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Maintain and publish a 12-month roadmap for software feature delivery

John Mikucki
John Mikucki Member ✭✭
User Story:
As an FlexRadio amateur radio customer
I want to visit a website to understand the next 12 months' projected software feature delivery in the amateur radio product space.
So that I can plan contesting activities, purchase decisions, etc
And so that I feel like a customer, rather than a consumer, of FlexRadio products and services.

Background:

In a world where "the software is the radio", feature delivery is more uncertain than a world where features are built, statically, into hardware. Delivered software features suffer regression faults (see, e.g. John D. Musa's work on software reliability engineering https://www.computer.org/csdl/magazine/so/2009/05/mso2009050102/13rRUx0xPty) and often feature development encounters unexpected complications which result in reprioritizations or delays. Clearly and frequently communicating to customers expectations about upcoming bugfixes, features, and their delivery timelines is a fundamental aspect of software engineering business practice.

The Idea:

FlexRadio will, monthly, update and publish a 24-month-historical + 12-month forward-looking view of their feature delivery plan, with features and bugfixes scheduled into either quarters (90-day buckets) or months (30-day buckets). For a very usable example of this, see https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/microsoft-365/roadmap
1
1 votes

Open for Comments · Last Updated

Comments

  • Lionel
    Lionel Member ✭✭✭

    John,

    Like you, I'd love to see a roadmap however it is unlikely to happen. My opinion is that SSDR development is subordinate to commercial and government contracts, as those keep the light on.

    As best I can recall, the latest v3 release, 39, was about a year ago and was hoping to see some development on the top voted requested revisions. Bugs they quickly fix when serious enough to warrant attention, or so it seems.

    This has been a long-running topic that's been suitably flogged without any response from Flex.

  • Neil D Friedman N3DF
    Neil D Friedman N3DF Dayton, OHMember ✭✭✭

    Still waiting for a Drake bulletin on the next update to my TR3.

  • Lionel
    Lionel Member ✭✭✭

    Drake? too bad. Just got update from Halli for SX117

  • Mike-VA3MW
    Mike-VA3MW Administrator, FlexRadio Employee, Community Manager, Super Elmer, Moderator admin

    I passed on your comments to the executive team.

  • John Mikucki
    John Mikucki Member ✭✭
    @Mike-VA3MW Thank you kindly for relaying the message. I look forward to the discussion. And, thank you again if you also, behind the scenes, kicked the community website into actually 'saving' and displaying this Idea post. :)
  • Trucker
    Trucker Member ✭✭

    Nice idea. But, I wouldn't hold my breath waiting for it to happen. Flex Radio is well aware of the shortcomings of their software. But, unless, like mentioned in another post, it presents a big problem, nothing will be done. And the likelihood of them ever publishing a roadmap of future updates or new features, will never happen. Mainly because in the past when they did do so, people complained when things didn't happen as they had said it would.

    Maybe with new management that could change. But, I doubt it. If there are features that you feel are important or improvements to existing features and functions, your best bet is to find an alternative way to achieve them. And not wait for Flex Radio to fix or improve them. That, is the reality of the current situation.

    James

    WD5GWY

  • John Mikucki
    John Mikucki Member ✭✭
    > @"Lionel " said:
    > John,
    > Like you, I'd love to see a roadmap however it is unlikely to happen. My opinion is that SSDR development is subordinate to commercial and government contracts, as those keep the light on.

    I have no data to speculate about Flex's 'external' development commitments, priorities, staffing, etc. I do think that Flex customers would be understanding of messages like "We deferred non-critical SSDR development for 9-12 months to deliver on a non-SSDR contract, so we can continue the engineering that keeps your software-defined radio a world-class piece of equipment." Or "We were working on Feature X, but we found Heinous Bug Y which could damage your hardware, so we've paused work on X until we have a fix for Y. Thanks for your understanding as we keep all our customers' magic smoke inside."

    > As best I can recall, the latest v3 release, 39, was about a year ago and was hoping to see some development on the top voted requested revisions. Bugs they quickly fix when serious enough to warrant attention, or so it seems.

    I appreciate the quick responses and determined effort on serious (and I imagine, sometimes quite subtle) bugs like the SDCard write problems. I have every expectation that the FRS team would prioritize some blend of 'internally-generated' tickets and end-user-request tickets in their backlog. Heck, we may not always agree about what those blends (and priorities) should be. But at least we will have the opportunity to communicate about them.

    > This has been a long-running topic that's been suitably flogged without any response from Flex.

    Well, I haven't tilted at any other good windmills lately, so I guess this ticket will get today's full measure of optimism from me. :)
  • Al_NN4ZZ
    Al_NN4ZZ Loganville GAMember ✭✭✭

    I've kept copies of the roadmaps from back in 2013....but Gerald explained why they stopped. Here is a note from July 2013. Not saying things couldn't change and maybe we'll be surprised.

    Regards, Al / NN4ZZ

    al (at) nn4zz (dot) com

    6700 Win10 Pro V2004 -- SSDR V2.4.10



  • Al_NN4ZZ
    Al_NN4ZZ Loganville GAMember ✭✭✭

    Here is one of the old roadmaps for reference....



  • John Mikucki
    John Mikucki Member ✭✭
    > @Trucker said:
    > Nice idea. But, I wouldn't hold my breath waiting for it to happen. Flex Radio is well aware of the shortcomings of their software. But, unless, like mentioned in another post, it presents a big problem, nothing will be done. And the likelihood of them ever publishing a roadmap of future updates or new features, will never happen. Mainly because in the past when they did do so, people complained when things didn't happen as they had said it would.

