SSDR Roadmapless future development

  • 7
  • Question
  • Updated 3 years ago
  • Answered
I've been following this thread with growing frustration. Darrin has been doing an unbelievable job enhancing and updating PowerSDR. He has incorporated more new stuff in the last month than I ever thought possible. This leaves me wondering where the roadmapless future of SSDR is going. Over the last year Flex has been focused first with LAN remote, WAN remote, a little noise reduction and Contesting. With the exception of noise reduction nothing really excites me. I'm not a contester and I don't need to operate remote. Darrin on the other hand is single handedly pumping out feature after feature for PowerSDR. I'm jealous! While we seem to wait years for the simplest of things to get added to the user interface, like a readable power/swr meter, band markers or spots and more. Darrin seems to be able to pump these things out over night. Can't we please get a few development days dedicated to some of the nice little things many of us want? Maybe you could hire Darrin? I would contribute...

I love my radio and one of the things I like the most is that it continues to evolve. Unfortunately, the update cycles seem to be getting longer and longer and are only centered on Remote operation and contesting. I know, lots of behind the scenes stuff is done and bugs are squashed but hey, throw us simple DX chasers and rag chewers a bone. Give us some of the perks that PowerSDR now seems to be getting in spades.

I'm still a happy Flex user and would never trade my radio. I just want to add my 2 cents on what would be nice to have.

Jon...kf2e

PS. If you don't read the PowerSDR thread, Darrin is now working on a background for PSDR that shows a world map with a moving grey line. Great stuff!
Photo of Jon - KF2E

Jon - KF2E

  • 676 Posts
  • 222 Reply Likes

Posted 3 years ago

  • 7
Photo of KF4HR

KF4HR

  • 758 Posts
  • 258 Reply Likes
Good points Jon.  I've had similar thoughts.  While I'm very thankfully for SSDR add-on programs such as DDUtil, FlexMeter, RFStack, etc, but it sure would be nice if FRS would incorporate and release features such as these on a frequent basis and throw its loyal customers a bone more often.    
Photo of Al / NN4ZZ

Al / NN4ZZ

  • 1848 Posts
  • 670 Reply Likes
  • WAN has been promised for a while so I understand why it's a priority.
  • Maestro is needed to bring in customers who wouldn't come without knobs.
  • Satisfying contesters usually helps everyone in the long run. 

While some of us don't really want / need some of those features,  the strategy is understandable.  

Hopefully during the 2.x series some of the other enhancements (GUI improvements, peripheral control, new features, etc) will be included as well. But IMHO it may be quite a while before we see many of those incremental improvements.  There are hundreds of "ideas" on the customer facing list and I'm sure FRS has many more on their internal list.  It could easily take several more years to get the one you want. 

Regards, Al / NN4ZZ  
al (at) nn4zz (dot) com
6700 - HW.................... V 1.6.21.77
SSDR / DAX / CAT...... V 1.6.21.159
Win10
Photo of DrTeeth

DrTeeth

  • 1687 Posts
  • 389 Reply Likes
At least politically, some of this needs to be dealt with in v1. I feel sorry for those who are familiar with PowerSDR having to have to work with SSDR. There should be a greater level of feature/ergonomic parity before v2 is released. The less we request features the longer it will take to get them ;-).
Photo of Walt - KZ1F

Walt - KZ1F

  • 3040 Posts
  • 645 Reply Likes
There is a saying, 'familiarity breeds contempt'. Perhaps, in part, because of psdr being an open source project, people seem to be upset or otherwise expect they should be on the FRS steering committee. FRS is a company with a portfolio of products. We are consumers that have a vote by virtue of buying or not buying their product(s). I am awed by people's expectations they have more sway.
Photo of DrTeeth

DrTeeth

  • 1687 Posts
  • 389 Reply Likes
Walt, I am sure that Flex does not behave the way you inferred in your last sentence, that they are only interested in getting people to buy and then ignoring those that have. You mean once we have bought we have no vote? That is a sure fire way to lose future custom as we have not bought a fixed product, but a continually evolving one.
Photo of Bill -VA3WTB

Bill -VA3WTB

  • 3790 Posts
  • 913 Reply Likes
I suppose their are those that use Windows 10 and miss Windows 95. Seems we have folks that continue to under value SSDR, thinking it is missing a boat load of features, when it really does not. One of the goals of Flex is to keep SSDR clean and not bogged down, so it is made to mate with third party software to do targeted jobs. But I read in other post some people think SSDR should have all that built into SSDR making the software much larger.

