March Update: It's Time for the Summit

Dmitriy Buterin 31 March 2016 10 comments

March UpdateNext Monday is the start of our Membership Growth Online Summit. It's going to be the biggest webinar event we've ever held. I know we’ve been talking about this event for a while, but I really think it’s a fantastic opportunity for any organization looking to grow their membership.

Along with a mobile release and some new email themes, I'd also like to bring attention to the last item in this update. O
ur Chief Architect, Igor Subbotin, shares an update about a big internal project that we’ve been working on for the last two years, called Solution Splitting. Scroll down to find out more.

Membership Growth Online Summit

SummitAs I mentioned, the Membership Growth Online Summit starts next week! Over 3,000 Nonprofit Professionals have signed up and there's still space left!

From Monday, April 4th to Friday April 5th, there will be a FREE webinar everyday! See the full agenda here.

Attend and learn everything on how to:
  • Set up an Online Marketing Funnel to make the best use of email marketing
  • Build effective Google and Facebook Ads
  • Use Social Media to grow your community
  • Engage Millennials
  • Build an Effective Membership Model
  • and more!
summit_banner

SIGN UP

Or, if you've already signed up, invite a friend!

We’re Ramping Up Our Blog

BlogThis past year we had 851,261 visitors to our Blog & Knowledge Articles.

We think that's amazing and as part of our promise to bring you more educational value, we're going to ramp up our blog contributions to deliver more relevant content on topics you care about. 

Terry Ibele, our Content Manager is going to tackle this. He’s already collected hundreds of your questions from surveys, webinars, and emails, and he’s going to use them as fuel to revitalize our blog.

So, if you have a specific topic that you’d like to see Terry write about (Volunteers, Board Turnover, Events, etc.), email him at tibele@wildapricot.com.

Mobile App Update

Mobilemobile updateFor those of you who use our mobile app (available for Android or iOS), you'll notice some changes next week.

Our app is great for checking in guests at your events, or searching through your contact database.

The latest version of our app features a complete redesign and improved appearance on tablets. We've also included a number of user-requested features including:

  • Multi-session event details on event lists and within event details
  • The ability to delete an existing event registration
  • An improved workflow for adding event registrations
  • Guest registration details within the main registration details
  • Event description appearing when you tap the event title from the event details
As with all our software, we continue to review suggestions for future enhancements on our WishList forum. Some of the new features in our app update came right from your suggestions. So, if you have an idea, please contribute and vote on our WishList forum.

New Email Themes

Email Templates
Late last year we analyzed our database to get a better idea of the types of organizations that use Wild Apricot so that we could start creating more personalized experiences for the more common ones.

As a small step to accomplishing this, we just launched some new email themes that will delight a few different types of organizations.

When you log into your Admin View, then navigate to Emails > Email Templates, you'll notice a number of brand new themes:

  • 2 Motorcycle themes: Black lightning, Blue cruiser
  • 1 Tennis theme: Baseline
  • 1 theme for Lawyers: Boardroom
  • 1 Patriotic theme: Red white and blue
email themes
Coming up we also have planned:
  • 2 Golf themes: Golf green, Clubhouse
  • Another theme for Lawyers: Cityscape
Be on the lookout for more organization-specific themes!

Solution Splitting

Igor SSolution SplittingThis update is from our Chief Architect, Igor Subbotin

We want Wild Apricot to be the best tool for you to manage your membership online.That’s why we’re continuously improving its functionality and launching new features.

Every month we spend over $250,000 and have 57 people working on software development. Since inception, we’ve launched over 60 releases and our system receives thousands of requests per second (that’s a billion hits a month!). Plus, we have hundreds of servers that run day and night to keep Wild Apricot live.

This June Wild Apricot turns 10 years old, and you can imagine the amount of coding that we’ve built over that time. It’s MASSIVE! It’s over 1,000,000 lines long!

Unfortunately with MASSIVE amounts of code, our developers have run into a very typical software problem. They’ve built up a lot of technical debt (a wonderful metaphor developed by a famous computer programmer Ward Cunningham). In other words, with each new feature we launch, we have to keep writing more lines of code on top of our existing code, creating one gigantic beast of code. With a lot of technical debt, a number of issues have arisen for us including:

  • Slower progress delivering on your feature requests
  • Delayed release dates which stalls better product performance
  • An increase in bugs with our platform, meaning you contact our support team more often
  • Performance issues which may cause you downtime
  • Plus a number of other issues for our developers that slow down their progress

All of this deteriorates your Wild Apricot experience, which is exactly the opposite of what we want. We can improve your experience by cleaning up our code and that’s what Solution Splitting is all about. 

Solution Splitting will “split” up our code into smaller, more manageable, “cleaner” segments instead of the one gigantic beast it’s grown to become.

Now, it’s worth noting that you can still have a great product, but also have technical debt. However, improving and maintaining the product is slow, costly, and painful. 

