Would someone from FRS answer:
- Not being able to stick to your date schedule development timeline, we now have no firm calendar as to when features are going to be added. It could be 2 years between releases based on your latest rollout criteria of "when bugs are gone and the software is ready". Please publish a roadmap. We have to know when to expect standard features and updates.
- How many people do you have dedicated to software engineering and development? (please don't include administrative staff)
- How are future communications going to be handled with your customers about features and timeline for deployment of software?
- Is FRS willing to employ additional software developers and engineers to ensure your product gets out the door in a timely manner in the future? A lot of us have invested a lot of money in FRS and the very least you could do is show us you are addressing the problems incurred with this 6000 software rollout debacle.
I'm sure others have questions as well. I would appreciate your honest answers to my above questions and concerns.
As someone who works in the software industry, I know what these delivery times are like. All I can say on Flex's behalf is that I know they are working flat out on the latest release, and I know it can be frustrating if you are a customer waiting on that release. There are literally scores of beta testers shaking it down each day.
However, it is much worse if a product is released prematurely as I am sure you can understand. The blow back is difficult to manage and the company looses face.
I can also speak from my professional experience working with Software Product management for a fortune 500 company, that we all want 'features and functionality' with all new software. But, we have to make sure that product stability is an absolute requirement first. There is no sense releasing a product if it can't run all day and do what it is advertised to do. We have all seen that with many software products. Microsoft has made this mistake more than once.
Planning for software release is difficult. It isn't like hardware manufacturing when it is easy to plan for a delivery date. It can be 'it will be finished when it is finished'.
I'm sure Gerald will reply, but I know that there are a lot of people burning the midnight oil to get the next release out the door with all the toys that go with it and the stability to run without issue. But, they want to do it right the first time. Even then there will be issues with some users.
I know this won't likely get you the answer you wish, but I hope it helps a little.
It is critical to keep the communication open and not become an "us and them" community. Customers are expressing their concerns regardless of some extremes and thus is a valuable source of information that can help prioritize the feature delivery list.
I am a long term software developer and am able to see both sides of this issue. FRS should really consider returning to an "approximate" date release schedule. Yes, it requires proper scheduling of prioritized features but gives the customer base an expected road map. I would rather see more "dot" releases as features become available compared to monolithic releases that wedge frustration between FRS and the customer base. Please consider that not all of the customer base has chimed in on the forums. Tough problem to sort out for sure.
Update: we should understand that some features are what I would call "foundation" in nature. They provide a base on which to add other features. Case in point is remote operation - it will touch several areas and affect how some new features are developed.
Even This morning it has started all mover again. So It is no surprise to me the are holding back on much info as I gets turned around on them anyways.
I read all the post and as I see it most except for a few love there Radio's even with not having all the features yet. They have performed very well in contest as well. A lot of very happy Flexer's here. Even with the present state most will say it is still the best radio they ever owned.
But as we have seen there are a few who are waiting for any opening to trash Flex and missed dates is an easy one for them. And I think some are not even Flex owners.
The level of staff and the targeting of product releases are both items that are financially driven as much as they are technology driven. Those are issues for the management of the company, not the customers.
As a long-time, multi-Flex customer, I have loved every Flex that I ever bought. Each one worked the day I got it and got better the longer I owned it. Everything I bought an paid for was in the box when I opened it. I wasn't "owed" anything beyond that but I got a whole lot more as time went on.
Flex Radio communicates a hundred times better than any of the other manufacturers of amateur radio equipment. Their communications are more frequent on both forward-looking features and plans and current issues. They have already expressed their intention not to put hard dates on development that they may or may not be able to meet for a variety of reasons. I have a hard time seeing why people can accept that and move on - 1.4 will get here some day. In the mean time, enjoy your radio.
I do enjoy using my Flex 6500. I only wish FRS the very best and I've continued to support them by purchasing their equipment. However, it's time they report to their stock holders on how they are addressing the problems and how they are going to deliver the bill of goods they promised.
As an example, I own a bunch of HP stock, but that doesn't enable me to get daily updates on the issues with my printer being fixed.
Gerald has given updates on the progress of 1.4 in the past month, so he has been communicating to the industry.
The blunt message is that the software will be released when it is ready for prime time. Since it hasn't been released, I bet it isn't ready for prime time.
Patient would have been happier if I would have said at the beginning that I needed to take my time and it will be out as soon as possible; result a happy patient. This is how FRS should move forward.
We all have to work to time scales but it is how we handle the expectation and info flow that matters.