    Well, perhaps the new-blood Youngblood will be more open to new ways of thinking. And perhaps both the user community and the company can accept and understand that everything is a compromise and this is, primarily, a hobby. Hope springs eternal. :)

    > Maybe with new management that could change. But, I doubt it. If there are features that you feel are important or improvements to existing features and functions, your best bet is to find an alternative way to achieve them. And not wait for Flex Radio to fix or improve them. That, is the reality of the current situation.

    I hear you. Being relatively new to Flex, and perhaps buoyed by today's gloriously sunny weather, I guess I want to give them "an opportunity to disappoint me" before I accept disillusionment. :)

    > James
    > WD5GWY
  • John Mikucki
    John Mikucki Member ✭✭
    > @Al_NN4ZZ said:
    > Here is one of the old roadmaps for reference....

    This would be totally reasonable. I'd personally prefer a bit more detail/text where the 'powerpoint soundbite' label isn't adequate to the task (contrast, a rather useful version as implemented by MS: https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/microsoft-365/roadmap) but just putting the Idea numbers on the powerpoint could answer the mail. Having done agile development once upon a time, nothing prevents Flex from replanning and reordering work 'outside' the current sprint. Usually my customers only got grumpy when schedules slipped AND they didn't understand why. That backlog and roadmap are tools for customer and developer to communicate, right?
  • Al_NN4ZZ
    Al_NN4ZZ Loganville GAMember ✭✭✭

    Hi John,

    There was actually a page 2 for the roadmaps with some additional detail...here is an example.

    Regards, Al / NN4ZZ

    al (at) nn4zz (dot) com

    6700 Win10 Pro V2004 -- SSDR V2.4.10



  • Trucker
    Trucker Member ✭✭

    I have met Matt Youngblood and talked with him on several occasions. He is a very nice and helpful person. My main interactions with him was Customer Service and Sales. In those instances he was very helpful and knowledgeable. I have no doubts that he will be good in his new position. But, that being said, there's no way to know with any certainty, how his being president of the company will effect the priority of the Amateur Radio side of Flex Radio's business model. Only time will tell us that.

    James

    WD5GWY

  • Jon_EA2W
    Jon_EA2W Member ✭✭

    There´s no roadmap, Ham Radio developments have been abandoned since years to focus on commercial and government contracts.

  • John KB4DU
    John KB4DU Member ✭✭✭

    Yet, somehow Canonical manages to deliver a new release of Ubuntu every six months. Whatever is ready gets released, not ready not released.

  • Trucker
    Trucker Member ✭✭

    Big difference between Canonical and Flex Radio. An unfair comparison.



  • WX7Y
    WX7Y Member ✭✭✭

    BROKEN RECORD, Give it a rest

  • Trucker
    Trucker Member ✭✭

    Ignore threads you don't like or agree with. Very easy.

  • bahillen
    bahillen Member ✭✭

    if you look up the Flex history, a lot of leading edge SDR development was in cooperation with government/commercial projects. In the long run amateur radio is the beneficiary as well as the contribution to the technology. I have no idea of the impact of the other projects and neither do the rest of us. It is not obvious that Flex has put amateur products on the back burner.

    Gerald has personally been the leader for years in SDR. The others are followers and still catching up and not there yet. As you have shown, Flex has provided a roadmap and discussed his projections. As a result, he was harassed and criticized by a few vocal complainers. The growth and maturity of the Flex line forced a change in the development process similar to others that have matured.

    With regard to releases, it drives me crazy when I continually get Windows updates/bug fixes. Amateur software fixes for WSJT-X, JTALERT, JTDX, other 3 rd party etc are constantly changing and that is ok, it’s is amateur radio, a hobby. If you follow the forums on these software releases, it is a nonstop flow of problems, bugs, updates and support.

    But the Flex radio is really a computer server that is the foundation of the communications network. I have worked with cellular base station systems and networks. You can’t believe all the permutations and combinations can occur. System stability and quality are of utmost importance.

    In the past, Dayton Hamvention was the timeframe of new releases and features. We will see what happens this year. I have no inside track, just past performance of the Flex Team.

    In spite of the pandemic, the help desk has been terrific, this forum has been redesigned and is supportive. My radio has been reliable 24/7/365. I have been working a lot of DX.

    73

    Bill W9JJB

  • Lionel
    Lionel Member ✭✭✭

    Releasing a roadmap has a few issues.

    1. Competitive - announcing technical goals to other manufacturers, amateur and commercial.
    2. Flex internal planning for ham products, for a roadmap using classic methods, is apparently not how they plan and execute their development cycle, according to earlier statements by Gerald. Gerald said agile, and I suppose updates are a part of such methods. No one outside of Flex knows the details of Flex's development work; seems appropriate.
    3. ...............?

    This has been discussed for many years, but I think it remains a topic of wide interest and deserves periodic discussion. Flex may read new posts, I hope, and can gauge the interest of users in future development.

    The 2013, 14 roadmap, perceived as a good thing by Flex, seems to have set high expectations, like mine, and in retrospect would have been better never published. Maybe, "no good deed goes unpunished."

    I have high hopes for Dayton/Xenia.

  • bahillen
    bahillen Member ✭✭

    Hopefully Flex has a dinner like in past years.

    Even without a roadmap and commitments implied, I would like to hear Gerald’s vision of the SDR future direction. As an example will there be distributed processing on a local network? What will the impact of 5G be on the remote functionality. What will the remote experience be like in the future? Will club remote operations become more robust and bulletproof.?

    73

    Bill W9JJB

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