Two years ago it became obvious to us fix our technical debt, in order to keep giving you the best experience you can have with our software.

Since then, we’ve had up to 30 developers working on this project, which I was a technical lead on. It’s been tough balancing this initiative with launching new features, which is why our product development has been slow for a while. 

But now I’m glad to tell you that Solution Splitting is nearly done! Soon, our developers will be able to devote more time to launching the features that you request in our UserVoice WishList forums.

Of course, we are still taking caution to minimize the risks of launching Solution Splitting, so we decided to split the release into two phases (with the possibility to rollback changes quickly):

  • Stage 1 - The main application will be gradually rolled out in small account bunches with the 5.7.5 release
    • Free accounts first
    • Paid accounts after
  • Stage 2 - All other services will be gradually rolled out (Import, Export, Payments, Emailing, Public API etc.) with the 5.8 release

Not to let you down, but after the release of Solution Splitting you won't see any immediate changes to our platform. Everything about Solution Splitting is internal, but it will pave the way to improvements, benefits and large scale projects in the near future such as:

  • Faster feature development speed, meaning we can work on more of your requests
  • Fewer bugs and a more robust system, so you won’t need to be calling our support team
  • More frequent, faster and smoother releases to improve performance of our platform
  • Faster reaction on user feedback to product changes to give you a better experience
  • Improvements to our main features (membership, events, payments, CMS, emailing, mobile etc.)

We believe that Solution Splitting will lead us to a better client experience and so we are very excited to be nearly done this project!


That's all for this month's update.

Here's to your success!

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

Posted by Dmitriy Buterin [Chief Apricot]

Published Thursday, 31 March 2016 at 10:18 AM

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Comments

  • Vera Externest said:

    Thursday, 31 March 2016 at 8:30 PM
    I really appreciate the Wild Apricot team's honesty and transparency, forward thinking and innovation and efforts to continuously look for better solutions. I have noticed the increase in bugs and slower performance over the last couple of years, thinking to myself that with more and more functionality comes the downside of unwieldiness.

    I have great admiration for you as a team and for the way you run your business and wish you continued success. Great to see a picture of the team!
  • Judy Ewart said:

    Friday, 01 April 2016 at 12:17 AM
    I am glad to hear of the redesign of the software because there have been too many bugs being delivered as new and changed functionality is released. But I am very disappointed to read about the direction of the email enhancement - templates specific to types of organizations. I would have much preferred to see the more generic templates - particularly the 2 and 3 column newsletter styles - reworked to remove the bugs and crippled features that make them extraordinarily difficult to deliver a polished looking product to our membership. There is much that is very good about Wild Apricot but sadly the email templates is not among them.
  • Terry Ibele [Learning Apricot]

    Terry Ibele [Learning Apricot] said:

    Friday, 01 April 2016 at 9:28 AM
    Hi Judy,

    Thanks for writing and sharing your thoughts. We definitely take all feedback we get into consideration for future product changes/launches.

    I'd encourage you to go on over to our WishList Forum and add your support for more generic templates: https://forums.wildapricot.com/forums/308932-wishlist
  • Terry Ibele [Learning Apricot]

    Terry Ibele [Learning Apricot] said:

    Friday, 01 April 2016 at 9:29 AM
    Hi Vera,

    Thanks for your thoughts! We definitely want to keep making Wild Apricot the best membership management software for you.
  • Veronwallace said:

    Sunday, 17 April 2016 at 7:22 PM
    Hi would like to know what the best way to build my network?
  • Terry Ibele [Learning Apricot]

    Terry Ibele [Learning Apricot] said:

    Monday, 18 April 2016 at 10:48 AM
    Hi Veronwallace,

    In what way are you looking to build your network?
  • Lamees said:

    Tuesday, 31 May 2016 at 4:41 PM
    As a former developer, I have a great appreciation of Wild Apricot's software development methodology exactly for making decision like this Solution Splitting. You're investing huge resources on a project that customers might not see tangible results from to provide intangible results they will experience in the future.
  • Terry Ibele [Learning Apricot]

    Terry Ibele [Learning Apricot] said:

    Tuesday, 31 May 2016 at 5:07 PM
    Hi Lamees,

    Thanks for your encouraging words!
  • Tom Gibson said:

    Wednesday, 01 June 2016 at 8:55 AM
    "Solution Splitting" sounds to me like refactoring. How do they relate? (I'm a retired software person).
  • Terry Ibele [Learning Apricot]

    Terry Ibele [Learning Apricot] said:

    Wednesday, 01 June 2016 at 9:34 AM
    Hi Tom,

    Similar, yes, because they both aim to reduce technical debt.

    As I understand, with refactoring, improvements are made to make the back-end more efficient (delete useless code, amalgamate code, etc). With solution splitting, we are splitting up our code into more management segments. So, if we change code in our events module, it won't effect the code of the entire system.
Sorry, this blog post is closed for further comments.

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