line (todo) has been oscillating around 120 open bugs for a long time -- until it finally moved down. Currently it stays at around 40, so there is still quite a bit of bug squishing to do before our QA team would sign off and we proceed to other testing phases (see my previous post).

Here's another chart that shows current list of open bugs by status:


You can see that the total number of bugs already addressed (~450) dwarfs other bars by far -- so you can appreciate the effort our development team and our QA team put into this.

I am jumping the gun a little bit before the actual release but I would like to express thanks to our senior developer Vassily Kholopov, PFP Development Lead (and Ghostbuster Apricot):

Not only has he been working hard on this functionality and coordinating other developers -- but also stoically dealing with dozens of on-the-fly changes! As it is always the case with software development, best laid out plans and screen mockups never survive the reality -- when they are actually implemented, it is inevitable to find mistakes in the original designs and/or come up with last minute improvements -- which come from our product design team...

Meet the Product Designers

Some time ago I introduced you to our support team (which has grown since!). Today I would like to introduce you to our product design team.

Let's start with this good-looking guy:

Evgeny Zaritovskiy, the "Apricot's Kernel" is at the center of our development as the leader of our product design team. He has been with us almost since the beginning and in fact I have worked with him before and he is not just a great colleague but also a good friend.

Here's the rest of the product design team:


Frank Goertzen -- Fresh Apricot



Ekaterina Tyukina -- Funny Apricot



Anatoliy Tokarskiy -- Serene Apricot

Our creative director Denis Fokin also frequently gets involved in various product features:

Here's a recent example is his work on email templates (currently planned for version 5.0):

Email Template Designs (click to enlarge)

Finally, one of my own hats (and the one I enjoy the most) is a product manager hat so I work closely and often with our product design team.

Online help

In the meantime, our support team has been going through the new version and Evgeny has been educating them on the major upcoming changes related to PFP, and leading them through a review process. As I mentioned before, the goal is two-fold: 1) educate them on the changes in functionality and 2) get them ready to update our online help.

We diligently maintain our online help site (help.wildapricot.com) for every version update (plus ongoing updates in-between versions). We just completed the initial review and planning stage for updating it for Version 4.3, and we have 60 pages to update. If you have seen our help pages, you know that this is a major effort as our typical help pages is quite long, with many screenshots, links to other relevant pages etc. Between the daily routine of support tickets and calls, our support team has their work cut out for them for the next 6 weeks!

Also, on the subject of online help I would like to let you all know about the 4 "Start-up Guides" we have recently completed and published there:

  • Getting Started With Wild Apricot
    This guide is for new users of Wild Apricot – an overview, explaining what it can do and how all the pieces work together.
  • Getting Started With Websites
    This is a quick start-up guide on Wild Apricot’s website module -- how to add, manage, and edit pages, set-up interactive database-driven functional pages, use your own custom domain, and more.
  • Getting Started With Events
    This is a quick start-up guide on Wild Apricot’s events module, explaining how to automate, organize, and set-up registrations for your events.
  • Getting Started With Membership Management
    This guide provides an overview of how Wild Apricot can be used to manage your members and other contacts like newsletter subscribers, donors, event attendees, volunteers, etc.

These are conceptual overviews of major pieces (modules) of Wild Apricot functionality so we would love to hear your feedback! Also, if you have any people at your organizations who are new to Wild Apricot, these guides should help.

Product roadmap

I've had many interesting discussions recently with Evgeny, our lead product designer, about the product roadmap. Version 4.3 is a done deal, the main focus of Version 5.0 has also been been clear for some time -- we have to concentrate on the redesign of our website content management system to complete the work we have started more than a year ago. The biggest open question now is the focus of subsequent Version 5.1

For starters, we are pretty sure that we will have to do a bunch of follow-up items in Website CMS after the Version 5.0 release.

Second, one thing that we placed on our roadmap a while ago -- and it's a very strong candidate for Version 5.1 -- is an online store. It is frequently requested and desired by many of our existing clients, as well as something that frequently comes up from prospective clients. However, it is a major chunk of work -- and taking it into Version 5.1 means not taking easily a dozen other requests from our wishlist forum -- not an easy trade off.

Finally, until very recently, what we wanted to do in Version 5.1 was to overhaul our event registration functionality. We have many, many common enhancement requests, and we have finished the first stage of design for this new functionality, which would address many requests in one fell swoop. Evgeny was in charge of that redesign, and he was very excited about all the planned improvements and new approaches he came up with. I was very surprised when he came over a few weeks ago and suggested that we take another look at our priorities. Long story short, he suggested replacing this big grand redesign of event registration with a large number of other small enhancements which have been sitting in our pipeline/wishlist for a long time. The main outcome is that the efforts of our product design team in the next few months will be concentrated on a few dozen smaller enhancements we have picked with Evgeny from our wishlist/roadmap pipeline. Once each one is fully analyzed and designed, it will go to the development team for estimating. Given that Version 5.0 will probably not launch before some time in Q2 2012, we have plenty of time to figure the scope of Version 5.1 before it has to go into development.

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

Posted by Dmitriy Buterin [Chief Apricot]

Published Wednesday, 26 October 2011 at 5:00 PM

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Comments

  • Lamees Abourahma said:

    Thursday, 27 October 2011 at 10:45 AM
    Hi Dmitry,

    I enjoyed reading your behind-the-scene update. I love your product development strategy. I also respect your strong leadership and entrepreneurship.

    Keep up the the good work!
    Lamees
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