When it gets here, I think we should throw an intercontinental 1.4 release party. I'm afraid what follows will be demands on when 1.5 will be released and complaints because a feature doesn't work exactly the way someone anticipated. Such is human nature.
We appreciate that you have been a long time supporter of FlexRadio.
There is not a great deal that I can add other than what Steve and I have posted here before. I will, however summarize a few points that have been made here on multiple previous occasions:
- We first published a public road map for SmartSDR in the summer of 2013. V1.0, v1.1, and v1.2, were exactly on schedule from the first dates published. v1.3 was only two weeks later that the date originally published over a year earlier.
- v1.4 is the only release that was materially later than the first published road map. That is based on the original estimate made in the summer of 2013!
- The reason v1.3 was two weeks late is that we applied engineering resources to perform preliminary research for v1.4 in the area of LAN remote data compression and the Waveform API/FreeDV during the v1.3 release cycle.
- This past October we announced our intent to do a v1.5 release that focuses on noise/interference mitigation enhancements along with system performance enhancements.
- As we went into full development of v1.4, we decided that we should perform end to end system performance tuning that we had originally planned to do in v1.5. As Steve reported a few days ago, this is a real time, multiprocessor client/server system with over 40 parallel threads. We performed significant surgery under the cover that has radically increased end to end system performance as well as decreasing the PC power required for the client. When you do that kind of surgery, it requires significant stability testing and debug cycles. This cannot be rushed.
- v1.4 is running now on low end PCs that completely choke on v1.3.8. My i7 went from 70% loading on 8 cores with v1.3.8 to under 15% loading on only 4 cores with the v1.4 test release. That is running with 8 panadapters, 8 slices, and 8 DAX streams. Network loading with 8 slices running remote LAN without DAX is running only ~8 Mbps.
- We have been unwilling to release v1.4 until we are satisfied with its stability and reliability. I stand by that decision unequivocally.
- The current test release of v1.4 is now very stable but I will not give a date for release. On the day we release we will put out a public announcement through the Flex Insider.
- The engineering team has now moved to planning and design for the next point release.
- We are planning to move to shorter release cycles beginning with the next release. That means more frequent but smaller releases (a.k.a. Agile). It also means that there are likely to be more point releases than in the past.
This will be the last post I make on this subject until v1.4 ships. ;>)
inside his house? :)
73, Dan KM6CQ
After all, how could FRS have known if it had never been done before?
I like my 6500, it's a cool radio.
I do seriously question whether Flex has the resource to deliver the things we need/promised in a generally good timeframe. If I am correct it has been out going on 3 years?
Personally I expected 1.5 to be there when I bought the 6500 at Dayton last year. And I thought it already had Flex 5000 features +. I guess I did not do my homework on that. A $4500+ radio should already have excellent DSP features day one (maybe some on-going improvements). I got the Flex and sold my TT Orion II ( a very good TOTL radio) for several reasons...I like SDR, Panafall, expected a superior RX due to architecture, O II was getting old, etc. The RX is not really better (It would help if the NR, ANL, NB were working excellent).
Are we even on schedule for WAN REMOTE in 2015 anymore? As promised at Dayton 2014 and in the plan.
This is certainly a different approach...if you bought a $7500 7700 you would expect it to have all the features (Has a great WAN Remote) and they do.....I guess I really did expect they had the resources to get this all done pretty fast. I did know it was not all done when I bought it. And that's OK.
Being a retired IT Pro with 40 years at IBM...(I was involved in hardware, firmware, operating systems and applications) I was able to see that the architecture was excellent and that is one big reason I drank the cool aid. I still think it is.
I think Flex is doing a great job in communicating to us....They are, I'm sure doing all they can with the resources they have, Are the resources enough to accomplish the goals in a timely manner....that's yet to be seen. This is hard, complex work.
I hope so as I love the radio in general. Maybe things will really speed up. Maybe they will surprise us in the near future?
It's a good basic radio the way it is now (once 1.5 stuff happens) but I can see why some, including me, are disappointed in the progress.
For me...1.5 will be the deciding version...I don't really need remote, FM converters...I want the VERY BEST HF rig to be had for weak signal DX, rag chew etc in todays noisy crowded bands.
My neighborhood is certainly not getting any RF quieter, and 40 at night is crowded with close in stations. We will be in low sunspot soon and the low bands will be even more crowded.
Thanks Gerald for keeping us informed. Flex in my opinion is a quality operation or I would not have bought the radio.
A big concern is when people on the fence as to getting a Flex here of the slow progress (Yes, I know you guys at Flex don't think it is slow, but some of us sure do)
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