SSDR is by far light years ahead of PSDR in terms of performance and capabilities.
It is also interesting of the people here who believe they can bully Flex into giving them what they want, by telling Gerald how to run his company. The very fact that Gerald writes here to explain things to people I think is remarkable.

 He is very involved with the customer base and hears us when we ask for things, but as always the plan is in motion and it does not make everyone happy, but it is a plan. One that seems to be working well so far.
And no I don't work for Flex.
(Edited)
Photo of Bill -VA3WTB

Bill -VA3WTB

  • 3790 Posts
  • 913 Reply Likes
While I understand some of the frustrations in the speed that Flex is working I think it is only fair to remind us of a few things. PSDR has been around for many many years compared to SSDR. SSDR is completly a different software, brand new, it does not share any code with PSDR, none. Everything they are doing in it is inventing. It is also far more complicated to code as Steve mentioned, many more levels of code. Yes I get their are some who feel it's nothing, but it is a big deal, SSDR is a remarkable feet. I remember when I bought my Flex 3000 9 years ago it took about 4 years of upgrading to get many of the basic features working in PSDR. Since then look at what the guys with the Anan are doing with it, it is now nothing like the PSDR most of us remember, they have done a lot of work on it for the needs of Anan users. And now Derrin has picked up the torch and is continuing to add things to it,,good for him, that is the true spirit of open source.
Photo of Ernest - W4EG

Ernest - W4EG

  • 615 Posts
  • 120 Reply Likes
Bill,
There is nothing to add to your comment...Fine job and thank you 
Photo of Gerald - K5SDR

Gerald - K5SDR, Employee

  • 830 Posts
  • 1514 Reply Likes
@Jon

I started development on what ultimately became PowerSDR (FlexRadio TM) back in 1999 purely as a hobby project that turned into a business in 2003.  The original SDRConsole was written in VB6 and ran the SDR-1000.  In 2004, we started over in C#.NET taking what I had learned in the original software.  SDRConsole its successor PowerSDR were released as open source software targeting the experimenter market.  

FlexRadio invested significant time, human resources and dollars (seven figures) in development of PowerSDR from that time until 2013.  In the old experimenter days we would just code and idea and send it to the masses.  Since our customers were mostly experimenters in the early days they didn't care about quality control, they just wanted to play with the latest gee whiz feature.  PowerSDR had no architectural design - it simply evolved.  We called it whack-a-mole because you make a change here and a bug pops up over there.  But it was sure fun to make a quick change and throw it out there to see if everything worked or not.  I remember taking walks, having and idea, coming back and coding, and then post it to the server for download that evening.  Those were days of the wild, wild west.

SmartSDR on the other hand was designed from on a clean sheet of paper to be a long term, sustainable architecture.  We don't do any major coding without a peer reviewed design process on the front end.  No code gets pulled into a branch without a pull request and timely peer review.  Every time we produce a build during the day there is an automated system that uploads the code to each of our radio models and runs a test suite.  We do alpha releases to our 50 plus alpha team one or more times per week.  The entire software team reviews their issues each Monday starting at 9:30 am and it typically runs until lunch.  Every issue is sized, prioritized, assigned to a release plan or to the general backlog.  If the issue makes it into the current release plan, it is assigned to an individual programmer or group of programmers.  

We have produced over 50 builds on the v1.7 Maestro release alone and still counting.  Our goal with SmartSDR is to build quality software based on design solid design and process principles that will provide value for many years to come.  That means we will never do daily releases to the masses like we did in the old days of PowerSDR.  Darrin is free to do so to his pleasure.  I sure encourage people who benefit from his work will pay him for his efforts.

On the other hand, let me reiterate here that we are fully supporting Darrin in his efforts to enhance PowerSDR.  We have provided Darrin with each model of our hardware and our software engineers are supporting him in his work.  

Jon, we do not plan to give regular public road maps because it would give our competitors too much information.  Also, we need to be able to make decisions at the beginning of each release cycle that are based on the best information we have at that point in time.  Things change and we learn.  We use our best judgement for each release based on building our business for the long haul.  We know that is best strategy to serve our customers.

So the bottom line is - you can have it fast or you can have quality but not both.  We choose quality.  That ship has sailed and there is no going back.  

73,
Gerald
Photo of Jon - KF2E

Jon - KF2E

  • 676 Posts
  • 222 Reply Likes
Gerald,

I think you missed my point. I just wish you weren't so focused on your big high quality updates that we never seem to get to the little things. Darrin is doing with PowerSDR what I wish we could have with SSDR. Regular small updates with nice to have features. Something to fill the void between blockbuster updates like Maestro or WAN remote which I don't particularly need.

While I liked the roadmap I understand why it is gone. 

Jon
Photo of WW1SS - Steve

WW1SS - Steve

  • 755 Posts
  • 259 Reply Likes
Agree 100%
Photo of Gerald - K5SDR

Gerald - K5SDR, Employee

  • 830 Posts
  • 1514 Reply Likes
Respectfully Jon, I got your point in the original post.  You would like for us to do very frequent and free updates that add "eye candy" features that are fun to play with and may well be useful to some segment of the customer base.  You also said you don't care about Maestro or WAN, which a lot of other people do care about.  

We have a fixed overhead that is required to ship a quality public software release.  That overhead does not go down if you do more frequent releases, which means that you would ultimately get fewer total features over a year with frequent releases than you do with less frequent releases.  Thus is the nature of fixed overhead.  As I said earlier, you can have fast or quality but not both.  

Software development is not free.  In fact, it is at least 5X more expensive than hardware development in this day and age.  We must allocate our precious and finite resources toward the things that pay for those same resources.  

Let me state this clearly.  Volunteer open source developers can release software that is personally interesting as often as they want since they don't have to do support or meet a payroll.  Nothing says they even have to do documentation.  If I didn't have a business to run, I would find that fun to do myself until I ultimately tired of it and went on to something else more interesting. 

Once again, respectfully, we will not do daily or weekly or monthly releases.  This creates too much overhead.  We need to amortize the fixed software release overhead over roughly 3-4 releases per year that drive new sales.  We will continue to add cool new features as time permits within those major releases.  Many will break new ground in amateur radio.  

And respectfully, that is the final word.

73,
Gerald
Photo of Jon - KF2E

Jon - KF2E

  • 676 Posts
  • 222 Reply Likes
Gerald,

From my original post...

Maybe you could hire Darrin? I would contribute...

I'm not looking for anything free. I understand the cost of development. I believe you when you say that Software costs exceed hardware costs. I shouldn't have said "regular small updates" in my reply. What I want is ANY update that is focused on something other than WAN, Maestro and contesting. What you seem to be saying is that it will be years before you address the small things that are important to many users. I think you mistake usability for "eye candy."

Jon
Photo of Gerald - K5SDR

Gerald - K5SDR, Employee

  • 830 Posts
  • 1514 Reply Likes
Let me try again.  I was not saying anything about what "small" features might or might not make it into a major release cycle.  

Regular small updates cost more when you build quality software through a defined process.  Let's say there is a two to three week minimum of calendar time overhead (not to mention the number of man weeks within those calendar weeks) to complete a quality public release cycle after all features are frozen for that release.  That same overhead applies to a few little features or a lot of major features.  As I said, you get less with shorter release cycles.

By the way, Maestro is all about usability.  Some things were are learning and doing in Maestro will flow back into SmartSDR for Windows as is appropriate.  I expect that we will continue to enhance SmartSDR for a long, long, long time.  

de K5SDR   . _   . _ .
Photo of Jon - KF2E

Jon - KF2E

  • 676 Posts
  • 222 Reply Likes
I know it's not feasible(if it is let me know) but I wish I could pay an annual subscription fee for development of SSDR from a regular user perspective. As it is now SSDR development is apparently only for features that drive sales. I want a way to get many of the great features suggested almost daily on this forum.

Jon
Photo of Walt - KZ1F

Walt - KZ1F

  • 3040 Posts
  • 645 Reply Likes
While I am confident Gerald is completely capable of speaking for himself, as he's said before, 'to us it's a hobby, to them it's a living. Yes their focus is income generation or certainly should be.. That provides a living as well as funds for hiring addional resources. You could always do what Stu, mark, myself are doing and write a control surface that matches precisely what you're looking for?
(Edited)
Photo of Jon - KF2E

Jon - KF2E

  • 676 Posts
  • 222 Reply Likes
That's a silly comment Walt. I suppose when you go on a commercial flight you don't like you will go to flight school and fly yourself?

This thread no longer serves a purpose. Sorry if I ruffled any feathers. I'll go back to listening on the forum and offering help when I can.

Maybe the thread should be closed...

73,

Jon
Photo of Gerald - K5SDR

Gerald - K5SDR, Employee

  • 830 Posts
  • 1514 Reply Likes
My feathers are certainly not ruffled.  I felt it important to explain that there is a lot of thought and planning that goes into everything we do.  We have finite resources that we apply judiciously.  My motto is do the right things in the right order for the right reasons and you won't go wrong.  That is guaranteed not to make everyone happy but hopefully will make the most people happy.  Over time, we will make more and more happy.  That is a different business model from selling fixed function boxes.

I agree it is time to close the thread.  It's getting close to my bedtime.  ;>)
Photo of Jim Best

Jim Best

  • 46 Posts
  • 10 Reply Likes
One ham's opinion; I am completely satisfied with SSDR software to date. I look at new improvements as icing on the cake. Keep up the good work. You
will never satisfy everyone. 73 Jim WU7G
Photo of Walt - KZ1F

Walt - KZ1F

  • 3040 Posts
  • 645 Reply Likes
Actually Jon, I am a licensed commercial rated pilot, for just that reason. The alternative to writing what you want, just the way you want is to pay someone that can write concierge software, Stu, dogpark, myself, etc.
Photo of WW1SS - Steve

WW1SS - Steve

  • 755 Posts
  • 259 Reply Likes
I too want a way to get some of the features that are suggested on the forum here . . . But unfortunately most will never be seen or incorporated into the software
Photo of Wayne VK4ACN

Wayne VK4ACN

  • 136 Posts
  • 21 Reply Likes
Gerald. Many thanks for you and your company's hard work and effort in making the future of amateur radio more exciting. Cheers
Wayne
VK4ACN
Photo of KD4HSO

KD4HSO

  • 53 Posts
  • 3 Reply Likes
FWIW I bought a 6500 because of Maestro and WAN, as opposed to an ANAN.
Photo of KY6LA - Howard

KY6LA - Howard, Elmer

  • 3735 Posts
  • 1599 Reply Likes

@Jon & Steven

I think you both have entirely missed the point of Gerald's posting.

In order to do quality sustainable work you don't do small tiny fixes here and there because these tend to break other things in the process (like they did regularly in PowerSDR). 

I would add that software costs money to produce.  That money currently comes from new sales.  So prioritizing new features has to be done with consideration of how many new sales that those features will bring in.

There is little doubt that both Maestro and WAN will generate a heck of a lot of new sales.   The contest features already implemented look to be world class contest tools which will also generate new sales..


Photo of Jon - KF2E

Jon - KF2E

  • 676 Posts
  • 222 Reply Likes
So you are telling us if we don't want to contest remotely with a Maestro we should go elsewhere?:)

There should be room for more.

Jon
(Edited)
Photo of James Whiteway

James Whiteway

  • 1023 Posts
  • 288 Reply Likes
As a non-contester, I can truthfully say that SSDR meets nearly all my current needs. And as someone who also enjoys the challenge of software development, the radio and Flex Library gives me a chance to learn new things.
I'm sure that Contesters are not the only market FRS is targeting.
As for Darrin and PowerSDR, unless he tells us, no one knows how long he has actually been working on the features he has been adding to PSDR.
Some complain about things like spots not being in SSDR, I don't understand that. No other radio that is not an SDR radio, can even approach.the capabilities of an SDR radio. SSDR is evolving just as PSDR has. And now with Darrin's hard work,PSDR will have things it never had, and someday SSDR may well have.
James
WD5GWY
(Edited)
Photo of DrTeeth

DrTeeth

  • 1687 Posts
  • 389 Reply Likes
I would just like to start off by saying that I understand where Gerald is coming from and agree with both him and Howard. However, I agree *much* more with Jon.

Whilst it is marvellous that Flex is working on Maestro and contesting and WAN, I do not care about any of them. Every time I have to get to within an inch of my screen to see the SWR and power bar gauges, I curse Maestro and WAN and contesting.

I have worked with my hands all my working life to a standard at least as high as a skilled surgeon and am annoyed that the slider controls are more difficult to adjust than they need to be from *several* aspects (I am available for hire as it is likely ill-health will preclude my working in my regular day job ever again, hi hi). IMHO the GUI is a big ergonomic fail. Gerald, nobody is asking for 'eye candy' or frequent releases. Personally, I find the use of the term 'eye candy' very telling. One GUI release would satisfy most of us at least to the point where we would not feel as if we were being ignored. Ergonomic improvements would benefit everybody unlike the other things that you mentioned.

It is not good for a company, or anybody else I can think of, to concentrate on the big things to the exclusion of the smaller things. Every time somebody complains about the small things being passed over, somebody posts with news on the next big thing Flex is planning. Whilst the next big thing might make people buy Flex, hearing that the less glamorous things get put on the back burner will similarly make people buy less.

I would like to back up what Jon has said and would also like some effort to be expended on the 'little things'. It is getting more difficult to believe that any GUI improvements will see the light of day in the v1 branch.

I'll get my coat...
(Edited)
Photo of WW1SS - Steve

WW1SS - Steve

  • 755 Posts
  • 259 Reply Likes
I agree. It is like Flex is looking for the next BIG bang and forgetting about the small stuff. I too find it difficult to see those meters on the screen. I would also like time spent on the small stuff but I don't see it happening. As Gerald said " Some things were are learning and doing in Maestro will flow back into SmartSDR for Windows as is appropriate."
Photo of DrTeeth

DrTeeth

  • 1687 Posts
  • 389 Reply Likes
Steven, if they need Maestro to see the ergonomic shortcomings of the current GUI, I feel sorry for them.
Photo of Bill -VA3WTB

Bill -VA3WTB

  • 3790 Posts
  • 913 Reply Likes
That is not what he said, he said they are learning from it.
Photo of DrTeeth

DrTeeth

  • 1687 Posts
  • 389 Reply Likes
They should not need to learn that which is glaringly unergonomic.
(Edited)
Photo of Peter K1PGV

Peter K1PGV, Elmer

  • 544 Posts
  • 321 Reply Likes
To a certain extent I think Jon and Gerald are talking past each other.  I'm an ardent user of SSDR who doesn't care about Maestro or WAN remote, and would love to see a "spit and polish" release happen yesterday. I'm also an engineering manager who makes trade-offs about what bugs to fix and which to ignore every day.  So, in case I'm right that the positions aren't clear to both "sides"  I'll try to clarify a bit.  Sorry if this is obvious already to those involved.

Jon: I hear Gerald saying that his resources are limited, and it makes the most sense for him to focus those limited resources on adding features that will expand his user base.  Adding users equals sales.  Sales equals he stays in business.  It's hard to argue with that rationale.  Gerald seems to argue that when the major, market-expanding, stuff is finished, there'll be plenty of time for polishing.

Gerald: I hear Jon saying that he doesn't really care about a lot of the new whiz-bang features. He's happy with the major functionality as its exists.  But there are a lot of niggling little things that make SSDR less useful or less enjoyable than it he feels it could be. As a loyal and dedicated user, he wishes that Flex would shift the allocation of resources at least a BIT more toward perfecting the existing interface to reward the existing customer base.

It's hard to argue with either opinion, really. They're both entirely valid perspectives.

Running a software organization is all about making these trade-offs.  Folks who don't write software for a living often fail to realize that these trade-offs are a zero sum game.  If you spend x time on some feature, you've got x less time to spend on something else.

Trade-offs suck, but making the tough decisions is essential to making money in this field. For example, I'm approaching a major release milestone for some software my company is building, and I just did a bug triage.  I closed or postponed every bug that had the words "we should" or "it would be nice if" in the description. This removed about a third of the open bugs against the release (the bug count went from 97 to 66). Boy, was our marketing guy pissed off!  But guess what?  He would have been even MORE pissed-off if we missed the release date (and delayed the revenue from that release) because we spent time adding some cute edge feature instead of fixing a bug that resulted in a system crash.

Zero-sum game.  Somebody HAS to make the call.

What is undeniably cool is that Gerald came on the board to explain the trade-off he was making. See that from any other similar company?  While I don't LIKE the result of his trade-off, I understand and respect it.

Peter
K1PGV
Photo of DrTeeth

DrTeeth

  • 1687 Posts
  • 389 Reply Likes
Peter, well said. For once (!) I have nothing more to add to it...spot on as it was.
(Edited)
Photo of Tim - W4TME

Tim - W4TME, Customer Experience Manager

  • 9186 Posts
  • 3541 Reply Likes
Asp per the original poster's request, I am closing this thread since all viewpoints have been well articulated.
Photo of Tim - W4TME

Tim - W4TME, Customer Experience Manager

  • 9186 Posts
  • 3541 Reply Likes
Official Response
Please refer to this post as a follow-up from Gerald 
https://community.flexradio.com/flexradio/topics/i-think-you-deserve-an-apology

This conversation is no longer open for comments or replies.